Most vulva owners have been taught that their vaginas are icky, gross, stinky, and weird.
So, if you’re interested in changing the taste of your vagina, know this: A healthy vagina doesn’t taste like flowers, a fresh summer breeze, or vanilla. It tastes like vagina.
And that can be sweet or sour, metallic, sharp or spiced, bitter or acidic.
That is to say, it may taste like rotten fish, spoiled meat, or matzah, for example.
Treating and absolving the infection will absolve any unusual tastes, and therefore change the flavor of your bits quite a bit.
But if you have a healthy vagina, anything you do to make your vagina taste “better” will only have a very minimal effect, says Michael Ingber, MD, a board certified urologist and female pelvic medicine specialist at The Center for Specialized Women’s Health in New Jersey.
In fact, Ingber says the thing that affects the taste of your vagina the most is where you are in your cycle. You have no control over that.
When you’re menstruating, the blood will give your vagina a metallic taste. When you’re ovulating, the release of cervical mucus can result in a slightly muskier taste.
“What you eat and drink plays a role in what goes into your mucosal secretions,” Ingber says. Switch up your snacks, and you may switch up your vaginal odor and taste. But not overwhelmingly so, he says.
But “improve”? Well, that’s subjective.
There’s been no research linking different foods with different vaginal tastes. But anecdotal reports suggest that heavily spiced foods may make you taste, well, spicier, while asparagus and wheat grass shots may make you taste grassier.
Other foods that may noticeably affect your taste include:
- garlic and onion
- sugary foods and drinks
- red meat
Sex therapist Angela Watson (aka Doctor Climax) says, “A good rule of thumb is any food that modifies the smell of your sweat or pee will also modify the secretions from your vagina, which will impact taste.”
Walk right past these babies in the drug or grocery store.
One of the vagina’s (many) superpowers is that it’s a self-cleaning machine. And a good one.
You really don’t need to scrub or wash the inside of your vagina with washes, douches, or other hygiene products. Doing so can actually throw off your pH and lead to infection.
“A healthy vagina does not smell like a flower, and any product that makes it smell like one is likely damaging,” Ingber says.
The vagina has a naturally acidic environment that allows good bacteria to #ThriveAndSurvive while killing off bad bacteria. Many of these washes contain glycerin and other sugars that feed the bad bacteria, allowing them to grow and multiply.
“An overgrowth of some of the bad bacteria, like Gardnerella bacteria … may result in BV and result in a fishy odor, which is abnormal and a sign of an unhealthy vagina,” Ingber says.
BV and other infections typically require antibiotic treatment.
Anything that’s good for your health is generally good for your netherbits, too. This includes:
- eating nutrient-dense fruits and veggies
- drinking plenty of H2O
- getting enough sleep
- managing your stress levels
- getting regular exercise
Still, there are a few other things you can to support the health of your vulva.
(Gently) cleanse the outside of your vulva
Again: You reallyreallyreally shouldn’t be cleaning inside the vagina.
But you do need to wash your vulva (the outer bits). The vulva includes your:
- clitoral hood
- inner labia
- outer labia
So, how do you wash your vulva? Water. That’s it.
Use your fingers or a clean washcloth to spread your labia apart. Gently pat/cleanse/rub around the folds with warm water.
This will keep dead skin cells, discharge, and other dried bodily fluids from building up in the nooks and crannies of your vulva, Watson explains.
This white, gooey buildup is typically the culprit if your vagina smells (or tastes) mustier than usual.
Plus, it’ll wash away any sweat that dried after exercise or rigorous activity, which can make the vagina taste salty.
Wear cotton panties
Cotton=breathable. And research shows that vulva owners who wear breathable skivvies have lower rates of BV compared to those who wear underwear made of synthetic materials.
Avoid smoking and cut back on booze
If you’ve ever hit the gym after a night of drinking and smoking, you know alcohol and tobacco change the scent of your sweat. Same goes for the scent of your vulva. Both will make you smell more sour, bitter, or stale than usual.
Use nonporous sex toys
Porous materials have tiny microscopic holes that bacteria can climb and reside in. So, while sex toys made of porous materials can introduce new pH-altering, infection-causing bacteria to your bits, nonporous sex toys won’t.
“When you don’t hydrate, everything gets concentrated. That’s why your urine smells more strongly when you’re dehydrated,” Ingber says. “Same goes for vaginal odor.”
Dump anyone who doesn’t like how you taste
If your boo usually loves going downtown to eat but one day (nicely) mentions that you taste different, you may want to call up your healthcare provider.
But if you’re currently dating someone who consistently makes disparaging comments about your flavor or uses it as an excuse not to give you head, dump ’em. Like yesterday.
Again, an infected vagina is going to taste and smell like an infected vagina.
Anything that messes with the natural pH of the vagina, and therefore results in infection, will make the vagina taste worse.
Things that can mess with the vaginal pH include:
- washing inside the vagina
- using scented soaps down there
- using flavored condoms during penetrative sex
- incorporating food into oral sex play
- leaving a tampon or cup in for too long
- using strong-scented soaps and detergents
Sometimes. You know your vagina’s signature scent. When there’s a change, you notice.
A change in flavor or scent often indicates an infection. Especially if there are any accompanying symptoms, like a change in discharge or itchiness. See a healthcare provider to find out what’s up.
Ingber notes that sometimes a change in smell is simply a sign that someone has started menopause.
“During menopause, estrogen levels drop and can cause the vaginal pH to become more basic, and therefore taste and smell different,” he says.
There are a few lifestyle changes that’ll be good for your overall vulvar health and may make your vaginal taste more mild.
But “there’s a huge variance in healthy vaginal tastes, and there is no correct or ideal healthy vagina taste,” Watson says. So, as long as your vagina is healthy, it tastes A-OK!
The only time you should be concerned about the taste of your vagina is if it’s recently changed, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram.