Odor… it happens. And I’m not just talking about underarms.
As women, we’ve been told a tired narrative that “vaginal odor” is an inevitable reality. It’s not.
We also have an industry of products currently on the market that mislead women into believing that all vaginas have a foul odor.
As a gynecologist, seeing patients in the office who voiced concerns about “vaginal odor” is common. It comes up even if that is not the reason for the visit.
Women who have been told they have had Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) in the past become concerned when they notice that off or fishy odor again.
Even the most subtle odors can be concerning for women.
What I began to realize is that the lab tests often did not conclusively support a diagnosis of BV, yet women had been told they have it and were then sent home with an antibiotic (they may not have needed).
Not such a big deal, but that odor likely will return again, and then what?
How does this happen?
Doctors use Amsel’s Criteria to diagnose bacterial vaginosis in the office. It is composed of 4 criteria, and 3 of the 4 must be present in order to make the “diagnosis.”
The bottom line is, BV is an imperfect diagnosis. It is very subjective, and far too often it’s based on a hunch the physician may have.
For instance, if a physician detects a fishy odor during the examination, the assumption is BV right off the bat.
Another criteria physicians use to diagnose BV is a vaginal pH greater than 4.5. This could indicate BV and other infectious conditions, but the pH can also increase after recent intercourse. How recent? As far out as 3 days.
Not only that, menstrual blood increases the vaginal pH.
Pregnancy, ovulation, and normal post-menopausal discharge all can register a pH greater than 4.5…
As you can see, many normal activities and part of being a woman can cause a pH greater than 4.5 – not just when something’s wrong.
And often, the patient goes home with an antibiotic and the insecurity of feeling like she has something wrong with her.
This is very consistent with what I observed in my own practice.
I questioned the imperfect doctor’s office diagnosis of BV. I wondered if this common fishy odor women experience from time to time could more commonly be external (resulting from day-to-day life!) and less often vaginal (bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis).
My theory goes against the very tired and imperfect industry-provided explanations women have been offered for 75 years! This is a very disruptive discovery!
The vagina is inaccurately blamed for odor over 70% of the time.
This is when it got really exciting!
I proved in an outside lab that the odor molecule that forms with BV (trimethylamine) is the exact same odor molecule that forms on the outside of our bodies.
That means everyday external odor from intercourse or with our periods or menopause is indistinguishable from the odor that occurs with bacterial vaginosis!
An external odor should be treated with an external remedy. And it should be one that women can use on their own at home.
This is exactly why I developed Lume.
This discovery empowers women to effectively address odor concerns at home and oftentimes saves them a visit to their gynecologist.
So, if you have concerns about odor, there’s a good chance it’s external and could be resolved at home by using Lume.
If after using Lume a few days, you still notice odor, then you need to be evaluated by your physician to rule out something more significant going on.
*Disclaimer: Lume is not intended to diagnose or treat conditions of the vulva or vagina.