My vulva seems to smell a bit at the end of the day – do I still have BV?

Hi Aunt Vadge! 

I just finished reading your Killing BV e-book and had a couple questions regarding my scenario.

The beginning of this summer my boyfriend told me my vagina had been smelling weird. I never paid attention to the odor, thinking it was normal, but I realized I was having discharge as well.

I made an appointment with my gynecologist and she immediately diagnosed me with BV and gave me a week’s dose of [antibiotic] flagyl.

A week later, I smelt the odor again and went back. She did a culture that tested positive for Gardnerella and she prescribed me [antibiotic] Cleocin (or however you spell it).

I immediately noticed the smell was gone and I was washing with a washcloth and little bit of Dove soap on the outer part of my vagina, and that seemed to do the trick.

I now have become a hypochondriac and keep smelling down there. I do smell an odor, but I have no idea if that’s normal or not.

It’s not very foul or very fishy, but there’s an odor at the end of the day. I have no discharge or itch, and internally there appears to be no odor.

This has been ruining my life and I feel like my gyn keeps prescribing me products because she does not know what to tell me. She did an internal exam on me today and said my discharge looked normal and she did not see any signs of BV.

Do you think this vaginal odor is just my odor or is it BV related?

If you could help in any way that would be much appreciated.

Thank you so much!



Dear Concerned,

Thanks so much for your email. I completely understand your concern – your own smell is not something we tend to understand very well. It can be hard to know what is normal and what is not.

It sounds like, if it’s not fishy or foul, that you may be experiencing normal vaginal odour. Any genital gets a little bit whiffy after a day in life, which is normal. Sweat smells. A greasy crotch isn’t going to smell that great after each day!

In saying that, your vagina may have retained some microbial imbalance after A) having untreated BV for a while, and B) taking antibiotics and not replacing the good bacteria.

You mention that it doesn’t smell inside your vagina at all, which would be the expectation from a healthy vagina.

Vaginas (the inside) should not really smell like anything much, but have an element ‘of the sea’.

If it smells even a little bit bad, you have a bacteria problem – maybe not super serious, but an imbalance nonetheless. You are the best judge of this. If you can have a shower, and with a clean unperfumed (by shower gel, soap, moisturiser) do the finger test and it come out smelling clear, you’re cured! Congratulations.

If the smell develops over the day and is worse at night before a shower and is only in the folds of your vulva, it may very well just be normal. Caring for your hygiene should take care of it.

Write again if you’re concerned!

Aunt Vadge

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