How to Handle Fishy Odor That Won't Wash Away

Feminine Odor

Most women have odorless vaginal discharge that serves to keep the vagina moist and healthy. This is completely normal. But right after sex, there can be a strong, fishy odor that won't wash away, no matter how many showers and baths we take. Why is that? It can be embarrassing and it even lasts up to 24 hrs. This happens to all of us, even those who are rarely bothered with odor.

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Normally, we notice that our discharge changes throughout our menstrual cycle. After our period, it changes from thin and watery to thick and pasty, and during ovulation, it becomes like mucous and very gooey, but not smelly or itchy.

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Vaginal discharge that is odorous, itchy or burning is usually caused by an imbalance of vaginal pH. This imbalance causes an overgrowth of a variety of microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria, and fungi and can cause yeast and bacterial infections (BV). This change suppresses the healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus, and causes it to be unable to do its job of keeping the vagina clean and healthy. 

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Of course, there are other reasons why we might have a vaginal odor and rarely is it from lack of bathing. In fact, most of the time excessive washing and douching is the cause of reoccurring infections and odors. Wearing tight or non-absorbent panties and nylons and not changing tampons or pads frequently enough can also cause vaginal odor.

SEE Post-coitus clean-up: How to get rid of semen leaking out of your vagina all day.

Vaginal odor may also worsen after sex due to the mixing of semen, sweat, vaginal fluids and chemicals our body makes called amines. Semen has a neutral pH of 7, the same as period blood. But, a healthy vagina should be acidic, with a pH of 4. 


When semen is ejaculated into the vagina, the vaginal flora will be become disrupted as the pH rises. It is this rise of pH that allows the yeast and abnormal bacteria to grow and overpower the Lactobacillus. The abnormal bacteria and yeast produce the odor. The same is true of period blood and hormone imbalances. 

SEE How to Deal With Watery Discharge That Comes Out Minutes After Sex.

So, make it a habit to jump out of bed and rinse the semen out of the vagina with plain water only. Do not let soap get into your vagina, as it is very alkaline and will bring on recurrent infections and odor. Use soap to wash your outer vaginal area, labia, and anus.

ALSO, READ Is there a ‘right way’ to clean the genitals? The vagina? Find out!

Remember, it is also important to wear loose cotton underwear or no underwear at bedtime. This will help ventilate the vaginal area. 

ALSO, READ Ladies, this is why you should always wear cotton underwear

I hope this helps you all have a better understanding of how our bodies work and what keeps us healthy.

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