What Causes a Fishy Smell | Urinary Tract Infection | Bacterial Vaginosis

Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Fish?

A fishy smell from your vagina can be caused by several factors such as sweating, a vaginal infection, your diet or poor hygiene. While some of these causes can be resolved at home, others may need medical treatment.

Read on for more understanding about fishy vaginal odor, what causes it, and what to do about it.

When a Fishy Vagina Smell Needs Medical Treatment

Given that the vagina contains billions of bacteria, a slight musky smell is usual. But if the vagina emits a strong fishy smell and it is accompanied by a burning sensation, itching, or unusual vaginal discharge, it is time to see a doctor about treatment.  

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What Causes a Fishy Smell from the Vagina? 


Trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), causes a fishy vaginal smell.  Also known as “trich,” the infection is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV) when transmitted during intercourse. 

Additional symptoms of the fishy smell associated with trich include a frothy yellow-green discharge, genital itching, painful urination, and intercourse, as well as vaginal swelling.

Treatment for Fishy Vagina Smell Due to Trichomoniasis

Trich can be tricky to detect in most people because only 30 percent of people with trichomoniasis experience any symptoms. It is therefore essential to schedule regular sexual health check-ups if you are sexually active with different partners. 

If ignored, besides the unpleasant fishy odor, trich can result in serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or preterm birth if you’re pregnant. The good news is, it is easily cured with a course of antibiotics. 

Urinary Tract Infection 

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. According to studies, almost 60% of women suffer from at least one UTI in their life. 

The reason being, the urethra is the tube where urine exits the body from the bladder, in a woman’s body, the urethra is quite close to both the vagina and the anus. Thus, enabling bacterial microbes to pass more easily from the anus to the urethra. 

Treatment for a Fishy Vagina Smell Due to a UTI 

Although antibiotics are commonly prescribed as treatment, several UTI home remedies can relieve symptoms too. Drinking plenty of water & unsweetened cranberry juice to flush the bacteria, remembering to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom, and ensuring to wash the intimate areas after sexual intercourse are some excellent preventative methods. 

Freeze Dried Aloe Vera Supplements with D-Mannose & Calcium from Intimate Rose also come highly recommended for both soothing and preventing urinary tract infections. When taken on an ongoing preventative basis, this 3-in-1 women’s health supplement successfully discourages harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. 

Bacterial Vaginosis 

A vaginal infection known as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is one of the main causes of a fishy-smelling odor from the vagina in women aged 15-44. The naturally acidic environment of the vagina usually maintains the bacteria and yeast growth balance, however, changes in the vaginal pH can lead to an infection and cause a fishy odor. 

Additional symptoms of this type of vaginal fishy smell include a burning sensation when urinating, severe vaginal itching, and a grey-colored discharge. 

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Treatment for a Fishy Vagina Smell Due to BV

Vaginal boric acid suppositories, like the Intimate Rose Boric Balance, are often used to treat BV and restore a healthy pH balance in the vagina, as well as eliminate odors, and reduce the risk of further infection. 

Forgotten Tampons

A fishy vaginal odor could also be the result of a forgotten tampon. Although tampons cannot get completely lost inside the body, they can get stuck at the top of the vagina when forgotten and eventually emit a rotting fish smell. 

Treatment for a Fishy Vagina Smell Due to A Forgotten Tampon

If you suspect the fishy odor from your vagina could be a forgotten tampon, don’t try to remove it on your own. It is always best to have a doctor remove the tampon to ensure that no fragments are left behind, and it also allows the doctor to check for any underlying infection. 

Poor Hygiene & Sweating

Considering that a woman’s genital area contains a large collection of sweat glands, it is no surprise that the vaginal area can be prone to sweating, which can emanate as a fishy smell in some women if left unwashed.   

The body contains two types of sweat glands – the apocrine and eccrine. The eccrine glands’ role is to cool the body by producing sweat. The apocrine glands, located in the armpits and groin, respond to emotions like stress or anxiety by producing a milky fluid. This fluid is harmless and odorless, but when it comes in contact with vaginal bacteria it can become pungent.  

Treatment For a Fishy Vagina Smell Due to Sweating & Hygiene

It may be tempting to vigorously clean the inside of your vagina or try to mask the smell by douching. But any type of chemicals will alter your vaginal pH, making the situation worse and possibly leading to an infection. 

Regular washing with warm water and unscented soap will keep the vagina clean, fresh-smelling, and healthy. Showering & changing clothes after the gym, as well as changing underwear daily, will also ensure optimal vaginal hygiene. 

Poor Diet Choices  

Eating certain foods can also bring about odor changes in the vagina, especially food with strong smells. For example, onion, garlic, spicy & smoked foods can alter the acidity level of the microflora that are directly responsible for vaginal odor. 

Treatment For a Fishy Vagina Smell Due to Poor Diet 

The most important factor to consider about your diet when it comes to maintaining a healthy vagina is the pH level. Foods that can alter the natural pH balance of the vagina could be discussed with a nutritionist for more understanding. If in doubt, however, a nutritious & healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and vitamins should help to keep everything balanced.  


Vaginal odors can change for various reasons and although a fishy vagina smell might seem alarming, it is usually treatable with natural supplements and home remedies.

Should you experience a fishy vagina smell with additional symptoms such as itching, burning, and swelling that does not get better using these natural remedies, make an appointment with your healthcare professional for further treatment.  


Cleveland Clinic - Vaginal odor: Possible causes

National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues – Urinary Tract Infection in Adults - 


European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences - A promising support for acute urinary tract infections in women. A pilot study.

Center For Disease Control & Prevention – Bacterial Vaginosis - https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm

News Medical – How to Remove a Stuck Tampon - https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-to-Remove-a-Stuck-Tampon.aspx

Mayo Clinic – Vaginal Odor - https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-odor/basics/causes/sym-20050664

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