Is It a Yeast Infection, or Something Else?

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Although it’s probably not something you and your friends chat about during brunch, vaginal odour, itching and discomfort are incredibly common. Regardless, it’s always a little concerning the first time you have signs that something’s not right down below. It’s also pretty freaking uncomfortable! Even if you’ve had your fair share of vaginal infections already, it can be tough to self-diagnose exactly what’s going on with your lady parts, especially since there’s not always one easy answer. Allow us to help guide you through what’s happening with your body…

What could it be?

In order to stay healthy, the pH levels in your vagina need to be just right, creating a slightly acidic environment that snuffs out infection-causing bacteria, while allowing the good bacteria to thrive. Sometimes though, those pH levels can jump above the healthy 3.5 to 4.5 range, especially following sexual activity or your period. If you don’t get those numbers back on track, it can cause vaginal itching and odour and increase your risk of infection.

The most common vaginal infection is bacterial vaginosis (BV), which occurs when certain bad bacteria takes over in an alkaline vaginal environment. The second most common is a yeast infection, where there is an overgrowth of yeast. Almost half of all vaginal infections are classified as BV, while only 29 percent are yeast. They’re treated differently though, so it’s important to figure out what kind of infection you have, or if you even have one, before using medications.

What are the symptoms to look for?

A fishy odour is usually your first sign that your pH levels are off, and if it’s coupled with an excessive amount of gray/white discharge that has a yogurt-like consistency, you likely have bacterial vaginosis. It’s sometimes accompanied by vaginal itching and redness as well.

On the other hand, a yeast infection is always characterized by burning, redness, or swelling of the vagina, along with a “cottage-cheese” like discharge. There is usually no odour, although you may pick up on a yeasty smell.

It’s also important to note that if your odour is not fishy and you don’t have any uncomfortable symptoms (discharge, itch or irritations), your vaginal odour is most likely normal. All women have some natural vaginal odour. This scent will vary by person and may be described as sweet or musky. These scents are normal and can vary depending on diet, exercise and hormone fluctuations. There is no need to take any action to remove or cover up these normal odours.

How should you treat it?

As soon as you smell that tell-tale fishy odour or experience discomfort, you’ll want to get your vaginal pH back in balance. RepHresh™ Vaginal Deodorant Gel is clinically shown as PH-balanced for vaginal use.
For yeast infections, an over-the-counter medication should do the trick. If the odour and irritation persists though for more than several days, whether it’s BV or yeast, you’ll want to check in with your doctor. Often, they’ll prescribe an antibiotic which will definitely treat your current condition. That being said, if the pH imbalances persist, irritation and infection can come back. Which brings us to our next point…

How do I keep my vagina healthy?

Just like your gut, your vagina needs good bacteria to keep things running smoothly. Taking an oral probiotic for vaginal health, like RepHresh™ Pro-B™ Probiotic Supplement, daily can help maintain feminine health. RepHresh™ Pro-B™ contains patented live probiotic strains that maintain the healthy bacteria in your vagina.

In addition, you’ll want to make some lifestyle changes. First of all, skip the soap when washing your lady parts, and stick to just warm water. Try not to spend too much time in tight leggings or yoga pants either, and go commando when you sleep. You may also want to keep a journal, monitoring your cycle, your habits, and your sexual activity, and see how that correlates with vaginal odour or discomfort.

Finally, be sure you have a gynecologist that you trust and with whom you can have open, honest dialogue. Although it’s tough to talk about these kinds of personal vaginal problems, your doctor has seen it all, heard it all, and will not judge you. Tell him or her the truth, be sure to ask any questions you have (write them down if you have to), and definitely make an appointment if you have any ongoing concerns about your vaginal health.

Photo: Getty