A healthy vagina smells like a variety of things, but not flowers.
Yes, we’ve seen those scented tampons advertisements as well. And it appears to us that all of that beautiful brightness is yet another instance of the world getting vaginal wrong.
Simply make a short trip to your neighborhood pharmacy. You’ll notice a wall lined with products that claim to conceal the way your vagina smells naturally. As with douching. Widely recognized by the medical world as being detrimental to the natural balance of vaginal flora, this often used instrument for vaginal cleaning may potentially promote bacterial vaginosis.
The internet even advised using Vicks VapoRub as a do-it-yourself remedy for vaginal odors last year.
The fact is that your vagina is a breeding ground for billions of germs. And the specific composition of these bacteria varies regularly – perhaps hourly.
It is natural for things to change. These scent changes are most likely caused by your menstrual cycle, your cleanliness practices, or simply by you being you.
Additionally, given the groin’s concentration of sweat glands, is it really a surprise that your vagina is not odorless?
We contacted Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, an expert in women’s health with over 30 years of expertise. She assisted us in getting to the point with all of the medical precision but less of the medical verbiage.
This is a medically correct description of vaginal odor.
1. Fermented or Acidic
Vaginal discharge frequently has an acidic or sour scent. It has been compared to the scent of fermented foods by others. Indeed, yogurt, sourdough bread, and some sour beers all contain the same sort of beneficial bacteria found in the majority of healthy vaginal tracts: lactobacilli.
If it has an uncanny resemblance to the sour IPA you enjoyed last weekend, do not panic.
2. Coppery in the way that a penny is coppery
Numerous individuals describe smelling a coppery, metallic vaginal odor. This is typically not a cause for alarm. Occasionally, it is indicative of a more serious issue.
Coppery odors can also be caused by less frequent but potentially severe causes of vaginal hemorrhage. The metallic odor should dissipate quickly after your menstruation is ended. If your vagina has come into touch with semen, the pH level may be altered, resulting in a metallic odor.
If you experience bleeding that is not connected to your period or if the metallic odor persists along with itching and discharge, it is advisable to consult a physician.
3. Sweetness reminiscent of molasses
When we say sweet, we are not referring to freshly made cookies. We’re talking about strong and earthy. However, there is no reason to be concerned about a sweetish tint.
4. Chemical, reminiscent of a freshly cleaned bathroom,
A bleach or ammonia-like stench might indicate a number of different problems. Occasionally, this odor is cause for concern and should be addressed by a physician.
Bacterial vaginosis is a very prevalent illness. Symptoms include the following:
- A disagreeable or fishy odor
- Discharge of a thin gray, white, or green color.
- Itching in the vaginal area
- I have a burning sensation when urinating.
5. It smells skunky, similar to BO, or burnt herbal and earthy.
No, you are not alone. Numerous individuals see parallels between body odor and marijuana. Regrettably, there is no satisfactory scientific explanation for this, but Vice made an attempt. However, owing to the sweat glands located below, we now understand why vaginal and body odor may smell so similar.
When a person is nervous or agitated, the apocrine glands release a milky fluid. This fluid is odorless on its own. However, when this fluid comes into touch with the profusion of vaginal bacteria on your vulva, it might emit a strong odor.
6. Fishy or that misplaced fillet?
You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “fishy” used to describe an odd vaginal odor. Indeed, fresh fish should have no odor at all. The more accurate parallel is decomposing fish. Why? Trimethylamine is the chemical component that gives decaying fish its characteristic fragrance as well as various odd vaginal smells.
In rare instances, a fishy odor may indicate a more serious problem.
7. Rotten in the way that a rotting organism would.
A foul odor that causes your nose to grimace and your face to twist is most emphatically not normal. If the odor is terrible, as if it came from a dead creature, it may not be your vagina, but something in it.
Fortunately, Minkin notes that it is completely safe to manually remove a misplaced tampon.
When you should consult a physician
By and large, aberrant smells should be easily detectable. They are the ones that cause you to scrunch up your face. Rotten fish, decomposing organisms, and rotting are all red flag smells.
If there is a significant underlying reason, other symptoms frequently manifest alongside the scent.
Smells change, and that’s perfectly normal.
Subtle changes in the smell of your vaginal area are typical. Bear in mind that the way your vagina smells is entirely dependent on its pH. Additionally, there are several factors that influence your pH.
Consider penile vaginal sex. Because sperm has a somewhat high pH, it’s quite natural to experience a distinct aroma following penile vaginal intercourse. However, do not be alarmed; this adjustment is only temporary.
Menopause also has an influence on the pH of the vaginal fluid. “As a result of a lack of estrogen, women going through menopause develop less vaginal mucosa,” Minkin explains. “The vaginal mucosa lines the vagina and provides nourishment for the Lactobacilli bacteria. Thus, in the absence of these cells, you might end up with a significantly higher pH.”
Our recommendation? Do not be scared to get to know your vagina in all her aromatic splendor. The more familiar you are with the scents your vagina generates on a daily basis, the more prepared you will be when something goes wrong. After all, the vaginal organs provide several amazing functions for humans. It’s past time we began to comprehend what they’re truly about.