Good news – ESSENCE’s “Ask An OB-GYN” series is back to bring you very public answers to some of your most private questions. When sexual and vaginal health concerns arise, renowned Obstetrics and Gynecology physician Dr. Tosha Rogers wants to ensure you have the answers you need to feel at ease. If you have a sexual health concern or question you want to swing her way, we’ve got you covered.  Email relationships@essence.comwith “Ask An OB-GYN” in the subject line and ask away!

Q: I’m having persistent and unusual smells down there? What could be the cause?

A: When it comes to vaginal odor, it can be very tricky getting to the root of the problem. Let’s face it – some docs are so busy or overbooked, they just miss the mark. So anything persistent tends not to be a good thing. Schedule an appointment to be seen. But before you do that, STOP self-diagnosing. Please know that nothing over the counter can properly treat a vaginal infection. I don’t care what the commercial says. They are LIES.

As far as determining the cause of the odor, it’s important to visit the gynecologist. Ask for a copy of your test results and inquire about what you’ve been already been tested for. If your concern is Bacterial Vaginosis (a vaginal inflammation that commonly causes a fishy odor and irritation), ask what organisms you’ve been tested for. There are six major organisms that can cause BV, but many doctors only check for one or two. Also, one of the infections that I check my patients for is a cervical infection called Ureaplasma. It’s a common find that’s rarely tested for, and it does carry an odor. Be informed and take a proactive stance with your doctor.

When your testing has come back negative for cervicitis, vaginitis and STDs, but there’s still an odor, I begin to think of other possibilities that could be the root cause such as:

  • Diet
  • infection of the womb (endometritis),
  • necrotic fibroids or even cancer

This is why self- diagnosis, Dr. Google and the Summer’s Eve cover-up can lead to even more problems. Everything isn’t always what it seems.

Take away: You can get frustrated with your provider, but don’t get frustrated with the process. Get answers. Get resolution or get a new provider. You know your body, and if you think there’s a problem, then likely it is.

Dr. Tosha Rogers


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