Smelly Vaginal Discharge

This post is a response by a doctor to a question one of our community members asked.

Paz Asks:

I’ve had smelly vaginal discharge for a while now have had 2 swabs and come back no infections, but the discharge odor is fowl smelling. Sometimes can be orange.

Dr Nitesh’s reply:

Some amount of vaginal discharge is completely normal. Odour and amount of this physiological discharge can vary with your menstrual cycle. For example you can have more vaginal discharges when you are breast feeding or ovulating. Sexual arousal can be another common cause of increased vaginal discharges. These vaginal discharges prevent infection in your vagina by carrying away dead cells and bacteria.

Abnormal vaginal discharges can occur with changes in the normal vaginal flora. Depending on the type of pathogen that dominates this vaginal invasion odour, colour and amount of vaginal discharge can vary. Disturbance in normal vaginal flora can occur with recent antibiotic or steroid use, Sexually transmitted diseases, use of birth control pills, bubble bath, menopause, pelvic inflammatory diseases, Multiple sexual partners etc.

White, grey or sometimes yellow discharge with fishy odour can occur with bacterial vaginosis, Vaginosis leads to itching and redness along with mild swelling of vagina. Gonorrhoeal infection can lead to cloudy or yellowish discharges along with bleeding in between periods, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence. Trichomoniasis causes discharge with bad smell and frothy or greenish colour and leads to pain while urination. Yeast infection can cause thick, white, cheesy discharge and leads to swelling of vulva or vagina and itching. Pink vaginal discharge is normal after child birth and occurs due to shedding of the uterine wall. No condition is shown to cause orange vaginal discharge.

If repeated tests have ruled out infection then following steps should be taken to control and prevent infections. You should keep your vagina    clean by gently washing with warm water and mild soap, dry the area properly after wash. Always wipe your vagina from front to back after bathroom. Avoid using scented soaps, feminine sprays, douche and bubble baths. Use cotton underpants and avoid tight clothing.

The detection techniques are not 100% sensitive and if symptoms are not relieved after these changes in daily habits, a course of antibiotic therapy may be tried as per the doctor’s advice. PAP smear may be advised by your doctor after antibiotic use.

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