What other symptoms might occur with vaginal odor?

Abnormal vaginal odor is often described as a strong fish-like smell that may become worse or more noticeable after sexual intercourse. Vaginal odor may occur with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, vaginal odor due to an infection that causes pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur with fever and pelvic pain.

Symptoms that may occur along with vaginal odor

Vaginal odor may accompany other symptoms including:

  • Difficulty getting pregnant or infertility due to scarring of the reproductive organs as a result of certain sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Genital blisters or lesions due to genital herpes or chancroid

  • Low back pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting due to pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Painful sexual intercourse

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or cramps

  • Unusual, heavy or persistent vaginal discharge

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting

  • Vaginal or genital itching

  • Vaginal or genital pain or burning

Symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition

In some cases, vaginal odor can be caused by or indicate a serious underlying condition, such as a sexually transmitted disease or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Seek prompt medical care if you have unusually strong, persistent or bad vaginal odor. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have the following symptoms:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness

  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions

  • Dizziness

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or any bleeding with pregnancy

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Severe lower abdominal or back pain

What is vaginal odor?

A woman’s vagina normally has a mild odor, but inflammation or infection of the vagina or cervix can result in an unusually strong, persistent or bad vaginal smell that is often described as a fish-like odor.

Vaginal odor can result from a variety of conditions and diseases that include:


What causes vaginal odor?

Unusually strong or persistent vaginal odor can be caused by a variety of diseases, disorders or conditions that affect the vagina, cervix, and other reproductive organs. Vaginal odor is commonly caused by an infection or inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis) or cervix (cervicitis). Vaginitis and cervicitis can be caused... Read more about vaginal odorcauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.