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Genital odor in women

Genital odor in women could be normal and abnormal. Each healthy woman has pretty specific vaginal smell and vaginal pheromones which attract men. But sometimes genital odor could change and become strong, unpleasant and embarrassing. Genital smell can vary throughout the menstrual cycle. Unpleasant genital odor could be stressful, particularly if it is noticed and commented on by someone else. Genital odor is a combination of several factors including vaginal secretion, pheromones, bacteria metabolism, sometimes urine and feces. Bad unpleasant genital smell can be associated with several factors including sexually transmitted infections, hormonal dysfunctions, excessive sweating, poor hygiene and strange missed objects.

Genital odor in women – causes

Genital odor causes could be different and in each case the detailed investigations should be made. Often few infections can be responsible for odor and each infection should be treated separately. Sometimes women can eliminate the odor just by changing the diet or wearing not synthetic and not tight cloths.

Genital odor in women – infections

Few infections could be responsible for unpleasant genital smell:

  • Bacterial vaginosis;
  • Trichomoniasis;
  • Vulva ulcers – mainly due to donovanosis (granuloma inguinale) or chancroid;
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) triggered by sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Vaginitis, vulvovagititis and colpitis triggered by several microbes including candida (yeast infection);
  • Vaginal fistula (rectovaginal, vesicovaginal, colovaginal, ureterovaginal, urethrovaginal, enterovaginal);
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa (pimple-like bumps).

Most common cause of vaginal odor is bacterial vaginosis (disbalance of vaginal bacteria). The typical symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include fishy vaginal smell, thin white-gray vaginal discharge and burning sensations in vagina and during urination.

Trichomoniasis is one of sexually transmitted infections. It can cause genital odor, greenish-yellow frothy vaginal discharge, burning sensations in vagina and during urination.

Yeast infection can cause thick cottage cheese like white vaginal discharge, intensive vaginal itching, soreness, burning sensation during urination and intercourse.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is the infection of reproductive organs – it appears as a complication of sexually transmitted diseases (mainly Chlamydia and gonorrhea). Symptoms include genital foul odor, vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, fever and infertility.

Genital odor in women – hormonal dysfunctions

Genital odor in women

It is well known that genital smell can be different during menstrual cycles depending on hormonal fluctuations. During main physiological hormonal changing periods (puberty and menopause) women also could experience different genital odor. Hormonal dysfunctions (mainly reduced levels of female hormones) could trigger genital smell. In general, reduced estrogen levels cause vaginal tissue to thin and become less acidic (changing vaginal metabolism and vaginal smell).

Genital odor in women – daily diet

“You are what you eat”. Actually daily diet (some specific foods) can affect vaginal odor as well as smell in armpits, scalp, mouth and feet. It is well known that foods with strong scents like chilies, pepper, garlic, onion, blue cheese, cabbage, fish and broccoli tend to have the most impact.

Genital odor in women – excessive sweating and poor hygiene

Excessive sweating and poor hygiene combined with obesity often trigger unpleasant vaginal odor. This smell is a combination of vaginal apocrine sweat glands secretion (metabolized by vaginal bacteria) and sweat from obese skin folds – both trapped by not fresh tight synthetic underwear and cloths.
At the same time excessive sweating after physical exercises also can lead to vaginal odor, and this is why personal daily routine hygiene is essential for vaginal odor prevention. Sometimes vaginal douching could be the easiest and simple solution.

Genital odor in women – forgotten objects

Forgotten foreign objects in the vagina such as menstrual hygienic tampons, diaphragms or sponges could trigger not only unpleasant vaginal smell but also secondary vaginal infections, irritation and vaginal itching.

For avoiding vaginal smell, vaginal infection and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), never keep the same tampon in the vagina for more than 8 hours.

Genital odor in women – rare causes

  • Chronic constipation combined with bloating and rectal gases;
  • Urinary system (renal system) disturbances combined with increased ammonia smell;
  • Vulval cancer with necrotic processes;
  • Psychiatric conditions.

Genital odor in women – tests

Vaginal odor causes could be identified by several diagnostic tests including home tests, laboratory tests, vulval swabs for microbiology and bacteriological tests.

Genital odor in women – general recommendations

  • Pay special attention to daily private hygiene (shower, bath);
  • Avoid tight and synthetic underwear;
  • Wear loose cotton clothing to increase body;
  • Underwear should be changed every day after shower;
  • Vaginal tampon should be changed frequently (maximum stay is 8 hours);
  • Control your weight and keep healthy Body Mass Index (BMI);
  • Keep your gastro-enteral and renal systems healthy.

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