Did you know that “80 percent of women probably need assistance when it comes to female hygiene”? No this isn’t a new statistic from the CDC or World Health Organization. Instead, this information is from actor turned rapper turned talk show host Nick Cannon. He made these comments while appearing on Angela Yee’s Lip Service podcast in June. According to to him, “80 percent of women probably need assistance when it comes to female hygiene. There’s this magnificent 20 percent that have no smell.”
Sleeping with many women unprotected doesn’t make Cannon an expert on lady parts. Despite what he or social media might say, vaginas aren’t supposed to smell like a field of daisies. Vaginas smell like vaginas! The truth is, your vagina is home to billions of bacteria that change on a daily — sometimes hourly — basis. Having some type of vaginal odor is normal. If you were wondering, there is probably nothing wrong with the way your vagina smells. It’s completely natural and normal for you to have some kind of vaginal odor. It isn’t a perfume counter.
But since we are here, let’s discuss what normal, healthy vaginas should smell like shall we?
Tangy, fermented, or sour. These are perfectly healthy adjectives to describe the vaginal odor created by your normal bacterial flora. Good bacteria helps to keep your vagina healthy by producing lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other substances to keep harmful bacteria to a minimum. They help maintain your vaginal pH levels by keeping it on the acidic side – between 3.8 and 4.5.
A metallic or copper smell is also a common vaginal order. It could be due to blood from menstruation or light bleeding after sex. Blood contains iron, which explains the metallic scent. It could also be from coming in contact with semen, which can affect your vagina’s pH balance.
A slightly sweet smelling vagina can happen if you eat a lot of citrus fruits. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and oranges, pineapples and grapefruits have been known to sweeten your vaginal fluids.
With that being said, if what you are smelling in your panties isn’t remotely close to any of the above, then you may have something going on and should probably contact your gynecologist. Here are a few unhealthy smells to be on the lookout for:
Fishy. If your vagina has a strong fishy odor, like the smell of expired fish, it may be a sign of a more serious condition. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is one possibility. BV is a bacterial infection that occurs when your healthy lactobacilli get out of balance and grow too much. Symptoms include thin vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell and a little itching or burning when you urinate. BV is treated with an antibiotic. Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, is another possible explanation for a heavy, fishy vaginal odor. Women with trichomoniasis may notice genital itching, burning, redness or soreness, urinary discomfort, and a clear, white, yellowish, or greenish vaginal discharge. Trichomoniasis is also treatable with antibiotics.
Another possible odor is a rotten scent, like bad meat. A forgotten tampon could be the cause of this smell. In addition to a very bad smelling vaginal discharge that’s yellow, green, pink, gray, or brown, you may experience additional symptoms. These include fever, vaginal itching, pain urinating, pain around your pelvis or abdomen, redness around the genital area, and vaginal swelling. If you’re unable to easily retrieve a tampon and if you are experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor.
If you’re worried about the smell of your vagina there are natural things you can do to keep it smelling healthy and natural, such as using condoms. Unprotected sex increases your risk of several conditions that can lead to vaginal odors. Other changes that can be made include eating healthy and incorporating more fruits into your diet, as well as investing in new underwear. Breathable cotton is the best choice for those with concerns about vaginal odor, as it is less likely to hold moisture close to the vagina. This makes it more difficult for bacteria and other sources of odor to build up and produce a strong smell.
So if you have concerns, speak with your physician about it. If you don’t, continue to keep in mind that a vagina should smell like a vagina. Either way, don’t listen to Nick Cannon.