Some smells are normal; some mean you should see a doctor.
It’s perfectly natural for your lady parts to have a certain, shall we say, aroma, according to Jennifer Wider, MD. But while how you smell down there can depend on your daily activities and your diet, vaginal odor can also be an indicator of a serious infection. Dr. Wider lays out the smells you should keep tabs on, so you can tell the difference between totally normal and not okay.
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, it may have a stronger, musky smell from the surrounding sweat glands — which is 100 percent normal.
If your vagina gives off a strong, foul odor, it may be the sign of an infection. For example, bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and upsets the delicate PH balance of the vagina, causing an increase in discharge and a strong fishy odor that increases after you’ve had sex. A foul odor with green discharge typically indicates trichomoniasis, an STD. So, if you just don’t smell right, trust your instinct and see your doctor.
Your vagina might smell differently depending on the lubricants you’ve used during sex and whether or not you’ve used a condom. Typically, most women describe the smell as “chlorine-like” or “bleach-y” and it’s nothing to be worried about.
While there’s normally a small amount of yeast in your vagina, yeast infections occur when there’s an overgrowth. You’ll know there’s something up if you notice a faint, bread-like smell along with cottage cheese-like discharge.
If you notice you constantly smell a bit off (like the scent of blood) during that time of the month, it’s typically nothing to be alarmed about. When you have your period, the blood can mix with the natural state of a healthy vagina and give off a different — but normal — smell.
What you eat can also make your vagina smell differently. Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit have been known to sweeten the smell and taste of vaginal fluids. (On the other hand, onions, garlic, broccoli, and asparagus can cause what some describe as an “unpleasant” odor and taste.)