What Conditions Cause Vaginal Odor?

Many women deal with it every day, but no one wants to talk about it. Vaginal odor can make you feel self-conscious and isolated, and most doctors, even gynecologists, don’t know how to treat it. Vaginal odor usually signals an underlying imbalance in the vaginal microflora that only a vulvovaginal specialist can diagnose and treat. 

What Symptoms Can You Have With Vaginal Odor?

If you have vaginal odor, you may also have one or several of these symptoms. All of them indicate an issue with the healthy balance of vaginal microorganisms. 

  • Discharge
  • Itching or burning
  • Pain or sensitivity around the vaginal opening
  • Inflammation

If your vaginal odor does not go away, you should seek out the advice of a specialist in vaginal microflora. The team at Fowler GYN International understands the complexities of this microflora and how to return it to a healthy state. 

What Conditions Cause Vaginal Odor?

Most vaginal odor comes from the overgrowth of problematic microorganisms. When the vaginal tissue is healthy, it maintains a population of lactobacilli, beneficial bacteria that maintain an acidic pH. Without enough lactobacilli, the pH changes, and other bacteria and yeasts can get out of control. Altered vaginal microflora (AVMF) underlies most cases of vaginal odor. The problem may involve a variety of microorganisms and triggering factors. 

How is Vaginal Odor Diagnosed?

Your vulvovaginal specialist will diagnose the cause of your vaginal odor by testing samples of your vaginal secretions. You may even be able to collect these secretions at home and mail them in for analysis. The testing looks for potential causes, including:

  • The number of mature squamous cells shed by the vaginal walls
  • Low numbers of healthy lactobacilli
  • Unusually high numbers of other bacteria
  • The presence of white blood cells that indicate a possible infection
  • High amounts of yeast that suggest an unbalanced vaginal pH

Beneficial lactobacilli feed on shed squamous cells. A lack of these cells can indicate low estrogen levels. Without food, the lactobacilli cannot do their job of keeping the vagina acidic and keeping other microflora in check. 

How is Vaginal Odor Treated?

After diagnosis, your vulvovaginal specialist will put you on a specialized treatment protocol to bring your vaginal microflora back to its normal state. Precise testing can allow your specialist to choose from dozens of different protocols, each targeting a different type of altered vaginal microflora. 

Why Did My Doctor Not Diagnose My Vaginal Odor?

Most doctors do not have the knowledge, experience, or specialized testing equipment needed to diagnose the causes of vaginal odor. With their limited tests, all your results may look normal. A vulvovaginal specialist has the ability to diagnose and treat your condition. 

Take the Next Step

The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ, can diagnose and treat all types of vaginal odor. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.

You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.

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