Having a vaginal smell can be very embarrassing and upsetting for women. However, it is quite a common issue, and you are not alone if you suffer from it.

A vaginal smell is quite distinctive, and it is an issue that you will notice almost immediately. This is because vaginal discharge and vaginas themselves do not have a strong odor, so when something is amiss, you will notice it immediately.

It is normal for your vagina and vaginal discharge to have an odor to it, but if you notice that it smells fishy or is particularly strong, then it could be a sign of an infection.

Why Does My Vagina Smell Fishy?

If you notice that a fishy odor, then it could be a sign of an infection. 

Our bodies are very clever and have their own ways of letting us know when something is wrong. Vaginas are no exception, and a distinct or fishy odor could be a sign that you have an infection and something is not right down there. 

Vaginas are self-cleaning organs, and they are equipped to deal with some issues on their own. However, when things get out of hand, your vagina will give you some signs that it needs some help. In some cases, this can be vaginal discharge that is yellow or green in color, itching, and redness or a fishy odor.

You may notice that your vagina has a fishy odor when you are in the shower, going to the toilet, or removing a pad. If the issue is very severe, then you may even notice this odor when you are moving around.

In some cases, a smelly vagina may just be a symptom of poor hygiene. 

This will be the case if the only symptom you have is a strong or fishy smell in your vagina, in which case you need to up your feminine hygiene routine.

However, fishy vaginal smells can also be a sign of an infection. If this is the case, then it is likely that you will have other symptoms too, including:

  • Excess discharge
  • Discharge that is yellow, green or grey
  • A strong odor and discharge
  • Itching in the labia
  • Redness
  • Swelling to the labia

These are all signs that something isn’t right with your vaginal health, and you should speak to a doctor or gynecologist about the treatment you need.

It is also possible for you to notice a vaginal odor during or after your period if you have an infection. This may also be the case after you have had sex.

What Should My Vagina Smell Like Normally?

It is natural for your vagina to have some kind of odor. In some cases, this can be very subtle, whereas other women may have a stronger odor.

This is a perfectly normal and healthy thing to experience, just like discharge.

It is normal for your vagina to produce discharge as this is how it cleans itself. Discharge is simply the waste that the body no longer needs and is getting rid of. 

Normal and healthy discharge should be clear or white, in color and can have a very slight vaginal odor. If you notice that your discharge and vagina have a fishy smell, then you will need some treatment.

What Causes Fishy Vaginal Smell?

There are several factors that can cause a vaginal scent, some of which are quite serious and may require medical attention.

  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This is a bacterial infection that can cause the vagina to have a fishy smell. It is not a serious infection that can have lasting damage, but you need to get it treated so it will stop reoccurring.

  • Yeast Infection

These kinds of infections are caused by an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria that is present in the vagina. This imbalance causes yeast to form, which causes a distinct odor and clumpy discharge.

  • Trichomoniasis

This is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) where a fishy vagina is a clear symptom, along with clumpy, yellow discharge. This needs to be treated professionally.

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

This is an inflammatory disease that is caused by bacteria in the vagina, which then affects the sexual organs. It can also cause irregular bleeding, cramps, nausea, and fever.

  • Forgotten Tampon

If you leave a tampon in your vagina for too long, it can cause a fishy vaginal smell. This can also happen if you are wearing a pad for too long as both cause a build-up of bacteria.

  • Poor Feminine Hygiene

In some cases, a smelly vagina is not a symptom of infection but just a sign that you need to take better care of your vagina. Having poor feminine hygiene can cause bacteria to build up in the area, which will cause a fishy odor.

  • Sweat

Sometimes, a vaginal smell is caused by a combination of sweat, normal vaginal discharge, and urine. This is why it is important for you to have a good feminine hygiene routine.

  • Food Triggers

Some foods or supplements can actually cause the vagina to have a strong or fishy odor. This has been reported to occur with asparagus and foods that are high in B6. It could also be a sign that you are not drinking enough water.

How To Treat A Fishy Smell?

Luckily, there are a lot of treatments for a fishy vagina that you can use at home. If you think that you have an infection, then you should seek medical help as you may need antibiotics.

  • Take probiotics regularly to improve feminine health 
  • Use tea tree oil in a vaginal rinse with warm water to kill bacteria and reduce fishy odor
  • Use coconut oil and tea tree oil combined as a suppository to treat infections 
  • Make an apple cider vinegar bath and soak for 20-minutes 
  • Use a soap-free feminine wash regularly 
  • Avoid tight-fitting underwear and wear cotton often