Why Does My Vagina Smell Fishy?

Anytime you notice a new smell coming from your vagina you may wonder what’s changed. You may also wonder if there’s cause for worry. One of the most common smells many women worry about is a noticeable fishy odor coming from their vagina.

This fishy odor could be something as simple as a slight hormonal change. It could also be something you need to see your doctor about such as an STI. If you notice that this smell is new and strong, it’s probably time to talk to your OB/GYN for some advice. Even if it’s something simple, your mind will at least be put at ease knowing nothing serious is wrong.

Sometimes the fishy smell you’re noticing may come with other uncomfortable symptoms such as itching and burning. These are also symptoms a doctor can help you address, but until you can see your doctor to get some tests done, here are some possible reasons your vagina smells fishy.

Possible Causes For A Fishy Smelling Vagina

woman worried about her vagina smelling fishy

– BV (Bacterial Vaginosis)

This is a relatively easy to treat infection that can be caused by several different things. It doesn’t mean your vagina is dirty or that you did anything wrong. BV can be caused by hormonal changes, the wrong underwear, or a change in how often you are having sex.

If you’ve had BV before and are familiar with how your body reacts and what you prefer to do to treat it you may not need to see your doctor right away. You can always try things like Boric Acid suppositories if you know they’ve worked for you in the past. A lot of BV infections are successfully treated with Boric Acid and can quickly get rid of the fishy smell you are noticing.

– Trichomoniasis 

Trichomoniasis is an STI so you will want to see your doctor if you suspect this is what’s going on. It’s easily treated but you won’t want to ignore it and let it get worse. The sooner you get it treated the better. You’ll feel more comfortable, the smell will go away, and you’ll decrease the risk of passing the STI on to your partner. 

It’s important to be honest with your doctor about sexual activity when you go to see them. They are not going to be judging you, they just want to make sure they are running the right tests and offering the appropriate treatments. If you’ve had sex recently and are worried that’s the cause of your symptoms, tell your doctor right away.

– Sweat

Sometimes when you are sweating a lot and you don’t have the right underwear on, you may notice a fishy smell from your vaginal area. This doesn’t indicate the presence of an infection and can be fixed easily with the right underwear or workout gear. 

If sweat is the cause for the fishy smell, you probably won’t notice any other symptoms like itching or burning. Try switching to all cotton underwear or at least underwear with a cotton crotch. If you’re wearing tight-fitting pants, like yoga pants, make sure they have a cotton crotch as well or you may continue to experience this fishy smell after workouts or anytime you sweat.


Sometimes you may think your vagina smells fishy when in reality it’s your urine. It’s not always easy to tell the difference because you often notice the fishy smell when you’re already using the bathroom. 

If you think you may have a UTI and notice other symptoms like an increase in how often you are urinating, it’s time to see your doctor. Your doctor can test for a UTI and get you the best treatment as quickly as possible.

woman with fishy smelling vagina worried about causes

– Period/Tampon Usage

Your period may cause your vagina to smell a little differently than it usually does. It’s completely normal to have changes in discharge and smells as your cycle changes. Hormones and period discharge can do that. There’s no huge cause for worry about a fishy smell during your period unless you notice the smell growing stronger.

If the smell is getting stronger as your period goes on, and you aren’t sure why it’s time to make sure you haven’t forgotten to remove a tampon. Sometimes this happens and can cause smells or even infections if left in for too long. If you’ve forgotten a tampon or gotten one stuck, head to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Not only can your doctor help you remove anything that is stuck, like a tampon. They can also help treat any infection that may have been caused by a tampon left in for too long. Don’t be embarrassed to tell them what’s up, this is something they deal with often and you are not the first person to have this issue. 

– Yeast Infection

If you’re noticing a lot of itching and discharge along with the fishy smell you may have a yeast infection. The good news is, as uncomfortable as a yeast infection is, they’re very easy to treat and you can use over the counter products to treat them quickly. 

If you’re unsure that you have a yeast infection and not something else, you’ll want to ask your doctor to run some tests before you try to treat it with anything. 

Possible Treatments For A Fishy Smelling Vagina

There are some things you can do to treat some causes of vaginal odor from home. You’ve already read about things like Boric Acid and over the counter yeast infection treatments. Those are great options, especially if you already know what’s causing the odor. Remember that if you’re unsure about the cause, it’s important to see a doctor so they can help you figure things out.

You may also want to try washing your labia with mild unscented soap and warm water. This can help get rid of the odor if it’s just caused by sweat. You can also consider things like changing your hygiene habits, especially if you’ve been douching a lot. Many products, like douches, advertised to clean your vagina can actually make things worse in the end.

Try switching out any heavily scented products for milder soaps that are unscented. Your vagina is highly efficient at cleaning itself and doesn’t often need much assistance. Unless your doctor specifically tells you otherwise, it’s best to avoid douching and other vaginal cleansers. You may be surprised to find that getting rid of those things gets rid of the fishy smell you were worried about altogether.

confident woman who treated the cause of her fishy smelling vagina
No matter what’s causing your vagina to have a change in odor or a fishy smell, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Vaginal discharge is normal and sometimes it does have an odor. Address any concerns you have with your doctor, and always use the best treatment possible. You’ll be back to yourself and enjoying life again in no time.