Looking for the lowdown on the down-low glow? We’ve got you covered.
Here’s how to make your vagina smell good. (Hint. Maybe it already does.)
First, know that you’re not alone.
In a survey of 1000 millennial women, over two-thirds reported feeling insecure about the scent of their vaginas.
And because we don’t talk much about this topic, it’s hard to know if there are others out there in the same boat.
First, remember vaginas have a natural scent which already does smell good.
While there are some cases where strong smells may be clues to certain medical conditions, milder smells may just be, well, the way your vagina smells.
So before we dive in, let’s dispel some myths about vaginas and their smell.
In this article 📝
- What does vagina smell like?
- Why does my vagina smell?
- How do I get rid of the odor down there?
- How to make your vagina smell and taste good
- “I shower everyday and still smell down there, what should I do?”
- Why do I have a strong odor down there?
What does vagina smell like?
Every vagina has a distinctive scent.
That’s because we all have our own unique microbiome, a community of tiny organisms that live together inside our vaginas, protecting it—the most common of which is good bacteria called lactobacilli.
When we are healthy, those organisms live in perfect harmony.
You may notice a clear or milky discharge at various times of the month that can have a faint odor—usually something in the style of slightly musky.
But sometimes, if something disrupts the balance, there can be trouble in paradise.
If you notice a strong smell coming from your vagina, often described as fishy or spoiled milk, it may mean that something else is up.
Bacterial and fungal infections can both lead to a noticeable scent.
They can also be accompanied by a discharge that is thicker and more colored than usual.
Some common infections include bacterial vaginosis (BV) and STIs like gonorrhea and trichomoniasis.
Leaving a tampon or menstrual cup in too long can also disrupt the balance.
Or you may just be using a new detergent that you’re vagina isn’t keen on.
Or your clothing around your crotch is too tight ‒ yup, that can cause irritation, which can cause your vagina to produce more discharge, which can sometimes smell a bit funky.
These can all lead to an infection traveling up the reproductive system leading to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Then there are urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can cause a pungent smell in your urine.
While not the vagina exactly, it can leave you feeling less than fresh in the general area.
So what should you do if you notice a strong smell?
Why does my vagina smell?
First, think about what you mean by “smell.”
It is hard to say exactly what a normal vagina smell like because we all have a unique smell.
Almost all vaginas smell a bit (and this is natural, nothing to feel awkward about) ‒ but women can usually a bit musty or earthy or sometimes a little sour, almost like damp.
But sometimes, a funkier smell might crop up.
If your vagina smells fishy, sour, or sweeter than usual, it could be a sign that something’s off.
Usually, your vagina has its own way of sorting itself out if this is the case (it is usually self-sustaining) ‒ you may notice that your vaginal discharge is more watery than usual, for example.
In most cases, an unusual vaginal odor will go away by itself within a few days.
But if you’re in discomfort or you notice a strong smell or change in your discharge, speak with your doctor.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about ‒ this is their job, and it’s better to get it checked out, just in case.
How do I get rid of the odor down there?
Now for how to get rid of vaginal odor.
First, remember that you may not have to.
As we said, perfectly healthy vaginas still have a slight odor to them.
It’s normal and nothing to feel self-conscious about.
That being said, if you notice a strong smell that you’re worried about, it’s important to get in touch with your doctor as it may signal an infection or illness.
Vaginal odor treatment depends on what’s causing the smell. Here are some possibilities:
- For bacterial vaginosis (BV), you will probably be given an antibiotic. They come as an oral pill or an intra-vaginal cream.
- For trichomoniasis? Oral medication.
- For gonorrhea and PID? Likely a course of antibiotics. For STIs, your partner must receive treatment, too, to avoid reinfection.
- For a UTI? Antibiotics. And cranberry juice shows some promise, even if it is more for preventative measures.
And if you are concerned that you have left a tampon or menstrual cup in for too long, it’s important to visit your doctor, particularly if you have other symptoms like fever and pain.
There is a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can cause a serious infection that requires hospitalization.
The sooner you get treatment, the better.
How do I smell better down there ASAP?
Want to know how to make your vagina smell better quick?
Well, there are some products that you can use, although it’s advisable to steer away from beauty products that are heavily scented/perfumed, as they can irritate and throw off your vaginal floral causing more harm than good.
First, even a quick wipe with a clean damp cloth can make a huge difference, particularly if your funk is from exercise or feeling hot.
When it comes to cleaning your vagina, it’s advised not to wash or clean inside your vaginal canal ‒ stick to the outside (your vulva and labia).
Changing your underwear can also help ‒ comfy breatheable cotton underwear that fits your body shape without being too loose or too tight should also help to keep your vagina happy and smelling as it should.
But even products that are tailored specifically to make your vagina smell good can be harmful and disrupt your vagina’s pH balance, which can cause discomfort.
So it’s best to stick with just plain water to wipe over your vulva and change your underwear for a quick fix to make your vagina smell good and you feel better.
How to make your vagina smell and taste good
Feeling confident when you have sex is so important—and if you’re concerned about the smell or taste of your vagina, it may put a dampener on things.
But here’s the thing, your vagina is supposed to smell and taste like a vagina (louder for the people at the back), and attempts to get in the way of this can be dangerous.
Practices like vaginal douching—washing out the inside of the vagina with a liquid solution—can do way more harm than good because they disrupt the vagina’s bacterial ecosystem.
In fact, douching is linked to serious health conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease.
There is also some evidence to suggest that it is associated with ectopic pregnancies among Black women – though it isn’t very strong.
So with that in mind, here are some tips to keep things healthy, safe, and clean ‒ how to maintain a good-smelling vagina:
- Practice good hygiene. Wash the outside (your vulva) with gentle soap and water. You don’t need to worry about the inside–your vagina is pretty good at taking care of that itself. Breathable cotton underwear can also help.
- Wipe from front to back to avoid UTIs.
- Keep hydrated to help stave off infections.
- Pee after sex. This can help wash out any harmful bacteria waiting in the wings.
- Wash sex toys and store them in a clean, dry place to avoid the wrong bacteria creeping in.
“I shower everyday and still smell down there, what should I do?”
If you practice good hygiene but still find that you have a distinct vaginal odor, there are some things you can try:
- Switch to a gentle detergent: Some detergents are strongly scented or powerful, which can disrupt your vaginal pH and cause irritation and a vaginal odor.
- Get the right underwear: Making sure your underwear isn’t too tight or too loose can make a big difference. Also checking the material of your underwear can help ‒ generally, cotton is best.
- Drink more water: It’s generally good advice, but drinking more water can keep infections at bay and help you pee more, which can “flush” out your vulval area more often.
- Use a damp, clean cloth after going to the bathroom: For some people, rough toilet paper can cause irritations, so making sure you’re clean by wiping yourself with a damp, clean cloth may help.
- Be aware of what you eat: Yep, your diet can impact your vaginal odor and taste ‒ we’re all different, so keep track of what you’re eating and when your vaginal odor appears to see what may be triggering it.
Why do I have a strong odor down there?
Some people describe their normal vaginal odor as a little sour, so if your discharge smells sour, that might be totally natural for your vaginal pH.
You are the only person who knows what your normal is.
But if it’s recently changed, then it may be a sign of infection.
Stay hydrated, keep your vaginal area clean (taking care not to clean inside your vaginal canal and to avoid soapy or scented products), use a gentle detergent, wear comfortable underwear, and keep an eye on it.
If it persists or gets worse, pay a visit to your doctor to check it out.
That’s all there is to know about how to make your vagina smell good!
If you’ve still got questions, join us on Peanut.
We’re having the conversation.