Your vagina is unique and unlike any other. It has its own distinct look, feel, taste, and yes, smell.

When it comes to vaginal odor, many women shy away from this topic, perhaps out of embarrassment surrounding whether or not their odor is “normal”. If you are like this, this article will be very beneficial to you.

Here, you will learn a lot about your vagina with regards to what it should smell like, along with factors which can affect the smell and how you can improve it.

Let’s get started.


What should your  vagina smell like?

The short answer is vagina and not flowers.

The first thing you should know is that your vagina smells normal, or as “good” as a vagina can smell. Sure, you might prefer if it had smelled like that Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Wash that you love oh so much, but this is simply not natural. But no vagina on this planet naturally smells like a flower garden.

A healthy vagina can have several different odors. People have described the vaginal odor as being musky or fleshy, tangy or fermented, sweet like molasses, a bit coppery or metallic and even earthy. The smell will vary throughout your cycle, but as long as it is not fishy or extremely off-putting, then you smell just fine.

With that being said, let’s look at some of the factors which affect the way your vagina smells.

What affects the smell?

The vagina does not smell the same throughout your life, or even throughout your day. The way it smells depends on various factors as it responds to changes in your diet, environment, and body.

Some of these factors include:


Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat?”. Well, it is very true because what you eat has a pretty big impact on what goes on down there.  Certain foods such as garlic, asparagus, and onions can affect the way you taste and smell. Others such as sugary foods, coffee, refined carbs, and cheese can increase your chances of getting a yeast infection which can also affect your smell.

On the other hand, drinking a lot of water, cranberry juices and yogurt can help to neutralize odor and make you smell and taste great.


After having vaginal sex, have you ever noticed that down there smells a little different, especially if he ejaculated inside of you?

Well, that is because semen has a higher pH than the vagina and this will temporarily throw off the vagina’s pH. If you used a latex condom, it will also have a noticeable short-term effect on the way your vagina smells. This coupled with sweat and all the fluids associated with sex will make your vagina smell different from how it usually does. Rough sex can also cause a smell due to tears and inflammation it may cause.

Since everyone’s habits and pH is different sex with a new partner can have similar effects. This is due to the introduction of a new bodily fluids mixing with your own bodily fluids.. The same goes for sex with a new female partner, if you happen to share sex toys and vaginal fluids mix.


While breaking a sweat in the gym can be great for your body, it can affect the way your vagina smells. The same goes for wearing tight clothing, especially on a very hot day.

This can make your entire vaginal region musky and give you that smell you were wondering about.

Menstrual cycle

When you are on your period, you will notice that your vagina has a metallic smell. This is due to the iron present in your blood. This might linger for a few days after bleeding stops but should go away pretty soon after.

Soaps and detergents

While these were intended to keep your clothes and body smelling great, they can do your vagina a discredit.

For one, they can cause irritation which can lead to unpleasant vaginal odor. And though not scientifically proven, changing bath products can change the way your vagina smells

Why does it smell so bad?

If you are still convinced your vagina smells bad, even after all this, then there might actually be something wrong. Some causes of unpleasant vaginal odor include:


There are several vaginal infections which can lead to unpleasant vaginal odor. The most common include:

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis is a pretty common bacterial infection which affects mainly women between the ages of 15-44.

This infection is caused by an imbalance of the number of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the vagina. When good bacteria levels, such as lactobacillus, decline, this allows bad bacteria to flourish which causes an unpleasant or fishy odor, abnormal discharge, painful sex, and irritation.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection is another popular infection that affects 3 in 4 women at least once in her lifetime. Unlike bacterial vaginosis, this infection is caused by a fungus named candida. This fungus occurs naturally in the vagina under controlled conditions.

When these conditions are altered, causing an imbalance in pH levels or by killing off bacteria responsible for keeping it in check, there is an overgrowth of the fungus.

This causes painful sex and urination, vulvar irritation and thick, cottage-cheese looking, foul discharge.


Trichomoniasis or “trich” is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a protozoan parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. It can be passed from man to woman/woman to man and from woman to woman.

Symptoms of this infection include itching, burning, and soreness of the genitals, discomfort with urination, and abnormal, fishy-smelling discharge. Only prescribed medications can fix this problem. Therefore you need to see you doctor.


Certain gynecological cancers, such as cervical cancer and vaginal cancer can cause abnormal discharge with foul smells.

Poor hygiene

Having poor hygiene is bound to make anything smell bad and your vagina is no different. For starters, not washing the vulvar region can lead to pretty bad odors, and can even lead to infections which lead to bad odor. Wearing dirty underwear, and having pubic hair which traps sweat, can also contribute to unpleasant smells.

Though not as common as the aforementioned causes of bad vaginal odor, rectovaginal fistula could be a culprit if you have been injured during childbirth, have had an inflammatory bowel disease or have had radiation treatment or cancer in the pelvic region. In this instance, fecal matter and gas may pass through the vagina.  

Tips and tricks to improve the smell

Now it’s time for some good news. Bad vaginal odor doesn’t last forever and there are many things you can do to improve the smell.

Here are a few tips and tricks:


This is probably the quickest solution to vaginal odor issues.

Start by washing the vulva with warm water and mild soap. Do not use a rag or a loofah as these can cause cuts and tears from scrubbing too hard. Instead, use your fingers to gently cleanse the area and be sure to lift the labia and clean underneath them.

Under no circumstance should the soap or water enter your vagina. The vagina will clean itself. Your only concern is the outer regions.

If you have pubic hair, you have the option of shaving it or leaving intact. While pubic hair can trap sweat and odor, making your genitals smell funky, they also protect the vagina from infection and traps any debris that could get inside. Using soap and water to clean your pubes at least daily should and as necessary should be enough to keep it smelling pleasant.

Dry the vagina thoroughly after your shower, either by air drying or with your towel. Wear loose, breathable clothes and underwear. 

If you sweat a lot or have urinary incontinence, you should also change your underwear at least twice a day, especially in the hotter months, as vaginal discharge and sweat can build up and cause odor or infection. If you live in colder climates where you rarely become sweaty, you can get away with changing your underwear only once. Just be sure to wear pantyliners and change them every 4-6 hours.

If you feel the need to use a deodorizing product, make sure it is not one that needed to be inserted into the vagina. You can also use mildly scented perfumes on your hips and between your thighs for when you have a date.

Safe Sex Is Great Sex

If you use sex toys during sex, make sure they are clean to prevent infection. If you had previously used foods such as chocolate syrup and whipped cream, please stop. Those can cause infections which can make your vagina smell.

Be sure to talk to your partner about your vaginal health and how his semen can affect your vagina. Advise him to use a condom, or pull out when he is about to ejaculate.

After sex, pee and do pericare. Your vagina will thank you for it.

You Smell Like What You Eat

If your diet is heavy in sugars, and other foods such as onions that we talked about previously that can affect vaginal odor negatively, then cut back on them. Try to drink more water and eat more fresh fruits and veggies. You can also up your yogurt and nut intake.

Prescription treatments

If your issue is an infection than you should see you doctor. Once the infection is gone, your vagina should go back to smelling like normal.

Final thought

When it comes to vaginal care, you really don’t have to do much as it takes care of much of the cleaning itself. Just don’t do anything that will upset that process and you will be fine. You might be tempted to douche but couching can cause more harm than good because it will wash away the good bacteria that is supposed to stay in your vagina and keep it healthy. With the good bacteria gone the bad bacteria will take over.

Your vagina is yours, and yours alone to look after. It is a treasure and you must treat it as such.


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