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I am having smelly discharge from my vagina. What could that be? Should I stop having sex with my boyfriend?

Smelly discharge from the vagina could be a symptom of:

  • a yeast infection
  • bacterial vaginosis  “BV”
  • trichomoniasis “trich”
  • chlamydia or gonorrhea

The good news is there are tests and treatments for all of these.  If you inform your doctor or nurse about what you are experiencing, they will be able to do a vaginal swab and perhaps offer a clinical exam.  The sample they collect is sent to a lab to determine the cause, but sometimes the clinician may be able to treat you even before the results are in.

Treatment may either be a 1 day or 1 week pill(s) for bacterial vaginosis, trich, chlamydia, or gonorrhea.  A yeast infection may be treated by a topical cream, an intravaginal ovule, or an oral medication.  You should notice an improvement in your symptoms fairly quickly after any of these treatments.

Yeast infections are a low risk to transmit to your sexual partner and are not considered an STI. Bacterial vaginosis is also not considered a sexually transmitted infection as it does not affect penises.  Trich, chlamydia or gonorrhea can transmit to a sexual partner.  So if those results are positive, he can get treated too, to prevent you passing it back and forth.  (This would also apply if your partner has a vagina.)

Lastly, while you are in the appointment, consider screening for other sexually transmitted infections.  There are many STIs that can be present without noticeable symptoms.  A full screen will give you the opportunity to treat anything that is detected and get on with your sex life.