Vaginal Discharge: 5 Causes & Symptoms (Smelly or Colored)

, a professor of OBGYN at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Women may also notice a slight fishy odor after their period, which is normal as long as it’s not a sign of a forgotten tampon! Does douching help in getting rid of vaginal odor? And since a man can pass a yeast infection on to his partner, it's vital that we learn how to identify and treat our own yeast infections. They might be the wrong choice for your condition, and taking antibiotics when they're not needed can make yeast infections more likely. Remember that most of the time these infections are caused by an upset in the balance of bacteria that is normal in the vagina. The most common explanation for an unpleasant vaginal odor is an infection called bacterial vaginosis. That said, there are certain things that can change your vagina's odor.

He/she may also run a few additional tests to reach a more conclusive diagnosis. We have the odor code cracked! For many, however, the fishy odor is the only symptom. Rinse well and pat dry. But the emotional discomfort you may feel is plenty painful. Many germs that cause infection thrive in a warm, damp, and dark environment.

There’s a higher likelihood the actual issue is coming from regular, day-to-day odor that’s external and not an internal, vaginal infection.

You're still douching—even though you shouldn't be. As anyone who's peed after eating asparagus can tell you, certain foods can cause some funky smells as they make their way out of your body. Uric acid is a natural waste product from food digestion and urea is a waste product made of ammonia and carbon dioxide—all substances the body tries to get rid of through urine.

There are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria.

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Most women have been there. But some experts believe that in some cases, your yeastified bits might emit a faint odor, one that can smell slightly yeasty. The foul-smelling urine from a UTI is caused in the same manner.

Or it smells like a bowl of fruit. You should also be on the lookout for symptoms of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis, 3 infections that can cause changes in your vaginal discharge. SO CAN YOU GET RID OF BV WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS? How long does it take for the vaginal odor to go away after treatment?

This is called vaginitis.

Prevent Vaginitis

You want to do something to make it stop, now. Douching is a practice that should only be prescribed by a doctor if medically necessary. Vaginal yeast infection, if your partner has one, they could pass it on to you. “Urine can have a more pungent smell from the hormones produced during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester,” says Dr.

  • Will it reoccur even after the treatment?
  • Maintain proper fluid intake throughout the day to flush out toxins and harmful bacteria from the body and, thereby, minimize the risk of odor-causing infections.
  • This is even more important for uncircumcised boys, who have a higher rate of penile infections from improper hygiene.
  • Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, occurs when there’s an overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina.


The intensity of vaginal odor can vary during the course of the menstrual cycle. 7% Non-albicans Candida (8 species): Plus, messing up that delicate environment could actually double your risk of ovarian cancer. If you’ve forgotten a tampon inside your vagina and it’s been a few days, you’ll start to notice an unpleasant smell, similar to rotting meat or strong onions. If you’re a woman who’s experiencing odor… down there… You’re certainly not alone. You're ovulating. If treatment is necessary, your doctor likely will prescribe antibiotics either in pill form or a vaginal gel or ointment. When they’re required, the benefits of antibiotics definitely outweigh the risks.

The only way to get a handle on the way your vagina smells when it's unhealthy is to get very familiar with how it smells when it's healthy, so that you have a baseline for what's normal for you and what isn't. This could be a sign of a yeast infection, especially when it is accompanied by white and clumpy discharge. Causes of vaginal bleeding during or after sex, reduced estrogen levels after menopause or surgical removal of your ovaries can cause the vaginal lining to thin, sometimes resulting in vaginal irritation, burning and dryness. Is it normal to have a persistent vaginal odor? A strange or unpleasant vaginal smell is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong and that you need to visit a doctor. When certain factors affect the complex chemistry of the vagina, harmful bacteria can grow out of control, producing a fishy odor. If you have a vaginal infection, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis , then extra bacteria in the vagina can cause smelly discharge, according to MedlinePlus.

Your Period

Fishy odor during pregnancy - reason to start worrying? A strong or foul vaginal odor, or a change in vaginal odor, may be a sign that you have an infection. You can get yeast infections from steam rooms. Keeping the vaginal area relatively dry: Candida and the many other germs that normally live in the vagina keep each other in balance.

If your odor is not fishy or yeasty and you have no uncomfortable symptoms (discharge, itch or irritation), your vaginal odor is most likely to be normal.

Your body will thank you. But, while antibiotics may seem fairly harmless, there are important side effects to consider, especially if it turns out you aren’t infected after all. Thrush resources •, also, if you’re recovering from oral thrush, try to limit your intake of yeast breads, beer, and wine, because the yeast in these products may promote the growth of candida organisms. Kaaki says kidney stones are diagnosed with pain and a change in the urine color more often than the smell.

When Should You Seek Medical Care for a Vaginal Discharge?

Because the infection had been so bad, Elist had to circumcise the patient weeks later to fully solve the problem. Untreated vaginal STDs can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and serious long term damage, including chronic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Experts are not sure what causes the bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance. Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina that can be caused by several different germs.

The overgrowth of any of these bacteria can disrupt the natural flora balance in the vagina and thereby pave the way for infections. Teaching boys to practice good hygiene from an early age is extremely important, according to Elist. As if sexually transmitted infections weren't enough fun (sarcasm, clearly), some of them can also cause foul-smelling urine, says Dr. This condition is often linked with excess growth of bacteria that are typically found in the stool.

Avoiding douches, which upset the delicate pH balance of the vagina.

It is possible to have a yeast infection and not experience symptoms.

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A discharge that’s stained with blood when you’re not having your period could also be a sign of a problem. Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults, according to the CDC , because it develops over many years. I've dealt with chronic yeast infection/ bacterial vaginitis since I was a teenager, always dealing with fishy smells. As vaginal smell tends to be particularly intense after sexual intercourse, make a habit of washing the genital area with mild soap and water once you are done. How this works. This is called nonspecific vulvovaginitis. Probiotic supplements or those found in specialty foods like yogurts can help support the body’s production and balance of healthy bacteria.

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Lume will also not cover up symptoms of internal infection, so you don't need to worry about hiding a condition that does need to be treated with antibiotics. Often your discharge will change color when you have an infection, so it may appear grayish or yellow, too. “However, 30 to 40 ounces of fluid in a day is a general rule. First, it should be noted that there are different types of vaginal infection. Here are a few things that might cause your vaginal odor to go awry: Vaginal yeast infections are common among teen girls, and about 75% of all females will have one at some point.

Don’t wear tight pants and don’t wear pantyhose in hot weather.

Like a UTI, a yeast infection usually comes with other symptoms, like itching, redness, swelling of the vagina and vulva, and thick white discharge. Normal vaginal secretions and sweating can make your private parts smell a certain way, which is referred to as vaginal odor. If you experience increased vaginal perspiration, simply wash and wipe the nether regions from time to time. When we burn energy from fat, it releases chemicals called ketones.

Yeast normally keeps the vagina clean, but too much yeast creates an imbalance that results in infection.

A Forgotten Tampon

Sometimes these “bad” bacteria and other germs that cause vaginitis can be spread through sex. What you eat may affect vaginal odor, just as it affects other parts of your body, such as your armpits, scalp, mouth, and feet. This normal vaginal discharge is typically clear or milky white in color and does not have an unpleasant odor. The optimal thing would be to be evaluated," Hoffstetter says. "Vaginal yeast infections are common; three out of four women have had one at some point during their lives. While a small amount of yeast usually chills up inside your vagina at all times, yeast infections occur when lubrications, spermicides, antibiotic use, or even pregnancy enable the fungi to overgrow, according to ACOG.

"The skin and tissues [around your vagina] are actually quite sensitive," Dr.

You might also get a whiff of a metal-esque scent if you've recently had penetrative vaginal sex — sex with someone who ejaculates can change the pH in your vagina, because semen is naturally alkaline. PID is often caused by STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia when the sketchy bacteria move from the vagina or cervix into the uterus and other reproductive organs. Fishy odor after sex - what does it mean?

Can Vaginal Discharge Be Prevented?

Both infections can be cleared up easily with a course of prescription antibiotics, so don't hesitate to see your OB/GYN. This is probably the least likely scenario here, but certain genetic disorders are associated with a bad urine odor. We will also provide you with personalised ads on partner products.

First, go see your doc STAT (to make sure everything's OK). Though it may be tempting to douche or use a vaginal deodorant to decrease vaginal odor, these products may actually increase irritation and other vaginal symptoms. But know that this doesn't signify that anything is medically wrong. Douching has been associated with several deleterious side effects, and its benefits remain unsubstantiated by research. Other symptoms of kidney stones include back, side, or groin pain; nausea or vomiting; frequent urination; blood in urine; pain with urination; and fever. Using these over-the-counter products may subdue the odor temporarily, but they can end up aggravating the irritation and other vaginal symptoms in the process.

It may lead to irritation, an unpleasant body odor, and embarrassment.

STD Quiz: Symptoms, Testing & List

In fact, if your breath smells like you just noshed on the entire grapefruit section of the grocery store, then head to your doctor immediately — it could mean you have diabetes, says Boghosian. Smell something. In this case, they'd typically share many symptoms: Uncircumcised men should retract their foreskins after urinating and clean it of any moisture or dead skin. All are more or less equally effective.

When you sweat, especially while exercising, your sweat glands in your groin secrete an oily fluid that's metabolised by bacteria on your skin. Anecdotally, your diet could affect the taste and scent of your vagina. Be sure to get screened for vaginal and anal sexually-transmitted diseases when you go for testing. Asparagus contains an acid (asparagusic acid) that causes a sulfur-like smell. That smelly urine odor is due to coffee metabolites (a. )The question isn’t really whether it smells. She pulls them aside to make sure they understand that it’s a problem caused by bacteria and that their doctor can treat it. Many of them are harmless, but in some cases, smelly urine can be a sign that something more serious is going on.

Kaaki says the number one reason for bad-smelling urine is dehydration. Pregnancy can alter the vaginal pH and, thereby, induce changes in the genital odor. Nutrition , health status, and other factors can affect the natural fragrance of the vagina. Drink a tall glass of agua before your morning brew to fend off dehydration. In addition, thongs can transfer germs from your anus to your vagina. Not engaging in oral sex with people who have thrush in their mouth:

There's no cure for the disorder, but by working with your doctor, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the smell.

You Ate Something Funky.

As straightforward as it might seem, most doctors will discourage you from diagnosing and treating a yeast infection yourself. The length of treatment may vary from one to seven days. For starters, the vagina is self-cleaning and has its own helpful bacteria and yeast, explains Dr Tami Prince, gynaecologist at Women's Health and Wellness Center of Georgia.

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This produces a noticeable smell that you can detect after a strenuous exercise session. Infection occurs in about 30% of women who are taking a course of antibiotics by mouth. Feminine odour is something all women deal with. If you suspect a UTI, talk to your doctor immediately so you can get started on an antibiotic. While BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), multiple sexual partners can upset the bacteria balance in the vagina, causing BV. This throws off the pH of your vagina and can create a bad, fishy odor in the process.

Less commonly, abnormal vaginal odor may result from: Your doctor can also give you tips on relieving burning and itching. Call your doctor immediately if you have any other symptoms, such as: Sometimes, the discharge smells different.

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No smell or odor - I use one suppository a day for 3 to 5 days during or after my period just to balance the pH and not worry about a yeast. Yeast infection from antibiotics: why it happens, functional medicine expert Dr. Don’t wait, check out all of our at home STD tests. But in some cases it can lead to serious problems. These can affect the delicate pH balance of the vagina.

Vaginal yeast infection symptoms commonly include: In initial studies, women found it easy and comfortable to use, and the L. The vagina is healthy in this acidic state and can keep the less favorable bacteria, which can lead to bad odors, in check, she says. Ross—but it's not necessarily a huge change in your pee; rather, your ability to smell it (women tend to have a slightly increased sense of smell during pregnancy).

Having BV or trichomoniasis while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, including potentially having a baby born early or with low birth weight. This article appears courtesy of Mosaic Science. Many of the same measures that can prevent bacterial vaginosis, such as avoiding scented products and never douching, are also effective in preventing yeast overgrowth.

  • This medication is taken by mouth.
  • Some STIs, notably trichomoniasis, may also alter the smell of the vagina.


Of course, the heart-healthy benefits of exercise far outweigh any worries about vaginal odor, and it's nothing a quick rinse can't fix. Candida and apple cider vinegar: friends or foes?, it was worth giving the apple cider vinegar (ACV) a chance to treat the intraoral candida case that was introduced to the dental office. Other symptoms besides a fishy smell include itching, gray or white discharge, or even burning during urination — symptoms similar to a number of STIs, so make sure to get checked out by a doctor to confirm what's actually going on. They also often occur (especially yeast infections) following a course of antibiotics taken for other reasons. It is an abnormal tunnel-like passage or tract that forms between the rectum and the vagina, usually as a result of complications during childbirth. The smell is usually caused by old blood, which has a bad scent when it oxidizes, Dr. It’s been clinically-proven to keep odor at bay for 72 hours because it paralyzes odor-causing bacteria, stopping smell before it even happens.

Bacterial vaginosis is one such infection that frequently affects women. How is it transmitted? An overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can produce a sweet smell, similar to that of honey or cookies. Yeast infection symptoms and facts every woman should know. Coffee metabolites, or the byproducts that come from coffee when it's broken down in your body, can make urine smell, Dr. It’s completely natural and normal for your vagina to have some kind of scent. Bacterial vaginosis usually does not cause other health problems. I've tried everything and I was still having recurring BV and yeast infections.

  • But if you’re experiencing external, day-to-day odor that mimics BV odor, it can be effectively alleviated with an external remedy that’s easy to use at home.
  • Periods may lead to odor, many times due to the clotting and drying of blood, not necessarily an infection.
  • Always wipe from front to back when cleaning the genital area to push the fecal matter and other germs away from the vagina rather than toward it.
  • There are over-the-counter creams that you can use on your vulva to help calm the irritation.
  • If you notice the smell and are experiencing a high fever, contact your doctor immediately.

Tests That Help Determine Yeast Infection Presence

The change in hormones in expectant moms can result in a heightened sense of smell. The good news: Perhaps there's a smell that's a little, well, funkier, than usual. Be sure to take the full course of antibiotics.

That said, certain vaginal odors can indicate things like infections, especially if they come with a side of discharge that's a different color, consistency, or amount than what you're used to, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Since off-smelling pee can be the first sign of this particular medical condition, paying attention to your urine odor can get you into the gyno sooner rather than later. If you are like most women, you will have some kind of vaginitis at least once in your life. But if you notice a stronger foul smell coming from those more subtle regions, pay attention.

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Couple that with the fact that coffee is a diuretic and you could have dehydrated (read: )This is all caused by the same skin fungus. And, of course, we’ve all heard the myth that pineapple can make your urine smell sweet—and also change the taste of your netherbits—but there’s no real scientific evidence to back that up (for some reason, it seems scientists don’t think fruity vagina smells are important enough to study). Cutaneous candidiasis, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream such as nystatin or ketoconazole if the over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective. It is completely normal to have a slight musty smell coming from the vagina, but consult a doctor if: Friction from sex can cause more irritation or make it harder to heal. It's a vagina, not a perfume counter. These are potential signs of something being off with your health, in which case you may need to call a doctor.

Most Often, It’s Day-to-day Odor Causing Any Smell Down There

People with uncontrolled diabetes will likely also have increased pee urgency or frequency, as the sugar irritates the bladder. Intercourse may also change the smell temporarily. Is the OTC drug Gyne-Lotrimin helpful if the infection comes back? You ate something funky. These reasons, among the ones listed in the beginning of this piece, is why many ladies would rather resort to getting rid of what seems to be BV on their own before visiting their doctor. (5) because lactic acid-producing lactobacilli are fewer.


When the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is upset, “bad” bacteria grow too fast and cause infections. After taking off your shoes and socks and scratching your feet, the fungus gets on your fingers. If you're experiencing a change in your vaginal scent, try a few of these recommendations to see if you can take care of it on your own. Many women may be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed. This scent will vary by person and may be described as fleshy or musky. No one knows what causes it; the infectious agent or agents have yet to be identified.