If you're noticing a particularly fecal smell emanating from your vagina, you've every right to be concerned. This is certainly not a normal or desirable aroma to be experiencing. But the question "Why does my vagina smell like poop?" isn't something you just want to ask your BFF while you chat over mimosas and french toast at brunch.
While many vaginal smells are easily explained away, a fecal smell from your vagina is not only embarrassing, but also more worrisome. A strong fecal aroma around your vagina might be something as simple as a hygiene issue or gas. However, it can sometimes be the result of an infection in or around the vagina, or something anatomical like a rectovaginal fistula, according to the Mayo Clinic.
No one wants to think their downtown smells foul, but it does happen. If you find yourself wondering why your vagina smells like poop, you probably want some possible answers before heading into your OB-GYN. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.
The information on the internet about this particular subject will lead you to a dark place. Tons of message boards and really bad advice will lead you to many remedies that of course include essential oils, crystal healing, and various other accoutrements that Gwyneth Paltrow thinks you should hold in your vagina while steaming your butthole and eating mushroom powder. In a word: don't. Your vagina is a precious thing that can serve as an escape route for babies and give you orgasms; don't mess with the magic — talk to an expert.
Therefore, I decided to enlist the help of a Nurse Practitioner and lecturer, Dr. Tara Carpacci of New York City, to determine the real causes behind the odor. She tells Romper that this is not a normal smell, but also not uncommon, especially after giving birth. "Sometimes, there's some damage done to the anus or the muscles in the region that might cause some leakage and make you think that the smell is coming from your vagina because gravity pulls it that direction every time you stand." She says if you notice any discharge at all around your rectum, this is likely the case.
"There's also a chance that it's some sort of infection that's happening, or you might have forgotten a tampon and it's beginning to rot, which may smell vaguely like poop before it begins to putrefy in earnest." She notes that this is not as uncommon as you think, and moms especially are given to distraction and having this happen. "If you have twin 2-year-olds banging on the door while you're trying to change your tampon, as I did, it could easily happen. In fact, I'm surprised it hasn't happened to me yet." (Side note: it's also possible to forget you're wearing a diva cup and think you're just wearing a pad. Trust me.)
Unfortunately, a poop smell from your vagina is not always so simply solved. "There is something called a retrovaginal fistula, which is an opening that forms between the rectum and the vagina, that can cause your vagina to smell like feces. While it's rare, it does happen, and it has more implications to your health and wellbeing than smell. It also means you can get pregnant from anal sex," Carpacci says. She adds that this problem can only be fixed surgically, and healing is not a fun process.
"No matter what, this is not an issue you can self-diagnose or self-treat. You need to see your provider and get a full evaluation to determine what is causing the smell and how it can be remedied," says Carpacci. Yes, it sucks, and no matter whether or not I tell you not to be embarrassed, it will likely have no effect. The sooner you get it checked, the sooner you can get on with your life.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.