Women's health

My vagina is smelly! Help!

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common cause of unusual vaginal discharge with odour. BV is not a sexually transmitted infection but it can increase your risk of getting an STD. BV is usually caused by various bacterias such as Gardnerella vaginalis.

The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is unusual vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex. You may also notice a change to the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery. However, about  50% of women with bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms. Less commonly, there may be burning sensation during urination and itching outside the vagina opening.

BV is usually not considered harmful but it can increase your risks of sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea leading to development of pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also cause complications during pregnancy leading to premature delivery, loss of pregnancy, infection of the womb after delivery  and inflammation of the the membranes surrounding the fetus.

BV is caused by an imbalance of naturally occurring bacterial flora in a woman’s vagina. The vagina contains mostly 'good'  bacteria and some harmful bacteria. The 'good' bacteria such as Lactobacilli  produces lactic acid, making the vagina slightly acidic. This prevents other 'bad' bacteria from growing. When the balance of 'good' and 'bad' bacteria are disturbed, the number of harmful bacteria increases leading to infection such as bacterial vaginosis. It is different from other type of vaginal infection such as candidiasis or Trichomoniasis. 

Risk factors of developing BV includes douching practice, use of harsh soap or scented feminine products and having a new or multiple sex partners. Treatment of BV includes use of oral antibiotic called Metronidazole or pessary (Flagystatin). Untreated BV can lead to various complications especially during pregnancy. Women who undergoing pelvic surgery such as hysterectomy will be treated before going for the procedure regardless of symptoms. Male partners do not usually need treatment, but BV can spread between female sex partners.

If you experience changes in vaginal odour and concern about vaginal infection, talk to our doctor for more information on testing and treatment needed to help your symptom