What vaginal odor means and what can be done to help

Vaginal odor

Vaginal odor is an embarrassing problem and can interfere with intimacy because, well who wants him down there with that problem, right? So let’s talk about what this odor means and what can be done to help. Vaginal odor, no matter the cause, is a distressing thing to try to deal with. There can be many causes. Most of you have heard of BV, or bacterial vaginosis, and know about the odor that can accompany it. It is the most common vaginal infection and is caused by an imbalance of the normal bacterial environment. This is found most commonly in women of childbearing age that are sexually active, but all women are at risk. Normally the vagina maintains a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria but BV happens when the bad bacteria outgrow the good bacteria. This imbalance interferes with the vagina’s ability to “self-clean”, as the predominant bacteria is smothered out and overtaken by the bad species of bacteria not normally found in the vagina.

A healthy vagina normally contains many microorganisms. The most common is from the Lactobacilli family, commonly found in yogurt and beneficial to the vagina as it is a hydrogen peroxide-producing species, which helps prevent other vaginal microorganisms from multiplying to a level where they cause symptoms. The microorganisms involved in BV are very diverse but include Gardnerella Vaginalis, Mobiluncus, Bacteroides and Mycoplasma.

The bad bacteria can cause symptoms like itching, burning, pain, and can even give you a bladder infection. In pregnant women, it can cause preterm birth and low birth weight babies. There can be a noticeable thin, grey-white discharge with an unpleasant fishy odor that accompanies it. This discharge coats and clings to the vaginal walls, preventing the release of normal discharge that is used to clear the vagina of unwanted bacteria.

However, you should note that vaginal odor does not necessarily mean you have a BV infection. Yeast, trichomoniasis, and other STDs can also be a cause. And, sometimes vaginal odor occurs without any infection at all. Anything that would disrupt the normal vaginal pH can cause vaginal odor and, if left untreated, can reach the level of a BV infection. Many things can disrupt this vaginal environment: menstrual cycles (blood is neutral pH), sexual activity (semen is a sugary, alkaline fluid), hormone imbalance, antibiotics and douching, which can sterilize the normal vaginal environment and create recurrent vaginal infections.

Most often when vaginal odor occurs, we seek out medical help and are prescribed antibiotics that destroy the bad bacteria only. This can help until it returns again, at which point the treatment will need to be repeated. Some feel that eating yogurt or taking herbal preparations with lactobacilli will cure and prevent BV. What do I think? I think yogurt is good, and eating it will help your digestion and intestinal tract, but you would have to put it in your vagina for it to help there (not recommended).
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