If you notice a fishy smell “down there,” you’re not alone. Many women experience this at some point in their lives, but it is often an indication that something isn’t right. While doctors agree that it’s difficult to gauge what’s “normal” and what isn’t, a particularly strong odor typically indicates an infection. There could be other causes as well. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of fishy vaginal odor, and some tips on how to ditch the odor.
Table of Contents
- 6 Common Causes of Fishy Odors
- How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
- Best Product in 2016 – Over the Counter Product: RepHresh Vaginal Gel
6 Common Causes of Fishy Odors
The most common cause of an unpleasant, or fishy, odor is an infection – bacterial vaginosis in particular. Doctors are still unsure of what causes this infection, but common symptoms include:
Bacterial vaginosis is typically transmitted through sexual intercourse, and is treated with antibiotics. See your doctor right away if you think you might have this type of infection.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite. Most women don’t experience any symptoms, but if they do present themselves, women often experience:
- Frothy discharge that is green or yellow in color.
- Discharge that has a fishy odor.
- Burning during sex or urination.
Trichomoniasis is easily treated with a single round of antibiotics, so see your doctor if you suspect that you might have this STI.
3. Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are common among women, and often causes a thick white or yellow discharge to appear. The discharge may also take on a fishy smell, and you may experience soreness, itching and burning as well.
This type of infection is typically treated with an antifungal medication that can be purchased over the counter.
Sweat can cause unpleasant smells in the vaginal area. These odors are caused by the apocrine sweat glands in your vaginal area – the same glands found in your armpits. When these glands secrete oils, the bacteria on your skin metabolize them and emit a distinct odor. The more sweat you produce in this area, the stronger the odor will be.
If you have a habit of wearing tight clothing or underwear, trapped sweat in your groin may be causing the fishy odor. Overweight women, in particular, have this issue as skin folds trap sweat and lead to unpleasant smells.
5. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Also known as PID, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is caused by bacteria, and is typically transmitted through sexual intercourse. The bacteria travels through the vagina and into the uterus.
PID is often the late-stage result of an STD, like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Most women don’t realize that they have this disease until they begin experiencing chronic pain or have difficulty getting pregnant. When symptoms do present themselves, women often experience fishy odors, pelvic pain, fatigue, painful urination or sex, fever and heavy discharge.
6. The Foods You Eat
You may not realize it, but the foods you eat can actually affect your vaginal odor. Foods that have strong scents, like garlic, pepper, chilies, fish, blue cheese, onion, cabbage and broccoli can cause strange odors. If food is causing the fishy smell, try eliminating them from your diet to see if the smell improves.
How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
There are several ways to get rid of vaginal odor – some natural, some over-the-counter and some prescription strength.
If you do have an infection caused by an STD or bacteria (like bacterial vaginosis), please consult with your doctor before trying any over the counter method. Antibiotics or a prescription medication may be required to clear the infection.
If you’ve been advised by your doctor that an over the counter method is okay or the fishy smell is caused by something other than an infection, there are some things you can do at home to get rid of the smell.
But first, let’s talk about some things you should stop doing – because they’re probably making the problem worse.
1. Don’t Douche
Douching is not a good idea. Forcing water or a cleaning agent into your vagina can destroy healthy bacteria or push an infection up into your uterus. It’s best to avoid feminine sprays, too.
Remember: Your vagina has its own natural cleaning mechanism. There’s no need to force water or harsh chemicals into your vagina to keep it clean.
2. Don’t Wear Tight Underwear
Tight underwear can trap bacteria and sweat, which can create strong, fishy odors. Wear looser-fitting underwear and clothing to prevent this from happening.
3. Don’t Wash with Harsh Soap
Soaps with harsh chemicals or strong scents can irritate the vagina and in some cases, lead to an infection. Wash with a mild soap, or simply stick to plain water.
4. Eat Yogurt – the Best Natural Method
Yogurt contains natural beneficial bacteria that can help keep yeast infections at bay. It will take some time for this remedy to work, but it will keep the balance of good and bad bacteria at healthy levels.
Make sure that the yogurt contains live and active cultures.
Some women have also found success by applying the yogurt directly to the vulva.
Best Product in 2016 – Over the Counter Product: RepHresh Vaginal Gel
One of the most effective ways to eliminate unpleasant vaginal odors is to maintain healthy vaginal pH. RepHresh can help you do that.
Designed to eliminate odors, RepHresh offers pre-filled applicators that last for three days. Each box includes a 12-day supply of applicators.
The great thing about this gel is that it’s clinically proven to maintain healthy pH levels in the vagina, which not only helps keep odors away, but prevents infections as well.
Vaginal odors are something no one wants to talk about, but if you’re experiencing a particularly strong, fishy odor, it’s time to do something about it. First, see your doctor to see what the cause is. If your doctor permits, try one of the products or remedies above to eliminate odors and restore your vagina’s healthy PH.