There is no one answer to what a healthy vagina should taste or smell like. It depends on a lot of factors, including diet and monthly hormone fluctuations.
For example, some people notice a cheese-like aroma in their crotch after a night of drinking, as alcohol can increase sweat and body odor. But it’s usually nothing to worry about.
While a woman’s vulva may taste and smell sour, earthy or metallic at times, it’s actually quite sweet in most cases. “Everyone’s vagina has a natural sweetness to it that’s a great way for the body to strike the right bacterial balance,” double-board certified gynecologist Monica Grover tells O.school.
However, it’s important to note that if your vulva’s flavor or scent suddenly changes, this could be a sign of an infection. A stench, for example, may indicate the presence of an STI like chlamydia or trichomoniasis.
Ingber suggests switching up what you eat (eating more fruits with antioxidants can help) and cutting out foods that can leave you with a bad vaginal smell. Specifically, foods with a high salt content (red meats and other protein-rich foods), dairy products that can cause a sour or bitter taste and fried foods.
You can also try using body-safe silicone sex toys (no jelly-like ones, which can harbor bacteria), drinking plenty of water and skipping over processed junk food. Also, make sure to avoid thongs as they can spread bacteria from the anus to the vulva and create a stinky funk.
Despite what you may have heard from movies, TV shows, or even genital hygiene ads, your vulva isn’t supposed to smell like roses or taste sweet. Instead, it’s more likely to have a tangy, metallic, or fermented taste because of its naturally acidic environment.
Some people report that their vulva also has a slight salty taste from sweat accumulated in its nooks and crannies between showers. This is normal, and it can help keep harmful bacteria away from your rockin’ body.
Certain foods can also make your vulva smell and taste better, such as pineapple (which is thought to have antimicrobial properties), citrus fruits, whole grains, vegetables, yogurt with probiotics, and drinking plenty of water. However, your vulva’s flavor and scent may also change at different times of the month due to hormone changes or your menstrual cycle. It’s also possible that you may experience unusual smells or tastes if you have an infection, such as chlamydia or trichomoniasis. A gynecologist can determine if this is the case for you and provide treatment to restore your healthy pH levels.
A healthy vagina has a sour, acidic taste. That’s a good thing, as it helps balance the bacteria that blossom down there. Dr. Ross says that the vulva’s natural acids also make it an unpleasant environment for germs.
She also explains that the taste and smell of the vulva changes from day to day and can be cyclical (think hormones and monthly menstruation). You might notice that you taste slightly metallic or penny-like in the days leading up to and following your period, as blood in the vulva has a slightly metallic flavor due to iron content.
Other factors that can impact the taste and odor of your vulva include eating certain foods, such as curry or pineapple, which can cause your groin to produce a lot of sweat, which has a distinct aroma. Smoking and heavy drinking can also change the way your vulva smells and tastes. If you start noticing that your vulva smells funky or has an odd taste, reach out to your gyno for help. It could be a sign that something is wrong, such as an infection or imbalance of your body’s pH levels.
Yummy, fruity, or sweet — a little salty or even a bit sour can be just fine down there. This tangy taste comes from healthy bacteria that help keep the area clean and balanced, and it’s usually not something to worry about.
However, the vulva is a complex ecosystem with an unpredictable array of smells and tastes that may arise from time to time. For example, many women describe a metallic, penny-like flavor in the days around menstruation, since blood naturally has a somewhat metallic taste due to its iron content. Sweat and body odor can also impact the way your vulva tastes, particularly after prolonged exercise or when not washing well enough after urinating.
Certain foods and drinks can also affect the way your vulva smells and tastes, including pineapple, curry, or spicy fatty foods that cause you to sweat more (and may leave you with a salty taste). Certain sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis or chlamydia can also lead to unusual smells and tastes in your vulva. In this case, the best thing to do is talk to a healthcare professional so that you can get treated right away and return to a normal pH balance.
Inflammation or a bacterial infection in the vagina can cause weird tastes and smells. But, it should only be temporary, especially if you apply something cool to your vulva, such as an ice pack or damp washcloth, ob/gyn Jessica Shepherd tells SELF. She adds that some foods affect how the vulva tastes and smells, including pineapple (which has antioxidants), curry (which produces a lot of sweat with a distinct odor), and yoghurt (which is rich in probiotic bacteria and helps keep things balanced).
In general, though, a healthy vagina should have an acidic tinge to it, thanks to Lactobacilli—the good bacteria that make your vulva’s pH levels just right. And, as for the smell, it should also be pretty normal, with hints of sweat, musk, and body odor. If you start to notice a funky odor or taste, talk to your gyno about it—they can help keep things in balance.