How Should the Vagina Smell?
Many mistakenly think that vaginal odor is a sign of an unhealthy vagina. Many women even become insecure when their partners complain about this problem.
Yet, the reality is not like that.
The vagina is the most sophisticated and independent part of the body.
In the process, the vagina secretes a fluid which we often refer to as “vaginal discharge”. This vaginal discharge is the way the vagina cleans itself.
The vaginal microbiota, or vaginal flora as it is known in the medical world, works to keep the pH of your vagina at 4.5, or slightly acidic. It also causes the vaginal odor to be slightly sour, or there may be a musty smell because it is mixed with sweat.
Reporting from the Alodokter.com site,
“Basically, there are two types of bacteria in the vagina, namely good bacteria and bad bacteria. Good bacteria are Lactobacillus bacteria which function to limit the growth of bad bacteria by maintaining a normal pH or acidity level in the vagina. These bacteria dominate the number of bacteria in the vagina at about 95%.”
Therefore, the sour smell released by the vagina is similar to the smell of fermented foods such as yogurt.
In a blog post on WebMD, Dr. Heather Rupe says you can smell vaginal scent from 30 centimeters away and that’s normal!
You are what you eat, and it turns out that your vagina will smell like what you eat.
Recently, some women have given testimonials on the website Reddit saying that when they eat onions or garlic, their vulva has the same smell and that’s normal.
Even though there may be a scent on your vaginal discharge, the resulting scent of onion is most likely coming from your urethra as these foods also make your pee smell like that.
The groin itself contains a collection of sweat glands, isn’t it natural to smell a little?
The following is an accurate medical guide according to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin who has more than 30 years experience working in the field of women’s health.
- Fermented smell
It is very common for the vagina to produce a strong or sour aroma.
Some compare it to the smell of fermented food.
In fact, yogurt, sourdough bread, and even some sour beers contain the same kind of good bacteria that dominates most healthy vaginas: Lactobacilli.
The reason is acidity. A healthy vaginal pH is slightly acidic, between 3.8 and 4.5.
Lactobacilli bacteria keep the vagina acidic to protect against overgrowth of bad bacteria.
- Scent of copper
If at any time your vagina smells like coppery metal, it’s usually because:
- Blood contains iron which has a metallic smell. The most common cause of blood is menstruation.
- Light bleeding after sex can be common. This is usually due to vaginal dryness or hard sex which can cause minor cuts or scrapes. To prevent this, try using lubricants.
The metallic scent won’t last too long after your period ends.
If your vagina comes into contact with semen, this can change the pH level and cause a metallic odor.
If you experience bleeding unrelated to menstruation or the metallic smell persists with itching and discharge, it’s best to see a doctor.
- Scent such as porcelain or bleach
This pungent smell is usually caused by urine.
Urine contains a byproduct of ammonia called urea.
The buildup of urine on your underwear or around your vulva can eliminate chemical odors. Keep in mind, urine that smells of strong ammonia is a sign of dehydration.
Besides that, a chemical odor may also be a sign of bacterial vaginosis.
- Smell of Smoke Herbs
There is no scientific explanation for this scent. However, usually the cause of this scent is due to emotional stress. Your body contains two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine.
The eccrine glands produce sweat to cool your body, and the apocrine glands respond to your emotions.
These apocrine glands fill your armpits and groin.
When you are stressed or anxious, the apocrine glands produce a fluid like milk.
This liquid itself is odorless. But when this discharge hits the large number of vaginal bacteria on your vulva, it can produce a pungent scent.
- Fishy smell
The cause of a fishy smell is bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina, and these anaerobic organisms smell.
Trichomoniasis is the most common sexually transmitted infection that is curable and is easily treated with antibiotics.
The vagina when infected is known to have a pungent fishy smell.
In rare cases, a fishy smell is an indication of a more serious condition.
- Bad smell
The rotten smell that makes your nose squirm and your face wrinkle is definitely not an ordinary thing.
If it smells foul, like dead organisms, it may not be your vagina, but something in your vagina.
The cause could be a forgotten tampon or sanitary napkin.
Accidentally leaving a tampon for days, even weeks, in the vagina is much more common than you might think.
Reporting from Vice, there are interesting facts about the Lactobacelli bacteria found in our vagina.
According to Dr. Mendes Soares, most of the vagina was colonized by lactobacillus species.
Lactobacillus is a “probiotic” bacteria; they must be in your intestines and vagina to stop more serious disease-causing pathogens from invading.
There may be other bacteria in the mixture, but four out of five vaginas are “90 to 95 percent of a single lactobacillus species”.
Lactobacillus ferments sugar into lactic acid, which helps keep the vagina slightly acidic.
Some beer and yogurt are cultivated with lactobacillus. Beer aficionados describe lactic acid taste as “a pleasant, soft sour taste,” and lager fermented with lactobacillus has a subtle musty characteristic.
Well, you might be curious…
“If lactobacillus are used to ferment beer and yogurt, has anyone used vaginal bacteria to make these drinks?”
The answer, of course, is yes.
A University of Wisconsin PhD student makes her own probiotic yogurt using her personal vaginal flora as a starting point.
Doing this at home is discouraged, as you cannot separate good bacteria from bad bacteria in a non-microbiology laboratory setting.
A Polish brewery called, The Order of Yoni, has made Bottle Instinct, a vaginal fermented sour beer.
Lactobacillus for one bottle of Bottle Instict was collected from a woman, the Czech model Alexandra Brendlova, who has bona fide credentials acknowledging its cleanliness and purity.
So, if your partner is a beer drinker but complains and belittles you for the smell of your vagina, it’s time to say bye bye dear.