The Vagina – Should It Smell This Way?
Before we start with the discussion lets, get one thing straight, vagina is supposed to have a smell, despite what rude sexual partners or all those companies that make weird crotch perfumes may have told you in the past.
This subject is not easy to get it open, most women are shy and insecure when they have problem like this. It’s not a favorite topic but if you have a vagina, you know the issue all too well.
If you are wondering whether your vagina smells like daisies and roses or a seafood restaurant, you will find the answers here.
There are numerous factors that affect the smell down there. Every women private place smells different due to combination of the normal bacteria that lives in your vagina, what you eat, what clothes you wear, your level of hygiene, how much you sweat, and what your glands secrete. So we come to a conclusion that no two vagina smell the same.
Too much perfumes, crotch sprays and perfumed soaps can affect the natural pH balance of the vagina. The vagina’s natural smell is just simply not made to be like a flower garden.
Sara Gottfried M.D. who is Author of “The Hormone Cure” is explaining that women don’t have realistic expectations about the smell of their private place. “There’s so much shame around the normal range of what women smell like,” she said. “We’re 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’re going to smell like a gardenia. And that’s just going to make you miserable because that’s not the normal human scent.”
Some women have no vaginal scent and other have stronger vaginal odor and in both cases the situation can be totally normal. A scent that signals something is wrong is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as itching, swelling, discharge or pain while urinating.
Here are a few smells you should look out for:
- Fishy Scent
But an intense fishy smell in your deep blue sea can be a sign of two common vaginal infections among young women: bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. Bacterial vaginosis is an infection linked to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. It is not an STI, though it can be triggered by sex with a new partner. Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI in America (though it can occasionally be contracted through nonsexual means). Both infections give off a fishy scent (and often, a white or gray discharge) as a symptom, and both can be cleared up easily with a course of prescription antibiotics.
Both can also present symptoms very similar to yeast infections, so in situations like this, checking out the unique smell is the key to diagnosing them properly (and not just treating them with some yeast infection medication that may temporarily mask the symptoms, but won’t clear the underlying infection up).
- METALLIC SCENT
This kind of scent is most likely to appear right after you had your period, or when insemination just took place. Both of these cases can change the pH of the vagina and result in a change of the smell. This kind of occurrence should be temporary and if it stays for a longer period of time, you should check your doctor.
- YEASTY / BREAD SCENT
In most cases Yeast infections don’t give off a scent, but other symptoms appear, such as thick, white discharge or itchiness. There are cases when a yeast infection will emit a slightly musty, bread-like odor and this will be an indication that something is wrong. This smell can help you distinguish a yeast infection from bacterial vaginosis or other infections.
- MUSKY SCENT
If there is a slightly muskier scent down there, that means you’ve been sweating a lot, or wearing under wear that is little too tight and there is not enough breathing room. In this case getting things back to normal can be easy. Just wash your vagina with mild soup and wear looser clothing. This kind of smell is not indicating that there is anything wrong.
- ROTTEN SCENT
If your vagina has a rotten smell you need to see your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of a tampon gone astray – which happens way more often than you’d think (check out this lost tampon question on Go Ask Alice). In this case the tampon will stay there until its pulled out. Your ob/gyn has definitely dealt with extracting a long-forgotten tampon before, so don’t be shy about setting up an appointment.
These 5 factors that we numbered are most likely reason something extra is going on down there. But as we mentioned the factors for a problem of this nature can be numerous. “Many women notice after having their periods that there is a different odor,” Gottfried notes. Normally, the pH of the vagina is below 4.7, meaning it’s naturally on the acidic side of the scale. Having your period — menstrual blood has a pH of 7.4 — alters the pH of the vagina, which can change it’s scent. Semen has a pH level of around 8, so having sex can also leave you with a different smell.
In general, some warm water and gentle soap is all you need to keep things smelling fresh. If you’re on the go, consider a quick swipe with a pH-balanced, alcohol-free wipe. And if there is something you suspect is not right please don’t be nervous about reaching out to a medical professional.
One more thing, try to avoid to synthetic underwear. It actually traps the odor and can trigger more sweating than usual. Cotton is the best choice. Make some comfortable breathing room downstairs to keep your vagina healthy.