Should Your Vagina Smell Like That? Dr. Jackie Breaks Down Good Vs. Bad Odors

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Dr. Jackie offers a guide to healthy and unhealthy vagina odors, discharges and more.

Exploring the signs of an unhealthy vagina can be like traveling through a vaginal grocery store. Each aisle comes with a different potential problem.

So what does your cart smell like? All healthy vaginas will have some type of aroma, but whether or not you should seek medical treatment depends on your body chemistry, your diet and your day-to-day lifestyle. Use this odor guide to determine the difference between healthy and not-so healthy vaginas. If your vagina smells like...

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The Bakery
If you get a whiff of “warm bread” it is most likely that you have yourself a yeast infection. A yeast infection may smell like warm bread but you definitely didn’t get it from the bakery. A yeast infection has a cottage cheese like discharge accompanied by itching, burning and vaginal irritation. Most can be treated with over-the-counter medication, but should be evaluated by your physician if symptoms continue or reoccur.

The Seafood Department
Notice a smell of shrimp, salmon and catfish? Most likely you have a case of bacterial vaginosis (BV) and lemon juice won’t fix this one. Bacterial vaginosis has a strong fishy odor and a milky white discharge with or without irritation. The “seafood department” can be tricky. Even “fishy” can be too fishy.

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If an extreme unpleasant odor with a frothy discharge surfaces it could be trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted disease. You didn’t get it from the toilet – someone else passed it on. Unfortunately, this is a sexually transmitted and needs medical attention. Smells in this department require some further investigation, because a protozoan parasite, which is microscopic, causes an infection from a one-cell animal called trichomona. If this is the case, you’re not alone. Eight million plus Americans are infected with this every year.

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The Produce Department
Like the produce department, your vagina may have multiple smells and tastes. It might smell like pineapples, strawberries or oranges. Or, it could be onions, garlic and asparagus. How we metabolize foods can directly affect what odors our bodies produce. For instance, a slight onion (musky) vaginal odor is nothing to cry about. A musky vaginal odor is usually a normal vaginal odor, but women who can’t metabolize asparagus and other foods may find themselves smelling like a side dish. We are what we eat and some women can taste and smell like their last meal.  It has even been proven that eating sweet fruits can change the flavor and aroma in the bedroom.

The Meat Department
If you notice a “fleshy”(fresh meat-like) smell and it’s that time of the month, no need to fret. This is a common vaginal scent. Now if you it smells more like road kill, there is a huge problem. This problem requires immediate medical attention. More than you can ever imagine, tampons are often forgotten for days or even weeks. This smell is extremely offensive and can be noticed through clothing and may be accompanied by a brownish discharge. It’s pretty unbelievable that something as small as a tampon can cause a serious condition called Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can lead to death, but it does.

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The Household Department
Now if you notice a “bleachy” odor, proceed with caution and check for the condoms. The use of condoms and lubricants can sometimes create a bleachy smell during intercourse. (But don’t you even think about skipping them.) Safe sex can keep you from possibly revisiting the seafood department.

Though most women are embarrassed to talk about it, every woman has experienced at least one of these odors before. Be informed on which smells are healthy and which are not. Know your body and remember that we are all different by design and we may not always have the same smells and taste. That doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong.

Popular Atlanta OBGYN, Dr. Jacqueline Walters (AKA Married To Medicine star Dr. Jackie) wants to help you pamper and protect your vajayjay. If you have questions for her, email us now and included “Ask Dr. Jackie” in the subject line.

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