What Is Feminine Odor

in Healthy Living, Women Health


A healthy vagina emits a discrete feminine odor on occasion. For most women, it is entirely normal to have a mild natural smell, one that is neutral and subtle.

What Is Feminine Odor?

Feminine OdorThe problem with foul smelling feminine odor is that it can affect a woman’s relationship and limit sexual activity. She may feel so uncomfortable with the smell that she avoids contact with her partner leading to misunderstandings.

It is quite normal to produce a mild vaginal odor sometimes. Each individual woman has a particular vaginal smell, depending on the time of her cycle. Also, vaginal discharge is normal for women. Having a vaginal discharge with odor can also be embarrassing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a vaginal infection.

A woman’s vagina generally generates discharge that is depicted as clear to cloudy, non-irritating, and of small amount. During particular times of the month, this genital discharge may be of slight amount and considered very thin or watery. At other times, the discharge could be thicker and heavier, all of which is accepted as normal.

You may be wondering what type of feminine odor needs treated and which kind is no cause of concern. There are many different types of vaginal odor. It could be urine odor, a fishy vaginal odor, the odor of a yeast infection, or something more worrisome. Serious changes in smell accompanied by other symptoms, deserves attention because it could be the sign of a vaginal infection.

It is pertinent to note that when the odor becomes repugnant and unpleasant or is associated with genital changes, you may want to consider seeing a gynecologist. This should be done to evaluate for sexually transmitted diseases and other vaginal conditions. A vaginal discharge that has a strong odor, or that is annoying, typically is considered an abnormal discharge. Even having a slight feminine odor is disregarded as normal for some women.

Signs and Symptoms That I’m Suffering From Vaginal Odor?

Depending on the cause, the symptoms of a vaginal infection will vary from woman to woman. Some individuals have no symptoms or feminine odor at all. Others may have many symptoms. These include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Unpleasant genital odor
  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning with urination
  • Pain with intercourse

What Are The Main Causes of Feminine Odor?

“Vaginitis” is a medical word used by doctors to describe numerous conditions that result in inflammation or infection of the vagina. The term “vulvovaginitis” refers to both inflammation and infection of the vagina as well as the vulva (the outside portion of the female genitals). Both of these circumstances can result from organisms such as yeast, bacteria, or viruses, as well as by particular irritants from sprays, creams, or clothing. Basically, anything that comes in contact with your vagina could irritate it and lead to a feminine odor or fishy vaginal smell.

There are six common causes of vaginal odor and infection. These include candida vaginitis or “yeast” infection, trichomoniasis vaginitis, chlamydia vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, viral vaginitis, and non-infectious vaginitis.

Medical Causes

Candida Vaginitis – Commonly referred to as a “yeast infection”, this is caused by one of the many species of fungus known as Candida. This organism normally lives in the vagina in small quantities, as well as in the digestive tract and mouths of both men and women. Yeast infections typically produce a white, thick vaginal discharge that has the consistency of cottage cheese. Some women who have Candida vaginitis do not have a feminine odor but others do. The vagina and vulva gets very irritated, red, and itchy with this particular condition.

Trichomoniasis Vaginitis – This is one of the vaginal infections that spreads through sexual contact. Caused by a single-celled, small organism, Trichomoniasis causes a greenish-yellow, frothy discharge with a foul smell. Most women with this condition complain of soreness and itching of the vulva and vagina. The symptoms of this type of vaginitis are often worse after the woman’s menstrual period.

Chlamydia Vaginitis – This is another sexually transmitted disease that leads to pain with intercourse for some women. Many who are infected with Chlamydia have no symptoms at all, however. The vaginal discharge also varies with this type of vaginitis and could range from thin and clear to thick and foul. Chlamydia vaginitis is more common in younger women, particularly those who have multiple sexual partners.

Bacterial Vaginosis – Although bacterial vaginosis is not transmitted through sexual intercourse, it is more common in women who are sexually active. The vaginal discharge associated with this condition is considered to be of a “fishy” odor, thin and milky, from clear to gray in color, and irritating to the vulva and vagina. The fishy vaginal odor is a cause for much embarrassment for the woman and the odor gets worse during sexual activity.

Viral Vaginitis – There are many sexually transmitted diseases caused by viruses. Some of these can lead to viral vaginitis. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is associated with painful lesions or “sores” on the vagina or vulva regions. This virus can be associated with vaginal discharge that produces a vaginal smell. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is often referred to as “genital warts” because it produces visible warty growths on the vagina, vulva, and cervix. The vaginal discharge associated with HPV can be odorous and irritating.

Non-Medical Causes

Non-Infectious Vaginitis – Caused by vaginal irritants, this condition can produce a variety of feminine odor for many women. The causes of non-infectious vaginitis include added fabric softener, a change in laundry detergent or soap, feminine sprays or douches, tampons, sanitary napkins, or other substances that irritate the vagina and genital areas.

What Can I Do to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor?

The key to appropriate treatment of vaginal odor is correct diagnosis. Because symptoms vary from woman to woman, this is not easily done, however. The medical causes must be treated by a qualified doctor. Great over-the-counter medications are available to treat yeast vaginitis, however. If you are concerned about trichomoniasis, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, HSV, or HPV, a medical evaluation is warranted.

Non-infectious vaginitis can be treated by changing the probable cause. If you have recently had a change in your hygiene routine, consider stopping the new product to see if your symptoms improve. Other helpful hints include:

  • Avoid tight pants
  • Wear loose clothing of natural fibers, like cotton or silk
  • Limit the use of feminine deodorant
  • Choose unscented sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Avoid bubble baths or frequent hot tub baths
  • Avoid douching as this can produce a feminine odor
  • Eat yogurt and a well-balanced diet
  • Don’t sit around in a wet bathing suit

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