What is an unusual vaginal odor?
Just like the discharge from the vagina, vaginal odor is normal until it has a change. The change is considered unusual because it is abnormal. All vaginas have a scent that is considered natural, but if the odor is smelly or unpleasant, it is an indication that there is something unusual going on. In most cases, the unusual vaginal smell will come from a vaginal discharge. This type of discharge is typically caused by an infection. Most people tend to use washes and sprays to get rid of the odor but this only makes things worse.
Common causes if unusual vaginal odor:
- Menstrual cycle
- Poor hygiene
- Irritation caused by douching
- leaving a tampon for too long
- Scented lotions or soaps allergies
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Yeast infections
Less common causes of unusual vaginal odor:
- Vaginal cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Rectovaginal fistula
What’s the vaginal odor like?
- Unpleasant smelling
- “Fishy” smelling
Which STDs cause vaginal odor?
Most STDs that lead to vaginal discharge will also cause vaginal odor. The most common sexually transmitted diseases that cause vaginal discharge are gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, the discharge is bloody. Chlamydia is more common in women and gonorrhea mostly appears together with chlamydia and this is known as a co-infection. Fortunately, you can treat these two infections with antibiotics but if left untreated, they can result in very serious health conditions.
Trichomoniasis, is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a protozoan parasite. This infection is also known to cause a vaginal discharge with a strong, smelly odor.
The first step towards knowing the cause of your vaginal odor is getting tested. If you are sexually active, frequent STD tests will save you from serious infections. Some of these infections will not show any symptoms and this means that they might progress to stages that are difficult to manage or treat.
- “Maintaining Vaginal Health.” Cornell Health. https://health.cornell.edu/sites/health/files/pdf-library/Maintaining-Vaginal-Health.pdf
- “Vaginal Itching and Discharge – Adult and Adolescent.” Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003158.htm