6 Fishy Vaginal Odor Causes & How to Get Rid of It


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.

6 Common Causes of Fishy Odors

6 Fishy Vaginal Odor Causes

1. Bacterial Vaginosis

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:

Two fishes are chating with each other
Source: https://www.allthingsvagina.com
  • Fishy odor.
  • Grey or white thin discharge.
  • Burning during urination or intercourse.

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.

2. Trichomoniasis

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.

[Read more about Yeast Infection]

4. Sweat

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

Picture describing pelvic inflammation disease
Source: https://www.shadygrovefertility.com

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.


    • I am 13 and my vagina smells like fish it doesn’t really hert , but occasionally ( every couple of weeks ) it will become irritated I don’t know what to do, is it serious? Do I need to tell someone?

  1. I have fishy odor down there but I don’t know the reason, because I wash my private parts after using the toilet and even while taking my bath

  2. Please help! I just had my third child 4 months ago. My vagina started smelling like fish a couple weeks ago and every time I wash it still smells that way. I also have yellow discharge and white discharge. The only thing is ,I don’t have any pain or soreness. What could this be and how to fix it myself

  3. Women do not smell like fish. I’ve smelled fish and I’ve never been around a woman who smelled like one. The smell is closer to iron or metal, in general, but definitely not fish.

  4. For the past 2 days now i have beein experiencing this fishy odour in my white discharge. I first noticed the smell while i ws having sex with my partner n we stopped right away…what can be done immediately to get rid of this? Pls reply asap.

  5. I have a discharge sometime not all the time it’s white not thick no itching no burning but it smells fishy after intercourse i clean up right after it doesn’t smell fishy while we are intetacting but the next morning even after i shower its becoming annoying cause im a clean person

  6. Why do my virginal smells…I don’t understand am tired..but to my surprise my virginal don’t smell before until now that am pregnant..pls I need you to reply me asap it getting out of hand’s

  7. I have the same issues of a strong smelling vagina. I have been treated several times over the course of my life for BV, but the smell just lingers on. What I have found most helpful is bathing daily alternating adding baking soda and vinegar to your water. When you get out of the tub dry off well and rub tea tree oil for the scalp over your vulva and the opening of your vagina. Next take white stick deodorant and rub between your thighs and any creases around your pubic area. I usually reapply the tea tree oil after going to the bathroom for the first day or so. I hope this helps!

  8. That is simply natural vaginal mucosal secretions your body discharges…It helps you get pregnant easier(protects sperm & provides means of travel to ovum)

  9. Please I need help, I’ve been experiencing fish smell in my vagina and I’ve ran all the tests required that show there’s no infection, I’ve also been advised by a gynecologist on some drugs to take but the problem is immediately after the drugs the smell comes back, what could be wrong?


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