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Fishy vaginal smell

Fishy vaginal smell could be simply embarrassing to live with for anyone who ever experienced it. Many women experience this at some point in their lives. Unpleasant vaginal odor affects woman’s self-esteem and it can also disturb intimate relationships and sex life. In most cases fishy vaginal smell is a symptom of vaginal infection.

Healthy vagina and healthy vaginal hygiene are extremely important for women. Each woman has specific normal vaginal odor. In general, vaginal smell is a result of several factors – combination of sweat, vaginal bacteria, consumed foods, bowel work, vaginal secretion (including attracting pheromones) and underwear texture.

Vaginal smell can be changed depending on several factors:

  • After intensive sport you could feel strong musky vaginal odor;
  • During menstruation vagina has flinty-iron smell of blood;
  • Vaginal yeast infection smell like malt beer (especially after sexual contacts);
  • After shower or bath (proper hygiene) usually vagina has no smell.

Fishy vaginal odor could be noted even in girls who never been sexually active but in most cases fishy odor could be in sexually active women (especially in cases of multiple partners).

In most cases unusual fishy vaginal smell is combined with other symptoms such as vaginal discharge, itching, burning sensation or irritation.

Fishy vaginal smell causes

Fishy vaginal smell during Bacterial Vaginosis

Fishy vaginal smell

Fishy vaginal smell

Bacterial vaginosis (so called “anaerobic vaginosis”) can affect women at any age. All women have harmless bacteria in their vaginal passage. Bacterial vaginosis is usually the result of overgrowth of bacteria normally present in the vagina – bacterial imbalance in the vagina.
Any mis-balance will lead to an infection and result in bacterial vaginosis due to bacteria that are normally present in the vagina.

Fishy vaginal odor is a very typical and common symptom of Bacterial Vaginosis (BI). During bacterial vaginosis usually women suffer not only from unpleasant vaginal odor but also from grey or white thin vaginal discharge, vaginal burning sensation and burning sensations during urination and during/after intercourse.

Fishy vaginal smell during Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted infection that affects young and sexually active women. Trichomoniasis is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite called “Trichomonas vaginalis”. About 20% of women develop vaginal trichomoniasis during their reproductive period of life. Symptoms of trichomoniasis usually appear in women within 5 to 28 days of exposure.

During trichomoniasis the fishy vaginal odor could appear combined with intensive vaginal discharge (greenish yellow, frothy, fishy-smelling), burning sensations during urination and sexual contacts, vaginal discomfort and irritation as well as abdominal pain.

Fishy vaginal smell during Yeast Infection

Yeast infection is pretty common vaginal infection triggered by fungus Candida albicans. Over 75% of all women will get a yeast infection at some point in their lives (commonly during pregnancy). Yeast infection symptoms could appear differently depending on period of menstrual cycle – yeast infection symptoms are more likely to occur during the week before the menstrual period.

Fishy vaginal smell is not very typical for yeast infection but sometimes it could appear – in most cases if it is combined by other vaginal infections. Most typical symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include vaginal itching, “like cottage cheese” vaginal discharge, frequent painful urination, vaginal irritation and burning sensations.

Fishy vaginal smell triggered by sweat

Excessive sweat can cause unpleasant vaginal smell triggered by vaginal apocrine sweat glands. When these glands secrete oils, the vaginal bacteria metabolize them and emit a distinct odor (sometimes fishy smell). The more sweat your vagina produce, the stronger the odor will be.

Main causes of excessive vaginal sweat include synthetic clothing, tight clothing, obesity, intensive pubic hair, improper hygiene, excess sweating triggered by hormonal imbalance, menopause hot flashes and night sweats.

Fishy vaginal smell during PID

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is always caused by vaginal bacteria which travel through the vagina and into the uterus. In most cases PID is a result of sexually transmitted infections which can be also responsible for fishy vaginal odor.

Main PID symptoms include pelvic pain, abdominal pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, increased or changed vaginal discharge, fever and chills, vomiting and nausea, pain and/or discomfort during sex

Fishy vaginal smell related to diet

It is well known that consumed foods can actually affect vaginal smell. Foods that have strong scents, like garlic, pepper, chilies, fish, blue cheese, onion, cabbage and broccoli can cause strange odors. If any specific food triggers fishy smell, better to avoid that kind of foods.

Check solutions for fishy vaginal smell in next article – “Vaginal smell natural remedies”.


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