Why is my vagina fishy?

Why is my vagina fishy?

Bacterial Vaginosis explained

Well, well, well, did I stumble into a fish market or is that just my vagina? 

Vaginas, like fish in the ocean, are seemingly endless in their variety. Their unique scents are a reflection of the microbiome of the person they belong to and they can smell any number of ways. That said, there are a few distinct scents that luckily tip us off to infection or imbalance that may need to be treated. 

Fishiness is an extremely common vaginal odor and a sign of a bacterial infection in the vagina called bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s so common in fact that one in three women will have it at least once in their lifetime. The infection occurs when there’s an imbalance and overgrowth of one type of bacteria in the vagina. 

Potential symptoms of bacterial vaginosis:

- Fishy smell
- Off-white, grey, or greenish discharge
- Vaginal irritation
- Some people don’t have symptoms at all

    It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of BV which can be extremely frustrating. It it far more common among sexually active people, though, to be clear, it is not an STD. New sex partners or multiple partners can increase your chances of getting BV, as well as things like having an IUD or douching. BV is also common during pregnancy. 

    Right now the only treatment for BV is antibiotics which have to be prescribed, although luckily one third of cases do clear up on their own. If you are experiencing symptoms, though, you should reach out to your doctor for treatment. There’s unfortunately no full-proof at-home remedy or over-the-counter treatment available right now. It’s important to seek care because BV can make you more susceptible to STDs if left untreated. 

    The best preventative measures for BV:

    - Avoid any type of douching
    - Wear cotton underwear
    - Clean your sex toys
    - Wipe front to back
    - Use a condom
    - Limit your number of sex partners

      BV is crazy common and we know how annoying it is, especially if you deal with recurring cases and don’t want to have to structure your life and relationships around infections. More research is still needed in order to understand the cause of BV and to find better, more accessible treatment. But, hopefully, with more open and unapologetic conversations around vaginal health we can usher in a new, less taboo orientation toward a vaginal condition that is nearly universal.