Vaginal odor. Yep, we said it. We’re going to talk about how vaginal odor can be caused by complications associated with diabetes.
We know that our bodies are bacteria breeding grounds. Most of this bacteria is good and helps our bodies run correctly. For example, we take probiotics to help keep the levels of healthy bacteria up. Your vagina’s pH level is mostly determined by type and amount of bacteria inside.
The vagina is home to countless numbers of bacteria which coexist in perfect harmony, most of the time. Sometimes, however, bad bacteria takes over, creating imbalance. When this happens, you usually start experiencing unpleasant symptoms, and one of those is odor.
Some of us are more at-risk of infection than others. For instance, if you’re a diabetic, you’re at higher risk of developing yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
As such, you should know the signs and symptoms of these conditions. You should also know what you can do if you develop one of them, and how you can prevent them.
That’s where we’ve got your back! We’ve got all the info you need to know about managing “down there” odor and helping keep your vagina health in check, even if you’re prone to infections because of diabetes. First, let’s talk about these infections and what causes them.
Yeast or BV: What’s the Difference?
Both yeast infections and BV are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria inside your vagina, but the bacteria responsible for the overgrowth are different, which makes each condition a bit different. Here’s how to determine which is which.
Simply put, a yeast infection is an overgrowth of yeast inside your vagina. Yeast is always present in the vagina in small amounts, but sometimes conditions inside your vajay promote the overgrowth of yeast. That overgrowth is what causes an infection.
If you have a yeast infection, you’ll have some very uncomfortable symptoms.
– Burning and itching. You’ll experience burning and itching both inside your vagina and on and around your vulva (the outer area of your vagina, including your clitoris). This can be mild to severe, depending on how bad your infection has become.
– Discharge. Possibly the yeast infection’s most recognizable symptom is a thick, white, chunky discharge often compared to the consistency and color of cottage cheese. Yeast infection discharge can also be thin and watery, but white and chunky is the most common.
– Redness, pain, and swelling. Yeast infections can cause your labia to swell and become irritated and red. You may also experience pain during sex, urination, or when you’re wiping.
– Mild Odor. Most of the time, a yeast infection won’t leave you wondering why your nether regions smell like seafood. If you do experience an odor related to a yeast infection, it will likely be very mild.
Yeast infections can be caused by certain medications, high blood sugar (we’ll talk more about this later), and even sitting in damp gym clothes for too long.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bv is also caused by bacterial overgrowth, but from a different bacteria. This bacteria isn’t quite as lowkey as yeast.
Symptoms of BV include:
– Vaginal itching. This can occur inside the vagina and on the vulva and can be moderate to severe.
– Multi-colored discharge. Grey, green, yellow; BV discharge is colorful and can change from one color to another and back again.
– Burning sensations. You may have burning along with itching that you experience more when you’re peeing. Because it’s common to experience burning while peeing when you have BV, you can sometimes confuse BV with a urinary tract infection.
– Foul odor. No joke — it’s strong. The bacterial overgrowth from BV smells fishy, and is especially prevalent after sex and while having your period. This scent is a totally normal side-effect of BV, and does not mean your lady parts are dirty or that you just have body odor. We promise!
BV is often triggered by a change in your vagina’s pH balance. A change in the pH level can be caused by sex, your period, pregnancy, menopause, or douching.
Why Are Diabetics More at Risk For Vaginal Odor Or Infections?
If you’re diabetic, you’re at higher risk for developing both BV and yeast infections. As a diabetic, you already know how important it is to maintain your healthy blood sugar level, but you may not know that your blood sugar levels also affect your vaginal health.
There are several reasons this happens.
– Sugar feeds yeast. If you ever baked homemade bread with your grandma, you know that you have to add sugar to the dough to feed the yeast, otherwise the bread won’t rise properly. In the same way, elevated sugar levels in your blood feed the yeast that is naturally occurring in your vagina and cause it to grow, resulting in a yeast infection.
– Frequent Urination. Peeing is one way the body helps rid itself of excess sugar. As a diabetic, you’ll experience excess urination during times when your blood sugar is not well managed. Unfortunately, this exposes your vaginal opening to sugar-laden urine, which can increase your risk for a yeast infection.
– Medications. Some diabetes medications work by helping your body excrete excess sugar through your urine, which brings us back to why you’re at higher risk of yeast infections when you are diabetic.
Keeping your blood sugar levels in check is incredibly important in maintaining your vaginal health and avoiding infections. In addition to being uncomfortable, those infections can definitely give your lady bits a bad odor.
If you’re already doing a great job of managing your blood sugar and are still experiencing issues, you definitely have other options.
What Can I Do to Prevent Yeast Infections Caused By Diabetes?
Your blood sugar is under control and your doc is happy with your numbers. You’re doing a great job at controlling what you can. If you’re still getting recurrent yeast infections and BV flare ups there is still hope.
You know you don’t want to deal with vaginal odor, but you also don’t want to go to the doctor every single time you have an issue. Luckily there are options to treat recurrent infections at home. Since you’re familiar with the symptoms and their causes you don’t always have to head to the doctor.
You can use Boric Acid suppositories at home without a prescription. Boric Acid is a proven option for treating BV and yeast infections easily. Since these are suppositories you also don’t have to deal with messy creams. It’s a very convenient option that will help you feel better in no time.
What About Diabetes And Urinary Tract Infections?
You know if you are diabetic you are also more at risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs can be extremely painful and incredibly uncomfortable. You’ll feel like you’re continually fighting the urge to urinate only to produce a few drops that feel like fire.
If you are dealing with frequent UTIs you may want to look at ways you can maintain the health of your bladder. You can take a bladder health support supplement to help with that. It’s a great way to help your body out a little more. Since it’s just a vitamin there’s no need to change much about your routine, or even visit your doctor.
You’re Not Alone!
You’re doing a great job managing your diabetes, and you can do a great job managing your vaginal health too. You’re not alone in your fight against diabetic-related vaginal odor and issues. Remember to reach out when you need support. Your doctor or other women with diabetes can be great resources. You don’t have to feel embarrassed. Remember, you are not alone!
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.