Everyone has a different body chemistry, so a vagina will not always smell the same way. While a healthy vagina generally has a fairly similar scent, a yeast infection, a work out or other factors can change how it smells down there. Many women worry has an abnormal scent and try methods like douching. Since your vagina is already perfectly capable of cleaning itself and maintaining the right pH level, you should never, ever douche. Douching ruins your natural pH balance and makes you more likely to develop a bacterial or yeast infection.
What Should a Healthy Vagina Smell Like?
While you may wish that your vagina would smell like daisies and roses, it is not going to happen. Your normal scent is not going to smell like flowers. While many companies market products to make you smell a certain way, most of these scented products are unnecessary.
Your vagina should not smell like flowers, but it also should not smell fishy. Some scents like a foul odor, an overly fishy scent or something similar. If your vaginal scent suddenly changes, it could indicate that you have a problem with your body.
Some women do not have a vaginal scent at all or have a minor vaginal scent. Basically, you have to learn what type of scent is normal for you. You should also keep in mind that your vaginal scent may change throughout the month. As your hormones fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, your vaginal scent can also change.
What Makes Up Your Vaginal Scent?
Anything you do during the day can influence your vaginal scent. Working out, eating different foods and having sex can all change the way you smell. When you have sex, your body becomes aroused and sweat glands located around the genitals activate. This can cause a slightly sweaty scent as well as the release of pheromones caused by arousal.
Normally, your vaginal pH is slightly acidic. Its pH is normally below 4.7. When you are on your period or when you have sex, it changes your pH level drastically. Menstrual blood has a pH of 7.4, which can cause your vagina’s pH level to rise and become more basic. This can cause a change of scent and can make it smell slightly fishy. Semen is also extremely basic at a 8 on the pH scale, so having sex can make your vagina less acidic as well.
If you want to find out what your vagina’s pH is, you can easily test it at home. Most drugstores will sell pH papers for less than $10. These pH papers can help you see if your vaginal pH is lower than 4.7 or if it is too basic. The kit will come with a chart that lets you match the color on your pH paper to the color on the pH chart.
If your pH is higher than 4.7, you might have a problem. This could be caused by an infection like a yeast infection, so you may have to get your vaginal back to its normal pH level. Plain yogurt can be put on a tampon and inserted in your body for several hours. Yogurt contains live lactobacillus cultures that can help the bacterial balance in your body return to normal. There are also over-the-counter gels that can be used every three days to maintain the right pH balance in your body.
Is There a Problem?
While your scent is a sign of potential problems, you may not be able to tell for sure if your vaginal scent is normal or not. You can also check your underwear to look at the discharge from your body. Increased discharge is a sign of an infection. If it is gray, neon green or yellow, then there is something going on with your body. You may also experience pain or itchiness if you have an infection of some sort.
A yeast infection will not normally affect your vaginal scent. Bacterial vaginosis can, and it causes a strong, fishy odor. This infection can happen to anyone, but it is commonly triggered by douching or having sex with a new partner. If you have bacterial vaginosis, you may also experience burning during urination, a fishy odor and itchiness. Sometimes, bacterial vaginosis disappears on its own, but it is important to get checked out by your gynecologist to be sure. Your gynecologist can give you antibiotics to take care of the bacteria that causes this infection.
Another condition that can cause a change your vaginal odor is trichomoniasis. This condition causes a foul, fish-like smell that is worse than the scent caused by bacterial vaginosis. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that is typically spread through sexual contact. Once you contract this sexually transmitted disease, you may experience symptoms like a fishy smell, yellow discharge or green discharge. A single dose of antibiotics can treat the infection, but you have to be careful that you do not just pass the infection back and forth with your partner.
Keeping Your pH Balanced
If you want to keep your vaginal scent normal, skip the synthetic underwear. This type of underwear can trap your odors and sweat. Instead, stick to cotton underwear and loose clothing.
For the most part, you do not have to do a lot of extra work to keep your vagina happy. Your vagina is already designed to be self-cleaning. The discharge that it releases removes bacteria and germs from your body. As long as you do intervene or disturb this process, your vagina can generally take care of itself.
One of the biggest disturbances for your vaginal pH is douching. Douching destroys the delicate balance of bacteria within your vaginal and is counterproductive. You think that it helps you, but instead, douching sends bacteria in the wrong direction. You are basically sending secretions filled with bacteria back into your vagina. Douching can increase the changes that you have a stinky fish scent or bacterial vaginosis. It is also connected to a higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and cervical cancer.