Genitourinary system

Urine smells like fish or fishy smelling urine-17 Causes, 4 Treatments

Urine smells like fish, oh that sounds very irritating, isn’t it. Fishy smelling urine can make you very irritated and worried as to what is causing your problem. Fishy smelling urine can indicate many underlying conditions. Let us read on to know more about what is urine smelling fishy, what causes it, how to prevent fishy odor in urine and the measures to take to get rid of it.

Urine smells like fish or fishy smelling urine-What causes it:

urine smells like fish
Fishy smelling urine
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Urinary tract infection:

Urinary tract infections are more common in women than men as their urethra are short and facilitate the easy entry of bacteria like E.coli. Urinary tract infections can cause fishy smelling urine. There are many symptoms of urinary tract infection like:

  • Increased frequency of peeing
  • Feeling of urgency to go to washroom
  • Burning while urinating
  • Passing small amount of urine each time
  • Fishy smelling urine or urine smells like fish

If you don’t drink an adequate quantity of urine, or if you are sweating a lot due to any reason, you can become dehydrated. Also, if you pass lots of urine due to any disease like diabetes, you become dehydrated. Some drinks like caffeinated drinks can also cause dehydration.

If you are dehydrated, there is less amount of blood passing to the urine to be filtrated. Also, your kidneys try to conserve water by making the urine more concentrated to protect you from dehydration. Due to this, the increased concentration of the urine can cause urine smells like fish.


Some foods like asparagus, cabbage or Brussels sprouts release pungent chemicals into your urine causing fishy smelling urine. Some examples of pungent chemicals that these foods releases are sulfur, methyl mercaptan, etc.

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It is a metabolic disorder in which proteins cannot be properly broken down. So, if you consume protein-rich foods like eggs, meat, etc, they cannot be broken down properly, and instead, a substance called trimethylamine is release.  This Trimethylamine is release in the urine causing fishy smelling urine or urine smells like fish.

Bacterial vaginosis:

This is a condition caused by a protozoan parasite called Gardnerella vaginalis. It grows in the vagina when the pH of the vagina is disturbed. It causes many symptoms like:

  • Release of foul-smelling gray-white vaginal discharge
  • Release of this discharge in the urine causing urine smells like fish
  • Occasional vaginal bleeding
  • Discomfort or pain when urinating
  • Pain when having sexual intercourse

This type of vaginal infection in women is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It causes many symptoms like:

  • Genital itching or pruritus
  • Burning micturition or dysuria
  • Pain when having sexual intercourse
  • Foul smelling urine or fishy smelling urine
  • Yellowish green discharge from vagina

It is the bacterial infection of the prostate gland in males causing swelling or inflammation of the gland. It can cause many symptoms like  Burning urination

  • Blood in urine
  • Fever with chills
  • A low backache
  • Pain in the genital regions like testes, scrotum, etc
  • Difficulty in emptying the bladder or passing urine
Kidney stones:

A person can develop kidney stones or nephrolithiasis due to several triggers like foods that precipitate stone formation. Certain minerals like calcium oxalate form stones in the kidneys. They cause many symptoms along with urine smell like fish. They are:

  • Severe excruciating pain in the loin
  • Pain can move from loin to the groin area
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Red colored urine due to presence of blood in urine

Cystitis is the inflammation or swelling of the urinary bladder caused by urinary tract infections. It has symptoms similar to urinary tract infections. Symptoms of cystitis are:

  • Continuous feeling of urinating
  • Inability to completely empty the bladder when urinating
  • Passing few drops or small quantity of urine each time when urinating
  • Pain in the pelvic region of abdomen
  • Fever
  • Feeling discomfort and pressure in the pelvic region
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Liver problems:

Liver problems can be a cause of urine smell like fish, but it is very rare. If there is liver failure, the toxins that need o be cleared or detoxified by the liver are not detoxified and they are released in the urine. This can cause urine smell like fish or fishy smelling urine. The other symptoms of liver problems are:

  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark yellow colored urine
  • Yellow colored sclera or white of eyes due to jaundice

This is a disorder which is genetically inherited. In this condition, the amount of a substance called phenylalanine in the blood is raised. So, there is increased secretion of phenylalanine in the urine. This can make urine smell like fish. The symptoms of this condition are seen immediately in the first few months after a child is born. They are:

  • Having small head size than other kids of the age group
  • Impaired social skills
  • Impaired mental capabilities
  • Development of seizures and tremors

There are several nutritional supplements which change the smell of your urine and make the urine smell like fish. Also, certain antibiotics like amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin can cause fishy smelling urine.


Drinking beverages containing caffeine like tea, or coffee or hot chocolate more often makes you urinate more due to its diuretic action. This makes you dehydrated. This also increases makes your urine smell like fish.


In Diabetes, the insulin doesn’t act effectively on the cells, and the blood glucose or sugar level is high. This high blood glucose is released into the urine which makes the urine smell like fish.


Douching more frequently damages the pH balance of the genital region, and it also kills the healthy bacteria living in the genitals. So, douching more often increases your risk of contracting infections.


During ovulation also, there are many hormonal changes in the body of the woman, increasing the smell of the urine, also increasing the ability of the woman to smell the urine more than before.

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During pregnancy, there are many hormonal changes in the body of the pregnant woman. These changes of hormones can also make the urine of pregnant woman smell fishy. Also, pregnant women are more prone to develop urinary tract infections which make urine smell like fish.

Urine smells like fish or Fishy smelling urine Treatment:

Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes:

You need to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Tight fitting clothes will help in the growth of unwanted bacteria due to the accumulation of secretions, sweat, and lack of air passing through them. Wearing loose fitting clothes, and loose fitting undergarments.

Cranberry juice:

Drink cranberry juice regularly. This juice helps to clear the urinary infections. As urinary infections are also a cause of fishy smelling urine, you can get rid of these pungent smells by drinking cranberry juice.

Adequate hydration:

Drinking adequate water prevents dehydration which is one of the causes of developing urine smells like fish. Also, drinking sufficient water helps to get rid of urinary infections fast, and it also helps in expulsion of small-sized kidney stones.

Water mixed with baking soda:

Mix about a ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 3 liters of water. Then drink this water throughout the day. It helps to get back the acidic environment of the kidneys, and this helps to ward off urinary infections.

When to see a doctor for urine smells like fish:

You need to consult a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • If you are giving blood in urine
  • If you are having high fever
  • If you are having pain while urinating
  • If you are having nausea or vomiting
  • If you are having severe back pain
  • If you are having severe abdominal pain

You have seen all the possible causes of urine smells like fish, the treatment to take to get rid of these problems and also when to consult a doctor. Don’t delay in consulting your physician if you have any of these problematic symptoms.

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