How a Healthy Vagina Should Smell

February 12, 2020   Sexual Health


Every woman is unique and quite frankly, so is her vagina. If you’re wondering if your vagina should have a smell, the answer is yes. The scent you experience down there is a combination of the normal bacteria that lives in the vaginal area, your food intake, the laundry detergent you use, as well as your bathroom and hygiene habits.

It is also common for your odor to change over the course of the month. Women specifically notice a change in scent during their periods. The vaginal area produces pheromones which attract potential partners, so embrace your scent! Here are some things to keep in mind.

It should NOT smell like roses

Although smelling like flowers is appealing, it’s not the healthiest choice. Avoid using fragranced products in your genital area, as it’s common for scented washes to eliminate both good and bad bacteria, upsetting the natural pH balance in the vagina. Utilizing fragranced products leaves you more susceptible to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and other vaginal infections. Vaginas clean themselves. Simply washing with water is the optimal choice; however, if you must use soap, Cetaphil or Glycerin soap are good options. If you’re accustomed to washing your lady parts with soap, utilizing only water may seem strange at first, but with time, you will notice it has the same effect.

How you wash yourself can impact the health of your vagina, as well. When the vagina feels irritated, women often try to treat it by using strong soaps, loofahs, and wash cloths, which can result in small tears, exposing the area to possible infections.


Tactics to eliminate or prevent unusual odors

  • Consider wearing underwear that is 100% cotton over other fabrics like satin, silk, or polyester for its breathability and sweat-wicking capabilities.
  • Drinking plenty of water is good for your skin, kidneys, and body temperature regulation. It also ensures that urination occurs frequently for a healthy pH balance.
  • Probiotics such as yogurt help to maintain the pH balance in your vagina.
  • A healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits is recommended! Consider consuming foods that are low in sugar and aren’t processed. A well-balanced diet can contribute significantly to the scent of your vagina.

When vaginal odor is a problem

Vaginal odors that warrant medical attention are generally not subtle and keep coming back regardless of how often you’ve washed yourself. If you purchased over-the-counter medications or were previously treated by your provider and have noticed that the smell has returned, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your gynecologist.


*Discharge that is clear, white, or with a yellow hue is considered normal. You may notice the discharge is red or brown around the end of your period—totally normal.

Elizabeth Chase, MD

Just because you notice your vaginal odor does NOT mean that others can smell it, too. Don't worry one bit! 

— Elizabeth Chase, M.D., F.P.M.R.S.

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