I am not sure what there seems to be more of, products to cover up your vaginal odor or blogs about how your vagina “should” smell.
Google anything about vaginal odor and you will be flooded with information. But some of the terminology and descriptions can get confusing, too medical, and can give women false ideas about what their odor truly means.
Women are wasting too much time and money worried about what their partner is going to think of how their vagina smells.
No vagina is odorless. It is an area that accumulates sweat and remains covered all day...and for most women at night too.
Of course, it is not going to smell like perfume or a fresh ocean breeze.
But using products (wipes, scented soaps, steams, Vicks VapoRub…ya, you read that right) can be dangerous and harmful to you and your vagina.
I broke down the 7 main vaginal odors to keep a nose out for, with everyday descriptions to simplify all the information that’s out there and help you understand what your vagina is trying to tell you.
If you would describe your vaginal odor as fermented fruit or kind of sour, this means your vagina has become mildly acidic. A little acidity actually protects you from the bad kinds of bacteria that can be found in your vagina (goodbye yeast infection).
If your peach smells like it was sliced and has been on the counter for too long, thank your vagina for taking care of you!
If your vagina kind of smells like a penny…it’s probably blood.
Now, that could mean a few things. This could be from your period, sexual activity that did not have enough lubrication or was vigorous and caused some tearing, or if your vagina has recently come in contact with semen.
I would only be concerned about this odor if there is no sign of blood, you haven’t had your period recently and you’ve had no interaction with semen. At this point, I would recommend scheduling an appointment with a health care provider to discuss further.
3. Sweaty and B.O.
Believe it or not, your vagina sweats and you may smell that sweat, especially after the gym or a long weekend away camping with no showers.
If the odor changes or becomes more potent, it may be stress because of the way our bodies respond to anxiety (like stress sweat, but for your vagina) or due to the hormonal fluctuations you’re experiencing during your cycle.
This sweet smell could be like syrup, or a natural sweetness.
I have nothing else to tell you other than your vagina smells sweet. There could be a change in your pH levels, or maybe some vaginal bacteria, but a sweet smelling vagina is nothing you need to be concerned about.
When I say chemical, I’m referring to a scent that reminds you of cleaning products, like ammonia or bleach.
This could be a sign of dehydration. Your urine may have a high concentration of ammonia causing this odor. Drink lots of water, use a gentle soap and gently wash the outer part of your vulva, and change your panties ;)
Another thing that could cause this odor is bacterial vaginosis (or BV). Typically, BV is described as more of a fishy smell, but women have described the odor as chemical. Other symptoms to look out for are itching, grey, white or green discharge and burning while you pee. If you suspect you may have BV, follow up with your health care provider.
If you are experiencing a fishy odor, it’s time to get your health care provider involved and book an appointment to discuss.
A few things could be causing this odor, such as bacterial vaginosis (an overgrowth of bacteria), an STI (like trichomoniasis) or another condition.
When was the last time you had your period?
If you smell something rotten, it might be a tampon that was forgotten about. It happens a lot more often than you think!
Your vaginal and sexual health is important. Proper hygiene and knowing what to smell for is how you can take control of your own health and body to make confident decisions with a partner or at the doctor’s office. I am determined to educate women on their sexual health and how to advocate for their own sexual needs.
If you are looking to learn more about your sexual health and anything vagina-related that you’ve been embarrassed to talk to a professional about, now is the time. Sign up for the newsletter to learn more about your sexual health and get free sex tips.