Before we begin to pull apart the causes and remedies for the fishy vaginal odour you have been experiencing, let us clear one thing – our vaginas are supposed to have a certain kind of smell. Despite what you have been told by your sexual partners or the companies selling crotch perfumes.
In fact a healthy vagina would have various scents throughout the cycle, with stronger or subtle variations depending upon the hormones. Some women have a naturally strong odour, while some don’t. If you are sweating a lot or having frequent unprotected sex, it could also alter the scents. But no matter what, the vagina will always have a smell.
Usually, a smell that indicates that something is wrong comes with other symptoms like — itching, swelling, discharge, or pain while urinating. However, it is also possible that the smell is the only indicator of a disease.
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Fishy Vaginal Odour:
If you can smell something fishy down under, could it mean that something is wrong with your vagina? Yes.
You will read so many posts which put women down by saying that the vagina smells like a fish on a regular basis. So much so, women take it to be normal and refuse to see a doctor when it is actually needed.
An intense fishy smell in your vagina usually signals one of these two things – bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
Bacterial vaginosis is an infection linked to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. It is not an STI, though it can be triggered by sex with a new partner.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI in America, given the frequency of casual sex dates. However, this STI can be contacted through non-sexual contact also like, using a dirty toilet or sharing sex toys, etc.
Both these infections cause a fishy smell accompanied by a grey-ish discharge and some itching or burning sensation. Both can also present symptoms very similar to yeast infections, so in situations like this, checking out the unique smell is the key to diagnosing them properly.
Other Types of Vaginal Odours
Musky – when the vagina is healthy, the smell can be due to your physical activity levels. For example, after a dancing class or a high intensity work-out, the smell could be muskier due to the moisture released by the sweat glands, according to Dr. Wider.
Yeast-like – normally some amount of yeast is always present inside the vagina, yeast infection is caused due to the overgrowth owing to lubricants, spermicides or antibiotics, according to ACOG. If you notice a faint smell with cottage cheese like discharge, it means something is wrong.
Bleach-like – Dr. Wider says lubricants or condoms can contribute to this this smell, which most women liken to chlorine or bleach, she says. Luckily, it’s nothing to be worried about — just restock your sex drawer if these scents bother you.
Metallic – in case you feel your vagina has a metallic smell during your periods, do not be alarmed. During our periods, the blood usually gets mixed with the common state of the vagina leading up to the weird, but normal smell, according to Dr. Wider.
Sweet – it is well known that your diet affects the taste and scent of your lady parts. Mostly, citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, etc., are said to sweeten the smell as well as the taste of vaginal fluids, according to Dr. Wider. As opposed to food items like onions, garlic, broccoli, and asparagus which cause an unpleasant scent and taste.
Common Causes of Fishy Odour
A little background check on this fishy smell will help you figure it out better –
Bacterial Vaginosis – it is caused due to the overgrowth of vaginal bacteria and is the most common cause of infections.
Sexually Transmitted Disease – in STDs like Trichomoniasis, you will experience a certain smell along with other symptoms like itching or burning sensation, pain while urination, pain during or after sex, discharge, etc. Usually, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea do not cause any vaginal odour.
Yeast Infection – when your body has contacted a yeast infection, you will in all probability experience the fishy smell accompanied by chunky discharge of yellow or white colour, burning or itching sensation and maybe swelling of the vagina.
Sweating – normal sweating due to your day to day chores or a work-out or anything that made your skin become sweaty can also cause your vagina to start sweating and smell different. If you’re wondering what the causes of vaginal sweating are, you can find an article on that, too!
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – this happens when the bacteria is transmitted to the pelvic region mainly due to sexual intercourse. It has various other symptoms and requires immediate medical attention. They include cramping pain in the lower abdomen without period, nausea, vomiting, and a fever. If the pelvic inflammatory disease gets worse, Dr. Soper says that you may also notice a yellow-green vaginal discharge.
Sexual Intercourse – here, you can blame your hormones, the vaginal discharge, your partner and everything else. It shouldn’t be a very strong, noticeable smell. But if it is, I suggest you go see a doctor.
Forgotten Tampon – now this could be the case with a period cup also. Anything which goes inside the vagina is meant to be taken out, as well. And the sooner you do it, the better it is. Never use a tampon for over 6 hours, irrespective of your flow. If you’re using a menstrual cup, you should empty and clean it every 8 hours.
Period – it is totally normal for a woman to experience a certain smell when she is having her periods. It is usually the blood which is giving off the smell. Blood in itself has no odour but, when it comes in contact with the air, it gets oxidized which is why it may smell.
Diet – what goes inside your body determines how your body will smell. Food items do affect your vaginal odour as well. For instance, citrus fruits are said to make your vagina smell sweet.
Poor Hygiene – this goes without saying, if you don’t keep it clean, it won’t smell good. This is the basic rule for everything and even our bodies. Make sure you take regular baths, change your panties and never wear tampons or pads for too long.
Symptoms that Accompany the Fishy Odour
Sometimes the only symptom that anything is wrong with your vagina is a fishy smell that you detect when you move or remove your pad or underwear. If that is your only symptom, then it could be that better feminine hygiene can remedy the problem.
If it is caused by an infection, the symptoms would include discharge that looks yellowish or gray and has a strong foul odor. Also, you may experience some itching around the labia and notice redness, irritation and possible swelling at the opening of your vagina.
Helpful Tips to Get Rid of the Fishy Odour
There are several ways to get rid of vaginal odor – some natural, some over-the-counter and some prescription strength. However, first here are a few things that you need to stop doing immediately for a speedy recovery.
Do not Douche – douching your vagina isn’t the best idea. Using water or soap to clean up can cause damage to the balance and may even push the infection further inside. You should also skip the feminine washes and powders. The vagina has its own cleaning mechanism and the new chemicals only disrupt the system.
Choice of underwear – if you’re trying to get rid of the odour, get rid of panties that aren’t made of cotton. Cotton underwear is the best to keep your vagina healthy. They let the skin breathe, dry out fast and don’t harbour bacteria.
Soaps – the soap you use to bathe is not the soap you should use to clean your vaginal area. It is best to use pH neutral soaps or just plain water to clean the area. This will keep the balance intact as well as the pH.
Yogurt – to help you with the odour, eat at least two bowls of yogurt every day. It is the best way to get the probiotics our body needs for proper functions and helps get rid of the bacteria.
Water intake – another thing you need to do is increase the water intake. Make sure you drink at least two to three liters of water every day. If you go to the gym or any other physical activity, try drinking upto four liters.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of the Fishy Odour
probiotics are a great way to improve your overall health and get rid of the fishy smell coming from your vagina. They help in increasing the number of “good” bacteria in your body and prevent bacterial vaginosis, yeast as well as other infections.
Probiotics have been noted to have a lasting effect on Bacterial Vaginosis and women who have a high intake of probiotics have lesser cases of recurrence. You should know that probiotics don’t just keep your vagina healthy. It has been proven in various studies that they help maintain the pH balance of our bodies, entirely.
Tea Tree Oil
using the tea tree oil, you can make your own natural vaginal rinse to get rid of any bacteria which is causing the fishy odour:
- Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil and add boiled water.
- Rinse your vagina daily with this remedy.
- Continue the use until the odour is gone.
you can make another rinse with coconut oil and tea tree oil to help treat many issues causing thick, smelly discharge. Follow the steps given below:
- Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil and add 3 drops of tea tree oil.
- Soak a tampon in the remedy and insert into your vagina.
- Leave it inside for at least 2 to 3 hours for the remedy to kill all the bacteria and get rid of the odour.
- Apply the remedy daily until you feel the odour has gone.
Apple Cider Vinegar
there are various ways in which the basic apple cider vinegar can be used to get rid of the fishy odour. To make a bath with the apple cider vinegar to get rid of the smell, discharge and itching, this is what you can do:
- Add two cups of ACV with tea tree oil and some carrier oil. Mix this with your bath water.
- Then soak in this water for about 20 minutes. It is advised that you do this in a bath tub for
Another way to treat fish-smelling vaginal discharge is by soaking a tampon in diluted apple cider vinegar. This is how you can do it:
- Take a tampon and soak it in a mixture of ACV with warm water, both taken in equal parts.
- Then insert the tampon inside your vagina and keep it there for at least 30 minutes. This is to
be done twice daily for minimum one week.
When to See a Doctor
If you are bothered by a strong fishy smell and it is persistent, you should see a doctor. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic suggest that if you are concerned about the fishy odour and all the other remedies have failed, you should go for medical help, especially in cases where you have other signs or symptoms like itching, burning, irritation or abnormal discharge.