If you have a vagina, you're probably well aware of all its wonderful capabilities, including its special talent for producing certain... aromas. After all, it is quite literally its own microbiome, full of all types of bacteria and yeast that keep things happy and balanced down there. However, because it's such a warm, damp place, it's also pretty easily upset and infection-prone. (That's why the vagina has glands that produce lubricant and discharge — to help get rid of unwanted bacteria and possible infections. Cool, right?)
It is possible that from time to time to detect a whiff of an unexpected odor from your nether regions — different than what your lady garden typically smells like (because yes, it does smell different than the rest of your body).
If you've detected a certain scent that you've never noticed down there before, there are a few things it could be. Read on and see if you recognize any of these vaginal odors.
Let's just deal with this vaginal stereotype right off the bat, shall we? Contrary to what your sexist ex or a joke you saw online may say, vaginas are not supposed to smell like fish. However, it is possible that an infection, most likely bacterial vaginosis (BV), has made its way into your vagina, thus explaining that abnormal fishy odor. BV is similar to a yeast infection in that it produces white or greyish discharge and can be super itchy, but the fishy scent will tip you off that it's BV and not a yeast infection. If you do think you have BV, make sure to see your doctor. It's always best to avoid self diagnosing, especially because a fishy odor could also indicate a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like trichomoniasis.prevnext
Ah, the ever-dreaded yeast infection. You probably won't actually be able to detect a yeast infection from the smell of your vagina, but rather the smell of any abnormal discharge. Think: thick, cottage cheese discharge that smells faintly of a brewery. You'll also be itchy and irritated and practically knocking down your gyno's door. The (only) good thing about a yeast infection is that it's not an STI and can be easily treated with a prescription or recommended over-the-counter medication from your MD.prevnext
If next time you're doing some squats or burpees at the gym and detect a mild, musky scent, don't freak. It's most likely just your sweat — especially if you're wearing moisture-wicking leggings, shorts or undies. Luckily, it's not infection-related and that weird smell should go away as soon as you shower. Switch to breathable undies made of cotton next time you work out (or any non-synthetic material, really) and see if you notice a difference.
By the way, this can happen after any kind of sweat sesh, like a hot day commuting to work, an uncomfortable al fresco dinner on the patio or even after sex.prevnext
That metallic scent you notice is most likely your period blood. The only reason it smells different than "regular" blood is because when you urinate, you're washing away bacteria, vaginal mucus and tissue, all of which can contribute to a weird smell when combined with blood. If the smell is pretty strong, try changing your pad or tampon (feminine hygiene products should be switched out every couple hours, anyway). It should go away once your period passes.prevnext
The scent that can only be described as "repugnant" or "oh-my-god-I-think-something-died-up-there" is most likely due to a foreign object being stuck in your vagina. Usually, that means you forgot to remove a tampon before inserting another one, and it's doing everything it can to get your attention. The bacteria from said tampon is overgrown in that confined space, so you need to try to get it out yourself (lie on your back and reach in with clean fingers) or head to your gyno so she can do it with the help of a speculum. If left in there for too long, it can sometimes (but rarely) trigger toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a deadly condition linked to tampon use.prev