Yeast infections, often, may have absolutely no smell at all. If you have a more severe infection, you may also have a "cottage cheese" like discharge from the vagina. This whitish ooze, is simply yeast; and, it can smell like fermenting yeast—as you would also smell in fermenting beer or bread. Yeast, if it has a smell, will smell like the yeast you buy from the store to leaven bread; or, it could smell like beer to some extent. But, if you are noticing a vaginal fishy smell, this is highly indicative of bacterial vaginosis (BV). And, BV is the most common of all vaginal infections! Yeast infections will not cause a fishy vaginal odor.
Yeast infections and BV can occur at the same time. So, if you seem to have all the classic signs of a yeast infections, and you also have a foul, or fishy, vaginal odor; this can mean you’ve got two forms of vaginitis. Also, trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted disease (STD), can also cause a foul vaginal odor. So, if you have had some risky sexual activity lately, your bad vaginal odor could be due to this STD.
To help better understand what your symptoms mean, the following research will discuss the various symptoms of common forms of vaginitis. But, if you have a cottage cheese like vaginal discharge, and you have no vaginal odor—or a slight “yeast” smell from the vagina—you may just have a yeast infection.
Vaginal Odor Research
One study, discussed the various symptoms of common causes of vaginitis; one of which was Candida. The study was published in the journal American Family Physician [83.7 (2011): 807-815]. As far as the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections go, the study cited thick, white vaginal discharge; burning; pain during urination; pain during sexual intercourse; frequent itchiness; and, a lack of vaginal odor as indicators of a yeast infection. Vaginitis that carries an odor, was caused by trichomoniasis and BV. Both trichomoniasis and BV would cause a “fishy” smelling vagina. Also, BV will often present with a homogenous, thin vaginal discharge. Thus we see most yeast infections will have no smell. The following chart was taken from the study, and relates the primary symptoms of common vaginal infections.
Another study, that discussed the most prevalent vaginal infections and the odor they cause, was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada [37.3 (2015): 266-274]. The study stated, that women with just vaginal Candidiasis, would have a negative “whiff test;” which is checking for a classic “fishy” smell. The study stated BV will cause there to be a fish smell from the vaginal fluid. As far as trichomoniasis goes, common symptoms include an increase in vaginal discharge that can be yellow, green, and frothy in appearance; and, there can also be a foul odor. Thus, women with vaginal yeast infections usually do not have any smell associated with them. A fishy smell means you probably have BV.
Another study, also related that vaginal Candidiasis often has no odor associated with it. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine [355.12 (2006): 1244-1252]. The study stated, that vaginal yeast infections are associated with a cottage cheese like discharge, and are without the presence of a smell. BV is associated with a white or grey, thin, fishy smelling discharge. And, trichomoniasis is associated with a heavy, yellow discharge that can have a foul smell.
A final study, that talked about yeast infection smell, was published in the journal American Family Physician [70.11 (2004): 2125-32]. The study stated that a negative “whiff test,” that checks for the presence of a fishy smell, is one way to help diagnose infections. Again, the two other vaginal infections the study stated can cause an odor, included BV and trichomoniasis. The symptoms of trichomoniasis included a foul smelling, frothy vaginal discharge and irritation of the vagina. For BV, the study listed the symptoms as a homogeneous, milky discharge that sticks to the vaginal wall, and a foul fishy smell from the discharge.
Yeasty, Bread-Like, and Beer-Like Odor
A book entitled Yeast Infections, Trichomoniasis, and Toxic Shock Syndrome, by Michael Sommers, also discusses the smell a yeast infection can produce. Many women have a vaginal odor that is present before their period and then dissipates during menstruation. This odor can change based on several factors: hormone levels, personal hygiene, use of birth control pills, and the levels of bacteria in the vagina. Sommers does relate, that a very strong, or fishy, vaginal odor is a sign of infection.
Concerning the smell a yeast infection can cause, Sommers states that this infection can cause a smell. According to Sommers, the discharge a yeast infection produces will be white or white gray in color. This discharge smells like the yeast of beer or freshly baked bread. The discharge will also be thick or clumpy in consistency; and can resemble cottage cheese. Consequently, as this book states, it appears a "yeasty" odor, similar to beer and bread, appears to be the key smell Candidiasis of the vagina will produce.
According to the The V Book, yeast infections can cause a smell to occur. The authors relate, that a yeast infection can produce a bad smelling discharge. The odor of this discharge can be "yeasty," or sour smelling. Concerning BV, the book states, that a yeast infection can happen along with BV; and, this concomitant infection can produce an odor as well. It can be assumed that a sour or putrid odor, when thick discharge is present, is due to the simultaneous presence of these two, very common, vaginal infections.
This book also relates that vaginal odor can be an embarrassing condition. Many women, at one time or another, are concerned about an unpleasant odor from their vaginal secretions. One of the author’s appears to have encountered this in their practice. It so happened that patients would be reluctant to admit their problem with vaginal odor; as, they assumed it was related to poor personal hygiene. However, the book goes on to say that: "Inadequate washing is almost never the cause of a V [vaginal] scent. Remember that some scent is to be expected from all activity of the Vs [vaginas]." This, of course, is very true. Excessive washing of the vagina can disrupt the normal bacterial life (Lactobacilli) of this area; and, even cause more bad smelling odor, as a result.
An interesting comment, on the smell of Candida, was made by a study published in the Australian Dental Journal [1998; 43:(1):45-50]. The research paper stated that Candida species colonies, when grown, have a yeasty smell to them. This yeasty smell required the Candida to be grown in aerobic (with oxygen) conditions, in a medium that has a pH between 2.5 and 7.5, and in a temperature range of 20° to 38°C. Concerning what can be inferred from this research, the smell of a yeast infection may differ based on its growing environment. As conditions in the gut will be anaerobic (without oxygen), yeast from the gut may not have any odor. However, Candida growing in the vagina or on the skin, can have access to oxygen, and create a yeasty smell.
Another comment of interest, was made by a study published in Mycopathologia [149.1 (2000): 1-4]. The study dealt with Candidiasis of the esophagus; and, cultured Candida species from these patients. Samples from these individuals, with this esophageal infection, were grown in agar (a medium for microorganisms to grow on). The yeast grown on this medium was said to have a characteristic yeast odor. Concerning the type of yeast grown on the agar (and produced the odor), the study seems somewhat ambiguous about this; likely due to a disorganized presentation of the study (many studies have imperfections like this). However, it does appear, that the composition of the yeasts giving the odor, might be: C. albicans (87.5%), C. tropicalis (8.5%), and other unidentified species (4.0%).
From these books, the studies, and the metabolism of Candida; we can clearly see that Candida can produce an odor like other yeasts. Candida, since it is a yeast, operates in a similar way to the yeast used to make beer and bread. Candida, for instance, metabolizes carbohydrates into alcohol. Also, Candida produces CO2 in its metabolic processes as well. Consequently, when enough Candida is present (possibly always inducing a discharge due to the vast amount), the area of infection (or discharge) will have a yeasty odor resembling that of bread and/or beer. Again, you will want to remember that a foul, fishy, cheesy, or putrid odor is going to be caused by a different infection; often, of course, this infection will just be BV.
Bacterial Vaginosis: A Common Female Problem
If you smell a “fishy” odor, and you do not see any white discharge or white patches of yeast in the vaginal canal, you probably have the most common type of vaginal infection: BV. BV is a condition that occurs when undesirable bacteria proliferate and dominate the vaginal microbiota. The most noticeable symptom of BV is an unpleasant odor. This odor will smell very “fishy,” and be much stronger than normal odor associated with the vagina.
You can have both a yeast infection and BV at the same time. If you have all the symptoms of a yeast infection; and, you also smell a foul fishy odor emanating from the vagina or from vaginal discharge, you could have both types of infection. The yeast infection is due to a species of yeast in the genus Candida. The BV smell, is coming probably from the most common bacterial culprit: Gardnerella vaginallis.
Gardnerella vaginallis gets its genus name from the researcher, Gardner, who originally discovered this bacteria in 1955. Gardner published an interesting study on the subject. Gardner’s paper was published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [May 1955, Volume 69, Issue 5, Pages 962–976]. The study found that about 92% of 138 cases of BV were due to a specific strain of bacteria Gardner called “Haemophilus vaginalis.” Haemophilus vaginalis, later came to be known as Gardnerella vaginalis. Thus, if you have a bad fishy smell coming from your vagina, you probably have this bacteria Gardner discovered overgrowing down there.
Candida Hub has a whole article dedicated to helping women determine if they have BV or a yeast infection. If you’d like to learn a bit more about these two female ailments, you can check out this article: Yeast Infection or Bacterial Vaginosis
Trichomoniasis Infections Versus Candida Infections
Candida and BV aside, you may actually have a common STD known as Trichomoniasis; this disease can produce a malodorous smell. Trichomoniasis is caused by the protozoa Trichomonas vaginalis. Often, Trichomoniasis is asymptomatic; meaning many women and men who are infected show no symptoms. But, in those cases where symptoms are present, about half of the women who report symptoms have a foul vaginal odor. Also, about half of women who are symptomatic will also see a vaginal discharge of varying color. In a few cases, about 10%, this vaginal discharge will appear frothy. To learn more about this STD and how it compares to yeast infections, check out: Trichomoniasis or Yeast Infection.
At Home Self Diagnosis Help
It is not unusual for a woman, who is not familiar with yeast infections, to misdiagnose her condition as a yeast infection. If you came to this site because there is a strong “fishy” odor down there, and you are wondering if you have a yeast infection, the answer is “probably not” if that is your only symptom. However, there is a great way to tell if you have Candida affecting your body; maybe you don’t have a vaginal yeast infection, but you always seem to be sick and “tired all over.” If this is the case, you may have yeast overgrowing in your digestive system.
If you’d like to get a excellent evaluation of your potential for having a vaginal or systemic yeast problem, Candida Hub provides two different tests all based closely on the tests developed by the medical pioneer, the late Dr. William Crook. Dr. Crook had extensive experience treating both men and women who suffered from some form of Candidiasis. Often, their problem went far beyond just a simple vaginal or penile yeast infection. These individual’s whole health and life was being negatively influenced by yeast. You can check out the quick, or comprehensive tests, and get a better understanding of your condition here: two yeast infection tests.
Taking antibiotics, as the yeast infection test questions suggest, greatly raise your risk of developing a yeast infection. If you have tried prescription antibiotic drugs to treat BV, and you now have a yeast infection, these antibiotics likely helped trigger your current Candida problem. It is a well known scientific fact, that antibiotics are a primary culprit of instigating a problem with Candida yeast.
12 Hour Natural Cure for Yeast Infections
If you are looking for a powerful, all-natural, and safe treatment for even the most severe Candida problems, you may want to know about Sarah Summer. Summer herself suffered from a severe vaginal yeast infection that her doctor said was simply untreatable. The yeast had formed a thick biofilm in her vagina and also sent tendrils into the vaginal tissue to establish itself. The yeast actually formed a mold in her vagina.
Summer found that regular treatments for Candidiasis only dealt with the symptoms of her problem; never really getting to the root causes that predisposed her to infection. Once she dealt with the root causes of her vaginal yeast infection, she found that she was able to finally get rid of it and keep it gone for good. Her natural solution for vaginal Candidiasis worked so well, the people who tried it got rid of their infection in about 12 hours. And, as many of you may know, the important part was the yeast infection stayed gone—no evil recurrence ever again!
Sarah Summer published her book via a branch of the U.S. based company Keynetics Incorporated. She also wants to assure those who may feel unsure about the investment and offers an 8 week, 100% money back guarantee. If for any reason you feel that the book is not worth your investment, she will refund all your money. And, it is a digital downloadable book in PDF format and you can keep it even after you get your refund.
If this sounds like something you’d like to know more about, you can visit Sarah Summer’s website and learn about her story and read testimonies from others who have successfully applied her revolutionary techniques. She also can be contacted via email at the bottom of her website; she always is a great resource for my questions!
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- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21524046 — Hainer, Barry L., and Maria V. Gibson. "Vaginitis: diagnosis and treatment." Am Fam Physician 83.7 (2011): 807-815. Full Text Available Here
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1701-2163(15)30316-9 — van Schalkwyk, Julie, et al. "Vulvovaginitis: Screening for and Management of Trichomoniasis, Vulvovaginal Candidiasis, and Bacterial Vaginosis." Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 37.3 (2015): 266-274. PDF Available Here, PubMed
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMcp053720 — Eckert, Linda O. "Acute vulvovaginitis." New England Journal of Medicine 355.12 (2006): 1244-1252. PubMed
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15606061 — Owen, Marion K., and TIMOTHY L. Clenney. "Management of vaginitis." Am Fam Physician 70.11 (2004): 2125-32. Full Text Available Here
- Google Books — Sommers, Michael A.. Yeast Infections, Trichomoniasis, and Toxic Shock Syndrome. The Rosen Publishing Group , ISBN: 140421951X, 9781404219519
- Google Books — Stewart, Elizabeth G.; Spencer, Paula, M.D.. The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health. Random House Publishing Group , ISBN: 0307492443, 9780307492449
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- https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1007245919761 — Badarinarayanan, G., R. Gowrisankar, and K. Muthulakshmi. "Esophageal candidiasis in non-immune suppressed patients in a semi-urban town, southern India." Mycopathologia [149.1 (2000): 1-4]. PubMed
- http://www.ajog.org/article/0002-9378(55)90095-8/abstract — Gardner, Herman L., and Charles D. Dukes. "Haemophilus vaginalis vaginitis." American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 69.5 (1955): 962-976.
- http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v6i1.54 — Diagnosis of vaginal infection in pregnancy. Health SA Gesondheid; Vol 6, No 1 (2001), 12-20
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/CMR.17.4.794-803.2004 — Trichomoniasis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews (2004 Oct; 17(4): 794–803).