Fishy vaginal odor is almost always a cause for concern for women. Not only is this embarrassing, it can also affect sexual intimacy.
What Causes The Vagina To Have A Fishy Smell?
Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection most often recognized for its fishy odor. Women often complain of a musty smell or fishy genital odor, itching, irritation to the vagina and vulva, and pelvic pain. Contrary to what one may believe, bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease; however, it is more common among women who are sexually active, especially those with multiple partners.
Medically referred to as gardnerella vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis was named after the bacteria Gardnerella thought to lead to this embarrassing and unpleasant condition. Recent research uncovered that there are other species of bacteria besides Gardnerella that live within the vagina naturally that may also cause a fishy vaginal odor. The musty smell develops there are too many active “bad” bacteria causing an imbalance of the bacteria flora.
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include a grayish, white vaginal discharge with odor. The amount of this discharge can vary from person to person. Many describe the odor as a fishy genital odor. Other symptoms include discomfort during sex, pelvic pain, vaginal and vulva irritation, and excessive moisture. Some women, however, do not have any symptoms at all with this form of vaginosis.
To diagnose bacterial vaginosis, one should see a doctor and have a pelvic examination. This is generally done to rule out more severe problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases. The doctor will take a sample of discharge to view under the microscope. The microscopic exam allows the doctor to distinguish bacterial vaginosis from other forms of vaginitis. Another test often used to diagnose bacterial vaginosis is called the “whiff test”. This is where a drop of potassium hydroxide solution is added to a sample of the discharge. The result is a magnification of the strong fishy feminine odor from the vaginal secretions.
Another possible cause of fishy feminine odor is excessive moisture and sweat. When one sit around in wet clothing, such as a bathing suit, this promotes bacteria growth and alters the pH of the vaginal canal. Excessive sweating around the vagina will also produce an environment that is excellent for bacteria overgrowth. Many women notice a urine odor or vaginal discharge with odor after exercising or sitting around in tight-fitting clothing. Thongs, lacy teddies, G-strings, and other sexy lingerie should be avoided and reserved for only special occasions. These types of garments cling to the body and promote fishy feminine odor because they keep your sweat and natural body odor closer to your skin.
Treatments and Remedies To Get Rid of Fishy Vaginal Odor
The first thing one should do for fishy feminine odor involves some proper hygiene care. Frequent showers and cleaning with mild, unscented soap will help to provide some relief and control to this musty smell. Avoid the use of flowery scented feminine washes and douches, as these solutions flush out both vagina’s “good” and “bad” bacteria and make the fishy genital odor even worse. One should also clean the genital area well after sexual intercourse. Semen left in the vagina enhances the vagina flora environment for new bacteria growth.
Antibiotics are used as first-line treatment for bacterial vaginosis. In most cases, one course of treatment is all that is necessary to clear the condition. For a small percentage of women, however, the symptoms reoccur and have to be treated again. In these instances, a second round of antibiotics is needed to treat the fishy vaginal odor.
Medications used to treat this form of vaginosis include metronidazole (Flagyl) and clindamycin (Cleocin). These medicines are available in pill form or the doctor can prescribe an intra-vaginal solution that one insert into the vaginal canal.
One should also avoid using any over-the-counter treatments for yeast infection, as these do not treat the root cause of fishy genital odor. Yeast rarely causes a musty smell, urine odor, or fishy vaginal odor. Typical vaginal yeast infection only leads to irritation and a thick, white cottage-cheese appearing discharge without the fish odor.
Another way of controlling vaginal odor involves wearing only cotton panties. The more attractive versions of underwear often irritate the skin, trap heat and moisture in the area, and allow bacteria to grow and thrive. Cotton, on the other hand, allows the genital area to breath and keeps it dry.
Many have found that apple cider vinegar added to bath water eliminates embarrassing fishy genital odor. To do this, one should pour a cup of the solution in a shallow bath and soak for at least fifteen minutes. If soaking isn’t for you, try eating yogurt. Plain yogurt contains lactobacillus acidophilus which can inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the body as well as vagina. Simply eating two cups of plain yogurt every day or giving yourself a yogurt douche will help to get rid of the fishy vaginal odor.