“If you are worried about the odour of your vulva and vagina, and/or have other symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation, soreness, painful sex or painful… ”.1

Umbrella
What may the Vagina Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Vagina
  • Vulvovaginal
  • “Down Below/There”
  • “Lady Parts”
  • “Private Parts”
  • “Privates”
  • “Things That Go Wrong Down There”
  • “Women’s Bits”

Terminology

Can vagina mean different things to different people?

I think the term vagina can be like the terms labia, sex and vulva and mean different things, to different people, at different times, in different places.

When I use the term vagina what I mean may be different to what someone else means “down there” or what is meant in medicaltalk.

It can therefore be important when the term vagina is used to be clear about what is meant, so we may work out whether we are on the same page meaning the same thing or not.

Definition

What is the vagina?

DotS the definition of the vagina may vary. The (United States) MedlinePlus’ definition is:

“The vagina is the female body part that connects the womb (uterus) and cervix to the outside of the body”.2

In Vagina: Information the MedlinePlus also explain:

“The vagina is a muscular tube lined with mucous membranes. Its opening is between the urethra (where urine leaves the body) and the anus. Menstrual blood leaves the body through the vagina. The vagina also allows for sexual intercourse, and it is the passageway a baby goes through when it is born”.3

Vaginitis

What is vaginitis?

DotS the definition of vaginitis may vary. MedlinePlus’ definition is:

“Inflammation of the vagina is known as vaginitis”.4

Menopause

What vaginal symptoms can menopause cause?

In Symptoms of Menopause: Bladder, Vaginal & Vulval Problems the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) explain:

Vagina

“Low oestrogen causes changes to the vulval, vaginal and bladder tissues. This can result in the following symptoms:

  • Genital: dryness, burning and irritation
  • Sexual: lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, impaired function, or loss of elasticity
  • Urinary: urgency, pain (dysuria) and recurrent urinary tract infections
A woman may present with some or all of the signs and symptoms. Lower oestrogen levels can also influence the perception of touch, making you extra sensitive to touch, or even numb to touch at time”.5

In Vaginal Discomfort: Menopause-Related Discomfort the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) elaborate on:

“Less estrogen means less vaginal lubrication and a less stretchable vagina. The vagina also may shorten and become tighter at the opening. In some women this can lead to a feeling of vaginal tightness during sex along with pain, burning, or soreness. Inflammation and irritation can also develop (atrophic vaginitis), leading to greater discomfort and sometimes to tearing and bleeding of tissue with any penetration of the vagina”.6

Not Menopause

What types of vaginal discomfort are not directly related to menopause?

In Vaginal Discomfort: Discomfort Not Directly Related to Menopause the NAMS elaborate on:

“Other types of vaginal discomfort are not directly related to menopause but can and do occur in peri- and postmenopausal women, making sex painful or difficult:

  • Vaginitis…
  • Vaginismus…
  • Urinary Tract Infections…”.7

The NAMS also note:

“Because vaginal discomfort can arise from so many different sources, persistent symptoms of dryness, irritation, burning, itchiness, or pain should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to determine their cause”.8

Odour

After menopause may vaginal odour change?

In Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour [+ Image] the JH elaborate on:

“After menopause, odour may change as the normal bacteria also changes. The odour will be different compared to when still having periods”.9

Vaginal Health

What can women do to keep their vagina healthy?

In Vagina: What’s Normal, What’s Not – What Can I Do To Keep My Vagina Healthy? the (United States) Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“You can take steps to protect your vaginal health and overall health. For example:

  • Be sexually responsible…
  • Get vaccinated…
  • Do Kegel exercises…
  • Know your medications…
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and don’t smoke…”.10

Health Care Provider

What if I am unsure about what is going on down there?

If you are unsure about what is going on down there, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

On page two in Vaginal Dryness: Treatment Options the NAMS explain:

“Note: Vaginal symptoms not related to menopause include yeast infections, allergic reactions, and certain skin conditions, so consult your health care provider if symptoms do not improve with treatment”.11

The JH also note:

“If you are worried about the odour of your vulva and vagina, and/or have other symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation, soreness, painful sex or painful urination, you should see your doctor”.12

The Mayo Clinic explain:

“Consult your doctor if you notice:

  • A change in the color, odor or amount of vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal redness or itching
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after menopause
  • A mass or bulge in your vagina
  • Pain during intercourse”.13

The Mayo Clinic also note:

“While not all vaginal problems can be prevented, regular checkups can help ensure that problems affecting your vagina are diagnosed as soon as possible. Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from talking to your doctor about any concerns you might have about your vaginal health”.14

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Vagina?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Vagina?

Your Country may have Links similar to:

Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 04 March 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 05 July 2020
  2. Vagina. Review Date: 16 September 2019. Page Last Updated: 02 June 2020. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002342.htm Accessed: 05 July 2020
  3. Vagina: Information. Review Date: 16 September 2019. Page Last Updated: 02 June 2020. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002342.htm Accessed: 05 July 2020
  4. Vagina: Information. Review Date: 16 September 2019. Page Last Updated: 02 June 2020. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002342.htm Accessed: 05 July 2020
  5. Symptoms of Menopause: Bladder, Vaginal & Vulval Problems. Last Updated: 04 March 2020 | Last Reviewed: 17 December 2017. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/menopause-symptoms Accessed: 05 July 2020
  6. Vaginal Discomfort: Menopause-Related Discomfort. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/vaginal-discomfort Accessed: 05 July 2020
  7. Vaginal Discomfort: Discomfort Not Directly Related To Menopause. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/vaginal-discomfort Accessed: 05 July 2020
  8. Vaginal Discomfort: Discomfort Not Directly Related To Menopause. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/vaginal-discomfort Accessed: 05 July 2020
  9. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 04 March 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 05 July 2020
  10. Vagina: What’s Normal, What’s Not – What Can I Do To Keep My Vagina Healthy? 11 February 2020. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/vagina/art-20046562 Accessed: 05 July 2020
  11. Vaginal Dryness: Treatment Options. 2018:2. North America Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/for-women/mn-vaginal-dryness.pdf Accessed: 05 July 2020
  12. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 04 March 2020 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 05 July 2020
  13. Vagina: What’s Normal, What’s Not – What Are Signs or Symptoms of Vaginal Problems? 11 February 2020. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/vagina/art-20046562 Accessed: 05 July 2020
  14. Vagina: What’s Normal, What’s Not – What Can I Do To Keep My Vagina Healthy? 11 February 2020. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/vagina/art-20046562 Accessed: 05 July 2020
Topic Last Updated: 05 July 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 05 July 2020
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