Foul-Smelling Vaginal Discharge

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Seiji Kanazawa

Seiji Kanazawa, MD, PHD (Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN))

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  • Large amount of vaginal discharge with bad smell

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Content updated on Sep 6, 2022

About the symptom

Foul smelling vaginal discharge describes any unpleasant or unusual smell that comes from the vagina.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Intermenstrual bleeding

  • Increase in vaginal discharge

Possible causes

  • Bacterial vaginosis

    The human vagina in a healthy state contains several types of bacteria. When the balance of bacteria is disrupted, some types can overgrow and cause symptoms. Common triggers are vaginal washing, sexual intercourse, or use of an Intrauterine Device

  • Trichomoniasis

    Infection of the vagina by a parasite called Trichomonas. The disease is sexually transmitted, but does often not cause any symptoms in men.

  • Candida vulvovaginitis

    This is a fungal infection by Candida that affects the vaginal area. Candida normally exists on skin and vaginal linings with no issues. An infection occurs when the skin or vaginal lining changes in character such that it promotes an overgrowth of Candida. People with weakened immune systems or who are on birth control pills may be at increased risk.

  • Atrophic vaginitis
  • Threatened abortion
  • Vaginitis
  • Pyometra

Related serious diseases

  • Premature rupture of membranes

    Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) is a rupture of the membranes (amniotic sac) before labor begins, close to term. If membrane rupture occurs before 37 weeks' , it's called preterm PROM. PROM occurs in about 8% to 10% of all pregnancies. In most cases, the cause of PROM is unknown. Risk factors include infections of the uterus/ cervix/ vagina. or Increased amniotic fluid cauing too much stretching of the amniotic sac.

  • Threatened preterm labor

  • Chorioamnionitis

Questions your doctor may ask about this symptom

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom

  • Does the vaginal discharge smell worse recently?

  • Are you experiencing mental stress or physical exhaustion?

  • Have you had vaginal bleeding, brown or pink colored vaginal discharge outside of your periods? Or, after the menopause?

  • Have you experienced increased vaginal discharge recently?

  • Do you have a thick white vaginal discharge like cottage cheese or yogurt?

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Reviewed By:

Seiji Kanazawa

Seiji Kanazawa, MD, PHD (Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN))

From our team of 50+ doctors

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