Why Does Female Discharge Smell Fishy?

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You may think your vaginal odor is nothing to worry about, but some women experience an oddly strong or rotten-fish smell that’s worth calling your gyno for. A fishy-smelling vaginal discharge may be a sign of an infection, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like itching or burning, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

What You Need to Know If Your Vagina Has a Fishy Odor

A normal, clear discharge is usually white or gray, watery or thin and resembles cottage cheese in consistency. But, as a woman gets older or if she has an infection, her discharge changes in many ways.

Why does female discharge smell fishy? Discharge becomes thicker, thinner or clumpy as a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV). Treatment is with antibiotics in tablets or creams that are absorbed into the vagina.

Occasionally, your discharge can become green or yellow, and start to smell “fishy.” This could be a sign of thrush (a yeast infection). Your doctor will check for other symptoms that could help with diagnosis.

Another reason that a fishy-smelling vaginal discharge may appear is due to sweat mixing with your vaginal flora, says Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB-GYN at the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine.

A metallic odor, on the other hand, is more common during or right after menstruation because your blood cells contain iron. It can also come about if you’ve used pads, tampons or douches during your period and left them in for too long. It should go away on its own, but if it lingers longer than usual, you might want to see your gyno for STI testing.

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