Vaginal odorBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-odor/MY00555
Vaginal odor is any abnormal odor which originates from the vagina. An abnormal vaginal odor is often described as having a "fishy" smell. Abnormal vaginal odor is often associated with other symptoms such as vaginal itching or irritation and vaginal discharge.
Bacterial vaginosis, or overgrowth of normally occurring vaginal bacteria, is the most common cause of vaginal odor. Some sexually transmitted diseases may cause vaginal odor. A retained or forgotten tampon may eventually cause a vaginal odor. Less commonly, vaginal odor may be attributed to a rectovaginal fistula — an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina which allows feces to leak into the vagina.
Commonly, vaginal odor may be caused by:
Less commonly, vaginal odor may result from:
When to see a doctor
If you are concerned about an abnormal or persistent vaginal odor, see your doctor — especially if you have other symptoms such as itching, burning or discharge.
In the meantime, to minimize vaginal odor:
- Wash your external genital area. During regular baths or showers, use a very small amount of mild, unscented soap and lots of water.
- Avoid douching. All healthy vaginas contain some bacteria and other organisms. The normal acidity of the vagina keeps bacteria and yeast in check. But douching can actually upset this delicate balance.
- Bacterial vaginosis — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/STD/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Hillard PA. Vaginal signs and symptoms: Vaginal discharge. In: Hillard PA. The 5-minute Obstetrics and Gynecology Consult. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008:48.
- Husain A, et al. Recto-vaginal fistula. In: Hillard PA. The 5-minute Obstetrics and Gynecology Consult. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008:162.