A healthy vagina is said to smell a distinct odor at a particular time throughout her menstrual cycle. This whiff is due to the secretions of the apocrine glands, which are also found in the armpit and causes body odor, and vaginal glands. A woman’s physical activities and the kinds of food she consumes may also affect her feminine smell. How she dresses, how hygienic she is, what her bowel habits are and also the level of bacteria present in her vagina are also factors that affect how her private part smells.
[quote] Researchers have found that women secrete at least one other attracting pheromone from their vagina. 1 [/quote]
You should not be too bothered when you perceive an odor from your vagina. You should not even try to hide it by spraying perfume on it. Doing so might only block out the pheromones for attracting your man. The vagina has its special smell, but when that odor becomes quite intense and rather unpleasant, you should know that there must be something wrong. When you smell a fishy odor between your legs the smart thing to do is to see your gynecologist to diagnose the cause of your smelly vagina. There can be many causes for vaginal odor that your doctor can help enlighten you with.
The Fishy-Smelling Vagina
[quote] Vaginal odor is any abnormal odor which originates from the vagina. An abnormal vaginal odor is often described as having a “fishy” smell. 2 [/quote]
This fishy smell is also referred to as feminine odor. Depending on what has caused this fishy smell, you may experience other symptoms such as discharge and itching. Read on to find out some of the more commonly known causes of smelly vagina.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
[quote] Helen, 23, had two episodes of bacterial vaginosis (BV) a few months apart. Now that she’s been given the all clear, she wants to encourage other women to seek treatment.
“I first noticed a really bad, fishy smell,” she says. “I’m a very hygienic person and it was just awful to have that smell coming from me. 3 [/quote]
About half of all the cases associated with foul vaginal odor is caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV). Along with the foul smell are vaginal itching and vaginal discharge. This condition is due to bacterial overgrowth in the vagina. Any woman who is in a childbearing age can suffer from BV; at high risks are pregnant women and those with multiple sex partners. You may not know you have BV as symptoms sometimes do not manifest. It is only after a medical examination by your doctor that you will discover you have it.
It is another vaginal infection that causes fishy smell along with other symptoms such as discharges, itchiness, and redness of vulva/vagina. Age extremities like post-menopausal woman and pre-pubertal girls are more likely to be infected with vaginitis. This is due to the insufficient level of estrogen that leads to higher pH levels in the vagina. There are also non-infective or non-specific vaginitis cases that can occur because of other factors like sexual trauma of the vagina, use of harsh soap when washing, use of antimicrobial medications and allergic reactions to deodorants. While you may be tempted to use strong smelling soaps and washes to get rid of the foul odor, remember that this is not recommended as it may only worsen your condition.
Foreign Bodies In The Vagina
Foul feminine odor may also develop when there are foreign bodies inside the vagina. A number of women use tampons during their menstrual periods and, for some reason, they forget to remove or change the inserted tampons. It can set off bacterial overgrowth, thus, developing that distinctive fishy odor along with discharges. Foreign bodies inside your va-jay-jay can also mean medical devices such as a pessary, which is made of silicone and used to provide support for pelvic organ prolapse.
[quote] A 41-year-old woman in Australia has smelled like rotten fish all her life. The pervasive smell emanates from her sweat, breath, and urine, and cannot be washed off or covered up. After being “sniffed” by doctor after doctor, all of whom waved her off as a hypochondriac or even prescribed vaginal cauterization, she was finally diagnosed with trimethylaminuria… 4 [/quote]
[quote]Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine … 5 [/quote]
This is one cause of foul feminine odor that you will certainly not wish to have. Trimethylaminuria is a rare condition (only about 600 cases are present all over the world) that has no known cure yet. The compound trimethylamine is obtained from one’s diet and is the culprit for that rotten fish smell. When it builds up in the body, an afflicted individual may start to emit fishy odor whose intensity can vary after a while. Such natural scent of a person can greatly interfere with her social life, personal relationships and career. Along with the fishy smell, that person can ultimately suffer from depression and isolation from society. It may also be possible that she will develop obsessive hygienic habits or even smoking habits to obscure the fishy smell emanating from her. In this case, a preventive method commonly advised is to limit the intake of foods that contain trimethylamine.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
STIs are also known causes of bad vaginal smell. Popular examples are Gonnorhea and Chlamydia. The cervix may be inflamed so if you suspect that you have these infections, it is best to see your doctor immediately.
Other Vagina-Associated Conditions
There are other medical conditions that can make your vagina smell, such as cervical/vaginal cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease and rectovaginal fistula. Aside from vaginal odor, other symptoms include pain, irregular bleeding, fever and discharge. With the rectovaginal fistula, a woman’s vagina may suffer from trauma when she delivered her child. A fistula or abnormal opening may result that will allow feces to leak into her vagina and thus create a rather offensive smell. These conditions require immediate medical treatment.
Poor Personal Hygiene
The vagina, being always warm and moist, is a typical breeding ground for pathogens. If you are not fond of cleaning or washing the external surface of your vagina, it may lead to bad feminine odor. Your vagina is one of the most precious parts as a woman. It needs your love and care for it to stay in optimum condition.
- Human Pheromones: The Science Behind the Scent of Attraction – http://www.smart-publications.com/articles/human-pheromones-the-science-behind-the-scent-of-attraction/ ↩
- Vaginal odor – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-odor/MY00555/ ↩
- Bacterial vaginosis – Helen’s story – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Bacterialvaginosis/Pages/Helensstory.aspx ↩
- Rare Genetic Condition Makes Woman Smell Like Fish- http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2008/10/22/rare-genetic-condition-makes-woman-smell-like-fish/ ↩
- Fish Odor Syndrome (Trimethylaminuria) – http://www.medicinenet.com/fish_odor_syndrome_trimethylaminuria/page2.htm#what_is_fish_odor_syndrome_trimethylaminuria ↩