It can get embarrassing when you have any type of body odour but it's especially so when your lady parts smell. It's not uncommon though and, thankfully, it can be easily eliminated, as long as you look out for the signs. Here are five causes of vaginal odour and how to prevent it.
1) Yeast Infection
What is it: This is a very common type of fungal infection and is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast known as candida. The most obvious symptom is the presence of a thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Other symptoms include redness and itching around the vaginal area, as well as a burning sensation or pain when you urinate or have sex. Even though yeast infections don't come with a strong odour, there can sometimes also be a mild scent that resembles bread or yeast.
How to treat it: The good news is that yeast infections are pretty easy to treat. Over-the-counter antifungal treatment creams are readily available from pharmacies or you can get an easier oral alternative, from your doctor. If it's your first time getting a yeast infection, see your doctor first before you buy any medications, and if it doesn't improve or keeps returning, get some advice from your doctor too.
How to prevent it: The best way to prevent getting yeast infections is to keep your vaginal area cool and dry – don't wear tight-fitting jeans and trousers, for example – and avoid perfumed products around that area too, such as scented feminine hygiene products. Wearing cotton underwear is also advised as the material absorbs moisture and perspiration well. Also, always wipe from front to back after you've been to the bathroom, as this prevents bacteria from your anus transferring to your vagina.
ALSO READ: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YEAST INFECTIONS
2) Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STIs)
What is it: The symptoms of common STIs chlamydia and gonorrhea include an unpleasant odour in the vaginal area. These STIs also come with other uncomfortable issues such as pain during urination. Unfortunately, many STIs go untreated because they may not produce any symptoms. And, if left untreated, it could learn to long-term damage and even infertility.
How to treat it: Once diagnosed, chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treated with antibiotics.
How to prevent it: Always use protection while having sexual intercourse.
3) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
What is it: This disease is what can happen when an STI such as chlamydia and gonorrhea goes untreated. It's an infection of your reproductive organs and symptoms include pain in your pelvic and abdominal area, as well as painful intercourse. And one of the main ways that is makes itself known is through a very foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Unfortunately, the disease sometimes doesn't show any symptoms and it might only be diagnosed when you can't seem to get pregnant or suffer from chronic pain.
How to treat it: Although it can be treated with antibiotics, the damage that it does before that can be lasting and can lead to issues such as chronic pain and infertility.
How to prevent it: Always practice safe sex so that you don't contract an STI that could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. Or, if you do catch an STI, treat it immediately.
4) Bacterial Vaginosis
What is it: The clue is in the name. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there's an excess of naturally-occurring bacteria in the vagina. Every woman's vagina has a certain amount of bacteria and this condition is a result of an overgrowth of this bacteria. It's a very common condition and most women will experience it at least once in their lives. You'll get a discharge with a fishy odour and the smell tends to be more apparent just after you've had sex. Other symptoms include soreness and itching in the vaginal area.
How to treat it: It's rare to get any serious complications as a result of bacterial vaginosis but it does happen. So see your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms and it will easily go away with a dose of antibiotics.
How to prevent it: It's not known what causes bacterial vaginosis but having unprotected sex and douching frequently will put you in a higher-risk category.
5) Bad Personal Hygiene
What is it: It's very important to keep things clean and fresh 'down there'. Because, if you have poor hygiene, it's going to end up smelling, just like with any other part of your body. This is especially so if you're the type who sweats a lot. And, with our sticky, humid weather, we're all prone to some amount of perspiration anyway so keep yourself fresh at all times, especially after exercise.
How to prevent it: When in the shower, clean the area with a mild, scent-free body wash or soap – you don't want any other perfumes to inadvertently add to any bad smells there. It's also always best to wear cotton underwear as it allows your skin to breathe, which is a very important factor in keeping your vaginal area fresh. Also, don't use vaginal douches, no matter what they promise to do to your lady bits.