Vaginal Odor and What It Means For You

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While vaginas that smell of roses and sunshine are unrealistic and only seen in silly marketing campaigns for body perfumes or douches, there are some instances where the odor of your vagina can mean important things for your general health. Find out what your body is trying to tell you!

Vaginas have particular smells and that is just a fact of life. However, sometimes these can mean your body is letting you know something is amiss. Here we discuss what smells should be cause for concern and what is perfectly normal.

Fishy Vaginal Odor

Although it’s a common cliché, vaginas do not actually often smell “fishy.” If you think your vagina does smell like fish, then this might be an indication of a few different things. Firstly, the reason for this smell is the presence of the chemical compound, Trimethylamine, which is found in both rotting fish but also vaginal flora that shows signs of bacterial vaginosis or Trichomoniasis. The latter is one of the most common curable STIs and can be resolved quickly by just taking antibiotics. 

Sweet/Beer-Like Vaginal Odor

If you have noticed a sweet, almost honey-like fragrance from your vagina then you might be suffering from an overgrowth of yeast. This smell might also be closer to bread or even something a bit more sour. Either way, burning or itchiness usually follows this and over the counter medication may be required to get the problem under control. Of course, there are some easy ways to lower the risk of yeast infections, including:

  • Keeping your vaginal area dry: yeast flourishes in dampness so it’s always a good idea to dry yourself well after a shower and to avoid sitting in damp clothes like swimwear.
  • Avoiding oral sex with people that have oral candidiasis (thrush in their mouth). Or you use dental dams. This way you are also protected from STDs during oral sex
  • Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics: overusing antibiotics can accidentally kill of the bacteria in your vagina that helps keep things in balance.

Coppery Vaginal Odors

Vaginal odors of copper usually accompany menstruation, so it is nothing to really be concerned about. If the smell is closer to rotting or decaying meat, however, this needs to be investigated. The issue can be as simple as a forgotten tampon, which is dangerous but actually a lot more common than you think. Forgotten tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome. So always make sure that you remove your tampon. 

How to Keep Your Odor Healthy

Remember, it is totally normal for your vaginal odor to change throughout the month. Hormones have a huge impact on your vaginal flora and can mean your vagina smells more at a certain point or different over the course of a week. Vaginal odors are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. To make sure your vaginal odor is as healthy as possible, keep these habits in mind:

  • Hygiene: although your vagina is much like a fancy oven and entirely self-cleaning, there are a few things you can do to make sure everything stays fresh. Basic things like using a pH-balanced body wash and always wiping front to back will ensure that the bacteria in your vaginal area stays healthy and in check. More inimate hygiene tips? Here you go!
  • Tampons/Cups: Using tampons or menstrual cups are a great way to avoid the odor that can sometimes arise from pads sitting so close to the body.
  • Clothes: Although skinny jeans might look great, overly tight clothes don’t provide the breathability that your body needs. Sweat, discharge and other fluids stay in the fabric and can result in stronger vaginal odor than you usually have. The solution? Dress for comfort when possible.

No matter what your vagina smells like, it’s important to remember that odors are normal and a great indicator of your vaginal health. Leave flowery smells to gardens and embrace your natural fragrance!


Photo: Max Libertine / Unsplash.com

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