Tweet Pin Feminine odor, unfortunately, is one of those things that is shrouded in mystery, which makes most of us feel like we're kind of walking the path alone whenever something smells off. This probably stems from the fact that our vaginas and the smells they emit are not exactly something we like to discuss at happy hour or over dinner — but the truth of the matter is feminine odor is a fact of life and happens to everyone.
Here's what you need to know: We all have a distinct "brand" that's a combination of the natural bacteria that reside in our vaginal tracts, diet, hygiene, clothing choices and gland secretions. When your personal odor suddenly takes a turn for the worse, it's worth paying attention to, even if it's a bit unsettling. Here are five of the most common reasons and one less common reason the smell of your vagina might start to change.
In fact, BV is the most common cause of vaginal odor according to the Mayo Clinic. Every vagina is filled with naturally occurring bacteria, and BV is simply an overgrowth of that bacteria. The cause is unknown, but unprotected sex and frequent douching can put you at higher risk. Other symptoms include itching, soreness and discharge. BV may cause a fishy, malodorous discharge. This odor is usually most prominent after sexual intercourse.
Treatment for BV is usually antibiotics. Yeast infection A yeast infection is also very common and very uncomfortable! They present much like BV, with the addition of a thick, white discharge. But here's the kicker: Yeast infections are often easy to miss because they don't have a very strong smell.
A yeast infection is a very common fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of yeast called candida, Okeke-Igbokwe explains. These infections are treated with antifungal medications. Your doctor may also recommend a one-time oral antifungal treatment. Treatment for yeast infections has become very simple and can even be purchased over the counter. Sexually transmitted infections Some STIs can cause feminine odor, the most common being chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Both diseases are common and easy to treat, but can cause serious complications if they go untreated. Unfortunately, both are also often undiagnosed because they may or may not produce symptoms.
The most common symptoms of chlamydia and gonorrhea include painful urination and pus-like discharge, although an unpleasant odor is often present as well. That's not all — "Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the parasite trichomonas vaginalis," Okeke-Igbokwe continues.
This infection is also treated with antibiotics. A version of this article was originally published in April