• Vaginal Discharge
  • Pink Discharge
  • Clear Discharge
  • Green Discharge
  • Brown Discharge

Foul-smelling vaginal discharge and itching and how to solve these problems

Pink discharge and foul odor

What do foul-smelling vaginal discharge and itching in women mean? When is a vaginal discharge a sign of disease? How can one know the true cause of vaginal discharge? When is it necessary to see a doctor concerning a vaginal discharge?

Contents of the article

  1. Important initial remarks
  2. Vaginal bleeding
  3. What is normal vaginal discharge?
  4. When should vaginal discharge be considered as a sign of disease?
  5. When is it necessary to immediately seek medical attention?
  6. Treatment of vaginal discharge

Important initial remarks

Women most often associate vaginal itching and discharge with infections or poor hygiene.

Vaginal itching and discharge are actually the main and sometimes the only symptom of sexually transmitted infections. However, it is wrong to assume that all cases of vaginal discharge are a sign of infection.

Apart from infections, there are many other potential causes of foul-smelling vaginal discharge or itching. Moreover, some cases of vaginal discharge which are of worry to women due to their color, quantity or odor, can be completely normal and not require any treatment.

Vaginal bleeding

The causes of brown or almost black vaginal bleeding and what to do when you such a discharge occurs are detailed in the article “Brown or black (bloody) vaginal discharge. What are the causes and what can be done?.

What is normal vaginal discharge?

A foul smelling vaginal discharge is not necessarily a sign of infection or some other disease.

As clinical data show, most healthy women have more or less profuse vaginal discharge, which is not a sign of a disease, but just physiological (normal) in nature and therefore do not require any treatment.

A vaginal discharge should be considered as normal and not requiring any treatment if:

the woman has been having the discharge for a long time and at the same time not experiencing any discomfort (no itching, pain, irritation, or inflammation of the genitals);

there is a periodic and predictable increase and decrease in the volume of discharge, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle;

the discharge is transparent, white or yellow in color;

the discharge has no sharp unpleasant (or at least an unusual) smell;

there is no pain during sex;

the discharge intensifies during physical activity or during and after sex.

Physiologic vaginal discharge can sometimes be almost absent, and sometimes be profuse. Increase in the amount of normal discharge occurs:

in the middle of the menstrual cycle a few days before ovulation

during pregnancy

when taking certain estrogen-containing medications

during intense physical activity (heavy physical labor or sports)

during sexual arousal

before and after sex

The odor of normal vaginal discharge can be quite unpleasant and may vary during the menstrual cycle and depending on the conditions of the woman’s life and personal hygiene.

Every woman normally knows the usual smell of her discharge.

Only a sudden change in the smell of the discharge should be considered as a possible sign of disease.

When should vaginal discharge be considered as a sign of disease?

Vaginal discharge with a foul odor and unusual color, which is accompanied by itching, pain and irritation in the genital area is likely a sign of disease.

It is almost impossible to establish the cause of such vaginal discharge based only on its appearance, smell and other characteristics. Therefore, you should always consult a doctor whenever you feel that you have an “abnormal” discharge.

When is it necessary to immediately seek medical attention?

You should immediately seek medical attention if:

  1. a greenish, yellowish, purulent or cheesy discharge suddenly appears and lasts for more than 5-7 days;
  2. a very unpleasant smell from the vagina suddenly appears and and persists despite hygienic measures taken;
  3. the discharge is accompanied by severe itching, redness and swelling of the vulvar lips (labia majora and labia minora);
  4. you suspect you have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease (for example, if you had unprotected sex a few weeks or days before the discharge with a man who could be a carrier of infection).

Very important! Why is it necessary to consult a doctor?

There is a wide variety of infections that can manifest only in the form of vaginal itching and discharge. Some of these infections can lead to serious consequences (for example, infertility) and therefore require adequate treatment.

Any infection that can trigger vaginal itching and discharge requires special treatment. Therefore, a drug for one particular infection may be quite ineffective in treating another infection.

Based on the appearance or description of vaginal discharge alone, there is no way one can determine the exact cause of the discharge and the appropriate treatment. Engaging in self-treatment at home is therefore completely wrong and even dangerous.

Only a gynecologist can establish the exact cause of vaginal discharge and prescribe the right treatment only after conducting several tests.

Treatment of vaginal discharge

The cause and not the discharge itself should be treated because the tactics of treating vaginal discharge depends on the cause, which is established during examination. If no bacteriological smear, PCR analysis, or pelvic examination could reveal any disease, then this is most likely a physiologic discharge and does not require treatment.