The taste of your vagina depends on your vaginal pH. Anything from slightly sweet to bitter and acidic is normal. Using douches or other products to alter the smell or taste can have a negative impact on pH, so it’s best to avoid them.
Some vulva owners may think that their vaginas are icky, gross, stinky, and weird from what people may have taught them.
First, a couple of definitions:
Your vagina is the part of your body that leads from outside your body to your uterus on the inside. On the other hand, your vulva is the outer part that includes your:
- clitoral hood
- inner labia
- outer labia
This article uses the terms “vagina” or “vaginal area” to incorporate your vulva, clitoris, and vagina, as all of these areas contribute to genital taste or smell.
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 a vagina.
And that can be sweet, sour, metallic, sharp or spiced, bitter or acidic.
When your vaginal pH experiences a disruption, it can cause an infection like bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis, or a yeast infection, which can cause your vagina to taste like a vagina with an infection.
That’s to say, it may taste like rotten fish, spoiled meat, or matzah, for example.
Treating and clearing the infection can clear any unusual tastes, changing the flavor of your bits quite a bit.
But if you have a healthy vagina, anything you do to make your vagina taste “better” can 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.
When you’re menstruating, your blood can 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 can be 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 wheatgrass 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 the taste.”
Walk right past these babies in the drug or grocery store.
One of your 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.
Your 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 nether bits, 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 do to support the health of your vulva.
(Gently) cleanse the outside of your vulva
Again: You really, really, really don’t need to be cleaning inside your vagina.
But you do need to wash your vulva (your outer bits). 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 can 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 why your vagina might smell (or taste) mustier than usual.
Plus, it’ll wash away any sweat that dries after exercise or rigorous activity, which can make your vagina taste salty.
Wear cotton panties
Cotton = breathable. And a 2019 study showed that vulva owners who wear breathable skivvies might have lower rates of BV than those who wear underwear made of synthetic materials.
Try to avoid smoking and cut back on booze
If you’ve ever hit the gym after a night of drinking and smoking, you might know alcohol and tobacco can change the scent of your sweat. The same goes for the scent of your vulva. Both can 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 professional.
But if you’re 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, a vagina with an infection can taste and smell like one.
Anything that messes with the natural pH of your vagina, resulting in an infection, can make your vagina taste worse.
Things that can
- washing inside your vagina
- using flavored condoms during penetrative sex
- incorporating food into oral sex play
- using scented soaps down there
- leaving a tampon or cup in for too long
- using strong-scented soaps and detergents
Is an odor ever a sign of something more?
A change in flavor or scent often indicates an infection, especially if there are accompanying symptoms, like a change in discharge or itchiness. Contact a healthcare professional to find out what’s up. It may also be a sign of menopause.
Does boric acid make your vagina taste better?
How do you keep your VAG smelling fresh?
Following healthy practices for your body and vaginal health can help keep the area naturally fresh.
How can I get rid of a fishy odor?
You may have an infection like vaginitis if you have a fishy odor in your vaginal area. This requires medical treatment.
There are a few lifestyle changes that may be good for your overall vulvar health and may make your vaginal taste milder.
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 usually tastes A-OK!
The only time you may feel 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.