This Is What You Should Smell Like Down There

So how do you make your vagina smell good? Have a vagina. They smell great. And I hate the myth that they don't, all of the fish jokes, and the deodorizing products meant to make believe it should smell like glitter and daisies or something. Your vagina shouldn't smell bad, and if there's a fishy, rotten, or unusual odor you need to get to your doctor ASAP. Also, the smell shouldn't be that noticeable, Heather Rube, DO, did "a very unscientific poll of all the gynecologists I know, we determined that one can smell a normal vagina from one foot away. More pungent odor or any associated with pain, burning, or itching should prompt a visit to your provider."

But a healthy one? That smell is nothing to feel self-conscious about, although it's really easy to feel weird when you're constantly being told to mask it. Embrace the healthy smell. What is that? Well, firstly, everyone is different, so if none of this sounds (or smells) like you, but you've always had a healthy vagina, then there's nothing to worry about and that's just you. But here are some different smells you might have experienced, that all fall well within the normal range.


Musky is the term that comes up over and over when talking about vagina smells, but I'm not sure I like it because "musky" to me sounds like your grandmother's perfume and my vagina smells way better than that. But it's probably the smell you recognize most, although it may be stronger at some points than others — remember, there are a lot of sweat glands in that region.

As Dr. Jennifer Wider tells Cosmpolitan, "A healthy vagina will usually have some sort of smell, but the scent may vary day-to-day depending on how active you are. Like, after a super intense spin class, your hoo-ha may have a stronger, musky smell from the surrounding sweat glands — which is 100 percent normal".


OK, we talk a lot about vagina smell, but yours might not have much of a smell at all. As gynecologist Dr. Lissa Rankin says, "Straight out of the shower, your coochie may have no smell at all," and if you're not that active you may not notice much of a smell a lot of the time. Nothing to worry about.


Fun fact: Your period changes your PH levels, and there is also the smell of the blood itself, so it is not usual for a metallic smell around your period. It should be temporary, and it's not anything to worry about, especially if it comes and goes with your cycle.


So bleach sounds like a strong and unnatural smell to be considered a normal vagina smell. I get it. But it actually happens after sex. Sometimes it's the smell of the condoms, or if you don't use condoms you can have the same problem, as Rankin says that "after you've had intercourse, you may smell faintly bleach-like, as semen has a classic odor of its own." This is also temporary, but it may not disappear immediately, as anyone who's had lots of condom-less sex discovers when going to the restroom at work later on — I'm just saying, it can hit you like a wave. A wave in the face. But it shouldn't last much longer than that.

Basically, we should all worry a little bit less about vagina smell, because actually the smell is pretty great and a part of the whole lovely sex thing. Rankin says it best:

"Every vagina has its own special smell — a combination of the normal bacteria that live in your vagina, what you eat, how you dress, your level of hygiene, your bowel habits, how much you sweat, and what your glands secrete. Remember that the glands near the vagina also secrete pheromones, meant to attract a sexual partner. So you don't want to deodorize your va-jay-jay so much that it smells like rain. Doing so thwarts the primal function of what your smell is supposed to accomplish.

So own your odor, girlfriends. Sure, if you're worried, see a gynecologist to make sure your vagina is healthy and normal. But as long as everything's kosher down there, accept that your coochie smells exactly how it's supposed to smell."

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