A vagina must have a smell. Basically all bodily fluids smell like something.
But while how your smell down there can depend on your daily activities and your diet, some of the smells emanating from your panties may be indicative of a health problem.
Dr Wider outlined to Cosmopolitan the types of smell you should keep tabs on, so you can tell the difference between totally normal and not okay.
A musky scent that smells just like a heavier version of your vagina’s usual scent typically means that you’ve been sweating a lot, or wearing too-tight pants or synthetic fiber underwear – both of which can prevent skin from “breathing,” and thus lead to a stronger-than-usual scent, says Bustle Magazine’s Gabrielle Moss.
For instance, after a super intense spin class, your hoo-ha may have a stronger, musky smell from the surrounding sweat glands—which Dr Wider says is 100 per cent normal.
Washing your funky bunch (of vulva) with some mild soap, and changing out of your skinny jeans every once in a while should fix things up if you find this scent to be a little too strong.
If your lady flower gives off a strong, foul odor, it may be the sign of an infection.
For example, bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and upsets the delicate PH balance of the vagina, causing an increase in discharge and a strong fishy odor that increases after sex.
Dr Wider says: “A foul odor with green discharge typically indicates trichomoniasis, an STD. So, if you just don’t smell right, trust your instinct and see your doctor.”
Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine told Cosmopolitan anything scented, such as soap, tampons, body wash and wipes when used on vagina is ‘an infection waiting to happen.’
“The chemicals that alter the smell of your vagina can also alter the vagina’s pH balance, boosting the growth of bad bacteria and yeast.”
Your vagina might smell differently depending on the lubricants you’ve used during sex and whether or not you’ve used a condom.
Typically, most women describe the smell as “chlorine-like or bleachy” and Dr Wider says it’s nothing to be worried about.
Dr Wider divulges that there’s normally a small amount of yeast in your vagina.
Yeast infections, she says occur when there’s an overgrowth.
Often, yeast infections don’t have any scent at all, and so you’ll realize that you have them from their other symptoms – white, thick discharge; itchiness.
But in some cases, your yeastified bits will emit a faint bread-like odor.
Smell will never be your only symptom with a yeast infection; but it can help you distinguish it from bacterial vaginosis or other infections that will similarly irritate your vagina.
What you eat can also make your vagina smell differently.
Dr Wider says Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit have been known to sweeten the smell and taste of vaginal fluids.
On the other hand, onions, garlic, broccoli, and asparagus can cause what some describe as an “unpleasant” odor and taste.
If your vagina habitually has a sweet scent, kneel down and thank your creator and keep eating what you’ve been eating.
- Rotten scent
Bustle’s Gabrielle Moss adds: “If your vagina suddenly takes on an intense rotten smell, get in touch with your ob/gyn immediately.”
It’s definitely not healthy, and could be a sign of a tampon gone astray in your vagina during your last period, which happens way more often than you’d think.
Your gynecologist has definitely dealt with extracting a long-forgotten tampon before, so don’t be shy about setting up an appointment.”
Dr Wider says: “If you notice you constantly smell a bit off (like the scent of blood) during that time of the month, it’s typically nothing to be alarmed about.”
“When you have your period, the blood can mix with the natural state of a healthy vagina and give off a different—but normal—smell.”
A metallic scent coming off your blue sea is most common right after you’ve had your period, or had some intimate contact with semen — both can change the pH of the usually-acidic vagina into something more basic; thus, differently scented.
In both cases, the metallic scent should be temporary.
If it persists long after your period is gone, despite the fact that you haven’t had unprotected sex any time recently — and especially if it is accompanied by any itching or discharge — check in with your doctor.
Don’t be shy about booking an appointment with your gynecologist about any of these issues.
These are all really run-of-the-mill gynecological problems, and your doctor won’t be disgusted with you.