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3 main causes for fishy vaginal smell and how to treat it

The presence of foul smelling vaginal discharge is a warning sign for women, as it is normally an indicator of bacterial infections or parasites that can be passed through unprotected sexual contact.

This kind of foul smell is similar to the smell of rotten fish and is generally accompanied by other symptoms, such as itchiness, burning sensation when urinating, discharge that is a yellow-green color and pain during sexual contact.

The main causes for vaginal discharge with a foul smell are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis: it's a vaginal infection normally caused by the Gardnerella sp. bacteria, resulting in strong smelling and yellow or gray discharge. 
  • Trichomoniasis: it's another vaginal infection caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite, which is characterized by strong smelling yellow-green discharge;
  • Gonorrhea: it's a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria and it results in the appearance of brown discharge. 

Candidiasis is also another main causes of vaginal infection and discharge in women, but foul smelling is not a very common symptom.

3 main causes for fishy vaginal smell and how to treat it

Treatment for foul smelling discharge

The treatment for foul smelling discharge depends on the cause, and so the gynecologist may prescribe antibiotics, antifungal medication or creams to be applied directly on the vagina. 

It is important to note that the duration of the treatment depends on the severity of the health issue and the type of discharge. Additionally, the partner may also need treatment and gynecologists generally recommend that sexual contact should be avoided until the infection has disappeared. 

Home remedy for foul smelling discharge

A good home remedy to reduce the discomfort caused by the foul smelling discharge during treatment is to have a sitz bath with guava leaves, as they have antibiotic properties that can help.


  • 30 grams guava leaves;
  • 1 liter of water.

Preparation method

Bring 1 liter of water to a boil, take the water off the heat, add 30 grams of guava leaves, put the lid on the pan and leave to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, discard the leaves and place the infusion in a big basin. 

When the infusion has cooled and is comfortable to the touch, take off your clothes before sitting in the basin and then clean the whole genital area until the water cools completely. Do this two to three times a day.

In addition to the sitz bath with guava leaves, you can make some changes in your diet such as eat lots of fruit, vegetables, leafy greens and natural yoghurt. These diet changes will help diminish the foul smelling discharge as they will help balance the bacterial flora of the vagina.

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