Vaginas, man. What lovely, curious, finicky things. If you’ve noticed you’re smelling a little ‘funky’ down there, (and by funky we mean any odour that doesn’t seem ‘normal’ to you, we’re not being judgey), you could be dealing with one of the issues listed below.
1 Bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is described as a condition caused by changes in the number of certain types of bacteria in your vagina. BV is very common and all women are at risk of getting it. But don’t fret, this condition is easily treatable with meds from your doctor. While easily cured, BV, if left untreated, can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and potentially cause problems during pregnancy.
According to womenshealth.gov, these are the symptoms you should look out for:
- Unusual vaginal discharge. The discharge can be white (milky) or grey. It may also be foamy or watery. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.
- Burning when urinating
- Itching around the outside of the vagina
- Vaginal irritation
2 A good ol’ classic case of the yeast infection
While yeast infections can present in much the same way as BV, the odour associated with a yeast infection isn’t quite as strong. “Vaginal discharge associated with yeast infections tends to have a cottage cheeselike appearance and can be odourless, though sometimes it can produce a mild odor that essentially smells like bread or yeast,” says Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe on sheknows.com.
3 You may have an STI
Namely chlamydia, gonorrhea or Trichomoniasis. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are easy to treat, says Okeke-Igbokwe, but they can lead to some serious problems if not dealt with. While both of these infections might not always present symptoms, you should look out for painful urination, a pus-like discharge, and an unpleasant odour.
When it comes to Trichomoniasis, you may experience a greenish discharge with some pretty potent (read: bad) odour, as well as pain while urinating. This infection is treated with antibiotics.
4 It might simply be down to poor hygiene
According to Dr Okeke-Igbokwe, sweating and not washing yourself correctly can lead to vaginal odour. ‘Increased sweating after exercise or increased physical activity may certainly lead to vaginal odour.’
Don’t panic, the solution is painfully simple. ‘Maintaining good hygiene is essential to avoid[ing] feminine odor. Routine showering is highly encouraged.’
The doctor recommends using gentle, fragrance-free soaps to ensure you don’t irritate such a sensitive area. Other ways to ensure you’re lovely vag is in tip-top shape? ‘Make sure you wipe from front to back after using the restroom and wear clean (ideally cotton-crotch) underwear every day, even if you don’t have time to shower.’
5 Did you perhaps forget something up there?
Let’s be frank, a forgotten tampon is an error that many of us have made. This mistake happens to be one that often leads to vaginal odour. ‘A retained tampon in the vagina for extended time periods can be quite dangerous,’ explains Dr Okeke-Igbokwe. ‘Not only may it cause increased vaginal odour, but in some instances may lead to toxic shock syndrome.’
Remember to change your tampon religiously every eight hours (if not less) and if you realise you’ve left one in, fish that sucker out ASAP.
If you’re concerned you’re suffering from any of the above STIs, get to your gynae asap for a check up.
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