vaginal smellA lot of women feel self-conscious about the way they smell “down there,” and we’re here to set the record straight. Every woman has her own natural scent, just like every vulva and vagina is unique, and we’ll discuss that below. However, an unpleasant vaginal odor is among one of the most common signs that something is wrong.

So pay attention to the way you smell because it’s not just about getting your man to go down on you. A strong, fish odor, for example, means you should talk to your doctor sooner rather than later!

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Everyone Has Their Own Feminine Odor

stinky vaginal discharge

Everyone’s body has its own scent. When clean, it’s probably neutral, or you may even find your feminine odor pleasant. It may be a turn-on for your man just like some women love a man’s musky odor after he’s been working out at the gym or sweating under the hot sun all day. This natural odor may be stronger or weaker for some women, and it certainly won’t be the same for everyone.

The way you smell can be affected by your diet, exercise and products you use to cleanse and care for your body. For example, eating a lot of citrus fruits can make you smell sweet, which is one reason why we recommend guys eat pineapple to improve the taste of their semen. But you or your man may not find your scent to be enjoyable if you’ve been eating a lot of garlic, broccoli or asparagus.

It’s important to remember that some vaginal odor isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and you shouldn’t feel self conscious as long as you’re dealing with the typical smell. If you’ve never taken time to get used to the way you look and smell, you might feel more confident if you use a small hand mirror to check out your vulva and vagina. Make sure you’re relaxed and that no one will walk in on you, of course. Feel free to smell or taste yourself on your fingers if it makes you feel better, but you don’t have to.

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Check out this post about sexual anxiety if you want to feel more better about how your body looks, feels and smells when you’re getting down with your man.

Many men will enjoy the way you smell – and taste – naturally, and you shouldn’t stay with anyone who makes you feel bad about the way you smell as long as you’re conscientious about hygiene. Chances are, you focus more on the way you smell than he does, which is true of everyone. We can all be a little self conscious!

If he’s just being emotionally abusive, the right question to ask might not be “Why does my vagina smell?” Instead, you might want to focus in improving your relationship or considering whether to break up on him.

Why Does My Vagina Smell?

Although a slight smell is normal, according to the Mayo Clinic, a strong smell may be indicative of a problem. This is especially true if it’s the stereotypical “fishy” smell and you also experience a rash, itching or other irritation. You should consult your doctor whenever your experience a change in feminine odor. It may be a side effect of having an infection, known as bacterial vaginosis. Learn more about BV in this article.

If you experience discharge like cottage cheese in addiction to a foul feminine odor, you may be dealing with a yeast infection. Yeast infections are common, and you can learn all about them here.  In some cases, vaginal odor may be a symptom of some STIs. If you think you’ve contracted an infection from a sexual partner, consult your doctor if you have any STI symptoms. Trichomoniasis is especially known for causing that fishy smell.

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for BV and STIs such as trich, and antifungal medication for a yeast infection. One home remedy to cure infections and reduce vaginal odor is to use yogurt. You’ll want to eat plain yogurt daily. Some women even soak a tampon in yogurt to use like a suppository to help fight against yeast infections and odor.

The Mayo Clinic does list three causes of unpleasant feminine odor that are less common: Rectovaginal fistula, cervical cancer and vaginal cancer. While it’s less likely that you’ll have one of these problems, seeking medical attention can rule them out because these conditions can wreak havoc far worse than causing a smelly vagina.

Personal Hygiene and Vaginal Odor

vaginal odor

However, strong vaginal odor might not mean that something serious is wrong. For example, you’ll notice your vagina emits a stronger smell on hot days or after a lot of exercise when you’ve been sweating. Wearing underwear, pantyhose and pants made out of synthetic fibers can contribute to the smell of your vaginal because these materials don’t allow your vulva to breathe.

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Make sure all panties have at least a cotton patch to absorb moisture and improve breathability; however, pure cotton undies are the best to keep air flowing and to minimize any feminine odor. Stick to as few layers as possible on hot summer days. Finally, it’s a good idea to change out of any clothes and shower after sweating.

The products you use to cleanse your body may be helping or hindering when it comes to the way your body smells. You’ll want to cleanse your vulva, which includes your labia (lips) and vaginal opening – more on female anatomy – with a gentle soap that isn’t scented. Rinse well, using your hand to rinse in and around the folds. Dry thoroughly before putting on your clothes.

Some companies, including System Jo, make products to help with vaginal odor by keeping you dry all day long. You’ll also find sprays and wipes you can safely use before oral sex to improve the way you smell and taste if you’re worried that this will stop your man from going down on you. These products are intended for use around your vulva and not inside your vagina.

When it comes to keep your vagina clean, you don’t want to do more than rinse with clean water. Using a cleansing product that is scented or contains chemicals can mess with your vagina’s natural pH balance, which can actually contribute to unpleasant scents or infections. In fact, while vaginal douches are marketed towards women, they’re generally unhealthy for your body. Source.

Don’t buy into the marketing. Douching can increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy complications and even cervical cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Beware that using condoms or personal lubes, which you should use often, can lead your vagina smell differently than normal, but this is a temporary. Some women report this scent as being like chlorine or bleach. Using a condom is important because it can reduce the risk of developing a bacterial infection, transmitting a yeast infection or upsetting your vaginal pH, all of which can lead to odor.

Of course, it’s always wise to pay attention to your body’s signs of poor health, and vaginal odor is among those. But you can also find yourself more confident in and out of the bedroom and encouraging your man to go down on you when you take care of what might be causing vaginal odor.

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