Frankly, every coochie has its own little aroma. As a matter of fact, there was a unique study done years that discussed, how there is a V-potpourri of about 2,100 mini odors that make up the fragrant bouquet of a vagina. But let’s be clear, not all vaginal odors are normal.

What you consume, and your level of hygiene, bowel habits, how you sweat and your overall health can affect the natural fragrance of a vagina. If you are noticing an unpleasant vaginal odor that stays with you, then a visit to your gynecologist is a must.

What is a normal smelling vagina?

According to clinicians, vaginas can have a mild musky smell; this is normal. The musk comes from female pheromones that can make you sexually desirable. Vaginas typically have no odor when you step out of a shower but after intercourse, or during menstruation, after childbirth and menopause (which we’ll discuss later) can make it less than fragrant. Even if your vagina’s odor is offensive, what you don’t want to do is deodorize it or douche because doing so, interferes with your natural PH balance, which can lead to many gynecological problems.

What are the causes of a funky vagina?

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Your vagina is home to a species of bacteria, lactobacillus, which produces lactic acid and help to control the growth of other more harmful micro-organisms. If these deplete, your vagina can become less acidic and more prone to infections such as bacterial vaginosis or BV. Studies have shown that during and after going through menopause, the level of lactobacillus in the vagina drops, and the vaginal pH becomes less acidic, increasing the risk of infections.

BV is one of the reasons why a vagina smells fishy. African American women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with BV as their white counterparts. Besides the unpleasant odor, women can experience such symptoms as itching or burning much like a yeast infection. The fishy smell, however, distinguishes BV from a yeast infection. BV can also be accompanied by a thin, watery, white, or gray discharge.

A gynecologist can prescribe an antibiotic to treat BV which, is not an STD. You can reduce your BV risk by not douching, avoiding scented or flavored vaginal products, and limiting sexual partners. Even though BV is not an STD, having too many sexual partners can throw off the bacterial balance in the vagina that leads to BV. Untreated BV increases your chances of contracting a serious STD.

Yeast Infection. When there is a yeasty smell, accompanied by a frothy discharge, itching, soreness, burning during urination and sex, you probably have a yeast infection. A yeast infections smell is not offensive enough to clear a room, but there is a distinct odor. An OTC med can usually clear a yeast infection, but if it does not, call your doctor. Yeast infections can be prevented by consuming probiotics like yogurt, wearing white cotton underwear and avoiding douching, powders, and sprays to mask odors.

Menopause: The more musky odor during menopause is due to a change in the vaginal pH that happens when reduced estrogen levels cause the vaginal tissue to thin and become less acidic. A doctor may also prescribe topical estrogen, which usually eliminates the odor in a few weeks. Since estrogen vaginal cream is absorbed to a small extent into the bloodstream, you should have a thorough discussion about its pros and cons with your physician.

During menopause and after, many women also develop urinary incontinence or leakage which can leave the area around your vagina smelling like ammonia. If you’re prone to this type of involuntary leakage, wearing panty liners to absorb urine leaks or frequently changing your underwear may help. While urine that smells like ammonia isn’t always a cause for concern, there are some instances where it can be, so it is still always best to seek advice from your gynecologist.

Something You Ate. Certain foods affect the way your entire body smells, and this will include your vagina. Studies have proven that foods with strong scents like coffee, chilies, pepper, curry, garlic, onion, blue cheese, cabbage, seafood, asparagus, and broccoli tend to have the most impact. Alcohol, whether it’s liquor, beer, or wine, can definitely change the way your vagina smells. It affects your pH and can throw this delicate system off. If you suspect a food might be contributing to the funk down there, you can try a process of elimination to see if the odor improves.

Sweat. When the groin area is moist, it can be a smelly region! External genitals have apocrine glands (also found in the armpits, nipples, ear canals, eyelids, and wings of your nostrils). These glands secrete an oily fluid that’s metabolized by bacteria on your skin that can bring on an odor. Being overweight and wearing tight-fitting clothing can trap sweat and bacteria on the skin, or in skin folds that result in an unpleasant odor.

Intercourse. Having sexual relations will change the smell of your vagina temporarily because there is a mix of semen, vaginal secretions, and sweat. Even if a condom is used, there will still be an after sex odor and the smell can vary from partner to partner. The odor should go away after bathing.

Help for vaginal odor 

If your vaginal odor is not infection-related, these self-help prevention tips might freshen things up a bit:

Wear loose clothing for airflow

Practice good hygiene by cleansing the outside of your vagina with a mild soap and nonabrasive washcloth

Wear cotton panties, they are breathable and help to wick away moisture

Try a warm 20-minute bath and add a cup or two of apple cider vinegar to reduce bacteria

Wipe properly (front to back) after using the toilet

Avoid lubricants that are full of additives and preservatives. Water-based lubricants with glycerin can promote the growth of bacteria and yeast, and contain lots of preservatives. Silicone-based lubes are typically the safest and hypoallergenic.

Steer clear of feminine products with the promise of making your vajajay smell like flowers