Every woman has her own scent down there — and it’s totally normal. However, if your vagina has a fishy smell, it’s important to see a doctor.
A fishy vagina can be a sign of an infection or an imbalance of bacteria that requires treatment. The following conditions may cause a fishy vagina odor: Bacterial Vaginosis, Trichomoniasis, and Rectovaginal Fistula.
If you’re experiencing a fecal smell in your vagina, it may be an indicator of bacterial vaginosis. This is a condition that occurs when the “bad guys” outnumber the good bacteria in the area. The odor can be mild or strong and is often accompanied by discharge that looks like cottage cheese.
In most cases, you can treat this condition with antibiotics, but you should always see a healthcare provider when the issue persists. In addition to antibiotics, you should also try wiping from the front to the back after urinating and making bowel movements. This can help prevent bacteria from leaking from the rectum to the vagina.
Most healthy women’s vaginas have a mild, sweet odor that is similar to the fermented foods you might find in your refrigerator, such as yogurt or sourdough bread. But that can change during menstruation, pregnancy, or when exercising and having sex. If the odor is strong, it may indicate that unhealthy bacteria have taken over.
A coppery or metallic scent is another indication that something is wrong with your vagina. This is due to iron in your blood, which is often shed during menstruation. It can also happen if you have a retrovaginal fistula, which is when an opening forms between the rectum and the vagina after childbirth. This can cause fecal-like odor and pain during sexual intercourse.
There are times when a sudden, strong odor from the vulva might be a sign that something is wrong. While everyone’s vulva smells slightly different, an off-the-norm scent could be an indication that there is an imbalance of the microflora in your vagina.
Usually, your vagina contains the bacteria Lactobacilli, which help keep your vulva’s pH acidic, rather than alkaline. This helps keep the less desirable bacteria, which can cause odors, in check. However, if the bacterium Chlamydia and/or Trichomonas vaginalis become more dominant, your vagina may start to smell like feces.
Trichomonas, which is also known as trich, is an STD that can be transmitted by sexual contact. This infection is more pungent than BV, and can sometimes be accompanied by a greenish discharge. It is important to get trich treated early, as it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which in turn can impact fertility.
Luckily, both BV and trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics. This will restore the balance of your bacterial microflora and, in most cases, eliminate any unpleasant odors or changes in taste. In addition, it is important to wash the external genital area using mild soap and water on a daily basis to avoid transferring fecal bacteria from the anus to the vagina. Wiping from front to back is also helpful, as this can reduce the amount of time fecal bacteria are exposed to.
Women with rectovaginal fistula, or an abnormal opening between the rectum and the vagina, might experience fecal odor from the discharge. This is usually caused by the passage of stool and gas into the vagina, leading to a foul smell and pain during bowel movements or urination.
A gynecologist can diagnose this condition by taking a sample of the discharge and running tests to find the cause. A rectovaginal fistula can be treated by surgery and a special procedure that involves sewing together healthy tissue. This can be done by a gynecologist or colorectal surgeon working as a team.
Anytime you notice an unusual odor, it’s important to see your doctor. Whether it’s a change in your discharge or an unpleasant odor, it could be an indication of a serious health issue.
Remember, good hygiene and regular visits to the gynecologist can prevent most problems with the vagina. So, if you’re experiencing an unpleasant odor, don’t ignore it! Seeing your doctor will help you figure out what’s causing it and put you on the road to recovery. Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with the unpleasantness of a fecal odor in your vagina again. Good luck! And don’t forget to get screened for sexually transmitted infections. STIs, such as trichomoniasis and chlamydia, can also cause a fecal odor.
Cervical or Vaginal Cancer
A change in vaginal odor can be a sign of infection or even cancer, Wider says. STIs such as trichomoniasis can cause a fishy smell, while chlamydia and gonorrhea create more of a putrid stench. In some cases, cervical cancer cells can get infected and produce a foul-smelling discharge that contains bits of dead tissue. This can occur if the cancer is near or pressing against a blood vessel, which can interrupt the flow of oxygen to the cell.
If you’re experiencing a strong poopy-like smell, see a doctor immediately. Describe the symptoms you’re having to help your doctor determine what’s causing the smell.
All vaginas have a slight scent, and it may vary with hormone levels or the menstrual cycle. But if the odor is off, it’s important to see your doctor to make sure everything is fine.
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your history with health problems and symptoms. You’ll probably also have a pelvic CT scan or an ultrasound, which will help your doctor look for abnormalities in your reproductive organs and surrounding structures. In some cases, you might have a MRI. The doctor will then decide what the best course of treatment is based on your age, health and medical history, symptoms and test results. This might include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.