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Malodorous Urine

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Hey guys, today I'm going to discuss a topic that I received when I polled you all on Instagram. The young lady wanted to know about fishy urine, which I think is an issue most people experience at some point in their lives. There are numerous reasons why your urine may have a fishy or foul odor, but I'm going to discuss the most common, as well as some tips for avoiding that smell. As always, follow up with your individual healthcare provider since everyone's situation will be different, but this is a general guide to help. Here are some common causes of malodorous urine.


When you're dehydrated, your urine is definitely going to show you in terms of how it looks and how it smells. Dehydration prevents the kidneys from functioning normally, as there is less water to dilute the concentrations of chemicals. Your urine will be bright yellow and have a strong smell.

How to fix: This one is simple, drink more water! You want to aim for at least 80 ounces of water a day, and you'll start to notice when you're hydrated as your urine will appear more clear and not have as strong of a smell. Here is a water bottle that can help you get in your daily water intake.

Certain Foods

Believe it or not, eating a lot of fish can give your urine a fishy smell. So can a lot of caffeine, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

How to fix: If you drink enough water, this can help to dilute those strong odors. Also, limit caffeine intake. Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and fish are good for you so continue to eat those; just make sure you're staying hydrated.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A UTI can definitely give your urine a foul smell, as well as discomfort with urination, urinary frequency, cloudy or bloody urine, and lower abdominal or back pain.

How to fix: If you suspect a UTI, you should always follow up with your health care provider for a urinalysis and culture. If needed, your provider will prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. Great ways to avoid a UTI include staying hydrated (are you noticing a pattern here?), using the restroom or showering after sex, and not holding your bladder for prolonged periods of time.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

We talked about BV a few weeks ago in this blog post. One of the main symptoms of BV is a strong fishy smell. It's caused by an imbalance of your normal vaginal pH. With BV, the smell is really coming from the vagina, but may be more noticeable when you urinate.

How to fix: If you experience abnormal discharge with a foul odor, follow up with your healthcare provider for a culture. If needed, they will prescribe antibiotics. You can avoid BV by using unscented soap, being monogamous, changing out of wet clothes immediately, and using probiotics or prebiotic vaginal suppositories.

Trichomoniasis (Trich)

We also discussed Trich in this blog post. It's a sexually transmitted disease that can cause abnormal discharge, a fishy smell, discomfort with urination, and vaginal irritation. However, 70% of people with Trich never have any symptoms.

How to fix: Definitely follow up with your provider right away for a culture and treatment with antibiotics. You can avoid Trich by using condoms consistently and being monogamous.


Cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder, can occur from an untreated UTI. Similar to a UTI, you may have foul smelling urine, cloudy or bloody urine, urinary frequency, burning during urination, urinary urgency, pelvic discomfort, and a fever.

How to fix: Follow up with your provider immediately for evaluation and treatment with antibiotics. It's important to seek care quickly because you do not want the infection to travel to your kidneys. Make sure you stay hydrated, and you can use a heating pad for discomfort.

There are many more reasons why someone would experience foul smelling urine, but these are some of the most common. Always check with your healthcare provider to ensure there isn't a serious underlying issue that could become worse if left untreated. If this resource helped you, definitely feel free to share with others.

xoxo, Global Midwife

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, only education. Always check with your healthcare provider.


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