Why Does My Urine Smell Like Fish?

Taking more showers is not going to keep your urine from having a fishy smell. While fishy smelling urine is common in both men and women, it has nothing to do with personal hygiene. Under normal circumstances, your urine should be odorless and clear. Then why does it smell like fish? This may happen due to different reasons and underlying conditions.

Why does My Urine Smell Like Fish?

Fishy smelling urine is quite a common problem and it could be due to several underlying conditions. Here are the major causes and other symptoms you may experience with each condition. 

1. Trimethylaminuria

This rare genetic disorder causes a strong body odor, usually described as like garbage or rotting fish. You develop this disorder when your body fails to process a smelly chemical called trimethylamine. The chemical is produced in the gut, especially after you consume choline-rich foods. Once the chemical starts building up in your body, you will develop a strong odor in your urine, sweat, vaginal fluids, and saliva.

2. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Made up of the bladder, ureters, kidneys, and the urethra, the urinary system helps eliminate toxins and waste from your body. You may develop an infection when an infection causing pathogen enters your body through the bloodstream or the urethra. Due to the genital anatomy and the vagina being very close to the urethra and the anus, women are more likely to develop urinary tract infections as compared to men. You may develop certain symptoms such as cloudy urine, burning sensations when urinating, frequent urination, and urine that smells like fish.

3. Prostatitis

"Why does my urine smell like fish?" You ask. The answer may be that you have prostatitis or inflammation in the prostate gland. You may develop this condition due to bacterial infections, but it is usually difficult to pinpoint a cause. The most common symptoms of prostatitis include painful urination, discomfort in the pelvic region, and urine that smells like fish. Some people may also experience symptoms such as chills, frequent urination, nausea, fever, and urinary urgency.

4. Vaginitis

You develop this condition due to a fungal, yeast or bacterial infection. These naturally occurring pathogens do not cause any problem when their growth is in check, but overgrowth can cause symptoms such as painful urination, swelling of the vagina, vaginal discharge, painful vaginal intercourse, vaginal itchiness, and urine that smells like fish. What causes vaginitis in the first place helps determine the most effective treatment.

5. Kidney Stones

If you have stinky urine along with extreme pain in the lower back and groin region, this could be due to kidney stones. You develop kidney stones due to an increase in the levels of calcium and oxalate in urine. You may develop crystals first that convert into kidney stones over time. You usually experience pain when these stones or crystals get stuck in the ureters. Drinking plenty of water may help ease the symptoms, but surgery may be needed in severe cases.

6. Liver Problems

Several liver diseases can lead to liver dysfunction and cause fishy smelling urine. When your liver is healthy, it only releases little amounts of bilirubin into urine. Certain liver abnormalities may result in an increase in the amount of bilirubin into urine, which changes the odor of your urine. If your foul smelling urine is due to liver problems, you may also notice your urine becoming dark amber in color. The only way to resolve urine color and odor problems in this case is to treat the underlying liver disease first.

7. Dehydration

Sometimes, your foul-smelling urine is because of a problem as simple as dehydration. Not drinking enough water changes the color and odor of your urine, and it also affects the volume of urine output. When you are dehydrated, you pass highly concentrated urine that contains too much of ammonia and other toxins. You can resolve the issue by increasing your intake of water.

8. Food or Drink

Your urine may smell bad when you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages in excess. Caffeine is diuretic and leads to frequent urinate, which over time causes dehydration. When you are dehydrated, the color and odor of your urine will change considerably. Certain foods can also change the odor of your urine. Asparagus is a great example and it causes fishy smelling urine because it breaks down into sulfur. Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages and drink plenty of water to avoid having fishy smelling urine.

9. Diabetes

Why does my urine smell like fish? It could be because you have diabetes. People who have diabetes have high levels of blood glucose, which eventually goes into urine and then out of your body. This may be the reason why you notice fishy sweet-smelling pee. To resolve the issue, you need to work closely with your doctor for the proper management of your diabetes. You may also have to stick to a specific diet to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range.

10. Medications

Taking certain medications can change the odor of your urine. The most common culprits are amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, and some other antibiotics. You are more likely to experience the change in odor when taking large doses of these antibiotics for a short time. Similarly, taking multivitamin supplements can also lead to fishy smelling urine.


In case you fail to pinpoint the cause of your fishy smelling urine, you should go talk to your doctor. Do not ignore the change, especially if it lasts more than a day or so. The presence of other symptoms such as a fever, vomiting, back pain, vaginal discharge, and excessive thirst means you should seek immediate medical attention. 

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