ZocdocAnswersThere's a bad odor discharge from vagina - what disease could I possibly have?

Question

There's a bad odor discharge from vagina - what disease could I possibly have?

A few months ago I've notice that my discharge was starting to smell and I've been having horrible sharp pains in my abdominal area. Lately, i still have very bad smelly discharge but no stomach pain. It wasnt until my sister said something about its not wise to leave a tampon in longer than 4-8 hours and it made me realise that a few months ago was the last time i really used tampons and everytime i used one id leave it in for perhaps a day per tampon. Can someone ease tell me what i may have anf if its because of the tampons??!

Answer

There are several infections that can cause malodorous vaginal discharge (and often redness, itching or irritation), so it is important to discuss your concern with your doctor. The most classic is a condition called bacterial vaginosis (also called BV), which causes a whitish, 'fishy' smelling discharge. Other infectious causes include a yeast infection (often caused by candida), which will have a thick 'cottage cheese'-like discharge, or trichomonas, which is a sexually transmitted infection. A foreign body that is stuck in the vagina (such as an old condom or tampon) can cause a very foul odor, though often that odor will go away when the item is removed; your sister is right that you should not leave tampons in for longer than 4-8 hours because there is a risk of a serious infection, but if the tampon has been removed it is less likely to be causing your current symptoms. Other infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), can cause pain and a foul odor; these infections are generally caused by STIs but can also be caused by the bacteria that live in your vagina and colon. I would strongly recommend that you go see your doctor and discuss your concerns. They can get a full history from you and can do a pelvic exam as well as take a look at your vaginal discharge under the microscope to see whether you have any of the infections I described above, all of which would require treatment to avoid any further symptoms or complications.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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