Fish taco, tuna town, cod canal … should we go on? Boys can be really mean.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Your vagina should have a smell, regardless of what rude sexual partners or jerks on the playground might have told you in the past.
Several things make women feel more insecure than questioning herself whether they smell fresh down there or not, especially before getting handsy with their partner. The topic might be kept hush hush, but if you have a vagina, you know the issue very well.
If you are stressing out about whether your vagina smells on roses and daisies or on a seafood restaurant, we have answers for you.
There are several factors that might affect the way your intimate’s smells and we will get into those. However every vagina has its own smell. It is a combination of the normal bacteria that lives down there, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, how much you sweat, the level of your hygiene, and what your glands secrete. So, no two are identical!
Using a lot of soaps and crotch sprays and perfumes to frantically deodorize your vagina can interfere with its natural pH balance and will make her sad. As much as you may wish it to be true, vaginas are not supposed to smell like a flower garden.
Sara Gottfried, M.D., the author of The Hormone Cure, thinks women have unrealistic expectations about their scent. “There is so much shame around the normal range of what women smell like,” she said. “We are stuck with this mindset that women are expected to be nice, pretty and for their lady parts to smell really good, like some fake scent. Like you are going to smell like a gardenia. And that’s just going to make you miserable because that’s not the normal human scent.”
Yet neither is the smell of a fish taco. Somewhere in between is what is considered as normal. There are women who don’t have vaginal scent at all, while some naturally emit a stronger vaginal odor. So how will you tell if the smell of your lady parts is fine? Spend time getting familiar with your scent, so that when it changes, you will notice. The scent that signals when something is wrong is often accompanied by some other symptoms, including swelling, itching, discharge or pain while urinating.
Here are some smells you should look out for:
- Fishy scent
The idea that the vagina smells like fish might be something that grade school boys use to torment the girls in their class, however if you are noticing this smell, it might be the sign of a real medical problem. If you have an intense fishy smell down there,it can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which is an infection linked to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, or trichomoniasis – a mutual curable STI. These infections give off the fishy scent, sometimes with a gray or white discharge, and both of the infections can be cleared up with prescription antibiotics.
- Metallic scent
A metallic scent is frequent right after your period, or if you have let your partner’s tiny swimmers enter your vagina. These things can change the pH level of your vagina, thus changing the smell. The metallic scent will be temporary, but if you are noticing it long after the period is gone, consult your doctor.
- Yeasty / Bread scent
These infections often don’t give off a scent, but you will notice that something is wrong from other symptoms like thick, white discharge or itchiness. There are cases, when a yeast infection will emit a slightly musty, bread-like scent, letting you know that something is not ok down there. This smell will help you distinguish the yeast infection from the bacterial vaginosis or some other infections.
- Musky scent
If you are smelling a heavier and a slightly more musky version of your vagina’s usual scent, usually it means that you have been sweating a lot, or you were wearing pants or underwear that were tight with little breathing room. Washing your vagina with some mild soap and wearing looser clothing sometimes will get things back to normal, but this smell doesn’t mean that there is something medically wrong.
- Rotten scent
If your vagina suddenly smells on a bag of old trash, you should go to see your doctor ASAP. It might be a sign of a tampon gone astray – that happens way more often than you’d think. A tampon might get lodged near the top of the vagina, and it will stay there until you find it, therefore don’t worry, it won’t make its way to another part of your body.
Those 5 scents might be signs that something very important is going on down there, but there are also some other factors that can influence the scent of the vagina. “Many women notice after having their periods that there is a different odor,” Gottfried notes. Normally, the pH level of the vagina is lower than 4.7, which means it’s naturally on the acidic side of the scale. Having your period,menstrual blood has a pH level of 7.4, modifies the pH of the vagina, and it can change its scent. Semen has a pH of around 8,therefore having sex can also leave you with a slightly different smell.
Here are the good news ladies: it doesn’t take too much to keep your vagina balanced and clean. “The vagina is a self-cleaning oven,” explains Gottfried. It naturally excretes discharge to get bacteria and germs out of your body, so it does a pretty good job by keeping things clean without you needing to intervene. Douching will just mess with the vagina’s balance of bacteria. Generally, some warm water and gentle soap is everything you need to keep things fresh. If you are on the go, you may try a quick swipe with a pH-balanced, alcohol-free wipe.
One final and important piece of advice: say no to synthetic underwear. It traps in the odor and will make you sweat. Cotton is the perfect underwear. Give your friend downstairs a bit of breathing room in order to keep her healthy and happy and you two are going to get along just fine.