Vaginal Odor – 6 Myths

Are you worried about the way your vagina smells? First of all, remember that because you are an actual human and not a plastic doll, your vagina will have its own scent. Vaginas have hordes of good bacteria called lactobacilli which fight infections and make your vagina slightly acidic. These bacteria are responsible for your vagina’s natural musky or tangy scent. It’s time, now, to address some of the myths about the way your vagina should smell. Here are the six biggest ones:

1.   Vaginal odor indicates vaginal contamination

This is not true at all! Mayo Clinic clarified that vaginal odor is influenced by a number of factors and can change daily. The change in vaginal smell is most commonly caused by menstruation. Since blood is coming out of the vagina, it will have a distinct smell.

The vagina’s smell also changes when you sweat or have sex. During intercourse, the vagina’s smell changes greatly. As each person’s genitalia has a unique smell, mixing the scents during sex will lead to a new, different smell. Last but not the least, sweating when you are physically active, such as during sex or exercise, can cause your vagina to smell different.

2.   Vaginas should have a fruity smell

Your vagina is not supposed to smell like raspberries, roses, or coconut. Expecting your vagina to smell like fruit not only crushes your self-confidence but also hurts your health. Douches and harsh vaginal chemicals can cause an imbalance in the normal vaginal chemistry, causing more harm than good. Just the way all humans are different, no two vaginas smell the same either. The scent of your vagina will change throughout your menstrual cycle, during menopause, and during pregnancy. However, if you are experiencing a fishy/foul odor, you may have an infection so you should talk to a doctor.

3.   Healthy vaginas do not have a discharge

A clear white vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. It may or may not have a slight odor. This discharge ensures that the vagina does not become too dry or acquire an infection.

A change in the amount of discharge, its color, or its consistency can, however, be indicative of an infection. If you have these and other symptoms, such as itchiness, a burning sensation, or pelvic pain, immediately talk to your gynecologist.

4.   Your food changes your vagina’s smell

You might have heard that eating pineapples can give your vagina a sweet smell. Like most stuff online, this has no evidentiary support, except claims by a few people on Reddit or Pinterest. Scientifically speaking, eating any specific kind of food does not change your vagina’s scent. However, foods with strong smells, such as onions, change the smell of your body fluids and sweat, which may make you smell different down there too.

5.   A clean vagina has a pleasant smell

This is probably the most commonly believed myth. A pleasant-smelling vagina does not exist in the real world. Many people of both genders associate pleasant smells with being feminine. They expect women to smell great everywhere. That simply cannot happen. Vaginas are simply vaginas, not scented candles. Biological parts of the body cannot have specific smells like that.

6.   Baby wipes are your vagina’s best friend

Female hygiene ads claiming to restore freshness to your vagina are everywhere. These ads spread the false message that vulvas and vaginas are inherently dirty. These products can be harmful and sometimes contain allergens and irritants. Even the alcohol-free and chemical-free wipes often contain preservatives that can damage your skin. A study showed that women who use these products are three times more likely to acquire vaginal infections than women who do not use such products.

What does a normal vagina smell like then?

Healthy vaginas simply smell like vaginas, not like a field of lilies and lavender; in fact, a smell like that is indicative of a problem. Even if you use Vaginal Probiotics regularly, Vaginas do their jobs keeping themselves clean which may make you wonder what the discharge is all about. Well, vaginal discharge, or fluid, is completely normal and signifies that the vagina is cleaning itself. This discharge is supposed to lubricate the vagina; since it is a very elastic muscle – stretching to as much as 200% of its normal size – it can sometimes get itchy or dry.

The amount of discharge varies from person to person and is normally clear and white (slightly yellow after drying). It normally has an odor that is different in different people and changes in color and thickness throughout the month. If you want to understand your body better, keeping an eye on and understanding the patterns of color, amount, and thickness of your vaginal fluid can help.

When taking a shower, you don’t need to put anything inside the vagina to clean it. Body washes, douches, scented tampons, and dirty toys/fingers all have the potential to disrupt the normal vaginal flora by changing the pH of the vagina. This increases susceptibility to yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and bacterial vaginosis.

However, if your vagina has an abnormal foul odor, such as a yeast-like or fishy smell, you should consider consulting a healthcare provider to find out what the problem is.