There are a lot of things that can change the scent of your lady parts.

By Samantha Lauriello
May 31, 2019

It’s no secret that vaginas have a scent. They can be musky, earthy, sweet, salty, and the list goes on. Every woman is different, and your scent is uniquely yours. For one man, however, his wife’s vaginal scent is causing some problems in the bedroom. Now he’s asking Reddit for advice.

“My wife is brilliant, wonderful, and we have the best sex,” user RurouniBrownie wrote. “My problem, and it really is my problem, is that unless we're in the shower, I just can't have sex with her from behind, because every time we start (and we're not in the shower) I get just this noseful of I don't know, this really, really strong smell.”

He went on to say, “It's not an infection (clean bill of health from her regular gyno visits), it's not poo, and I feel like it's really different from her smell when I go down on her as well. It's just this strong, strong smell of...something.”

RurouniBrownie said that he knows “it's part of her body, it's natural,” and “it's not wrong,” but he just can’t enjoy sex in that position. Plus, he’s confused. “I'm also a bit confused about why it smells so strong in that position while it's much milder and a huge turn-on during oral sex,” he wrote.

He closed his post by saying he’s really just asking for advice. “I don't want sex from behind to be a bathroom only thing,” he wrote, “but I also want to be able to be into it as well.”

First things first: it’s totally normal for women to have a vaginal scent, and it’s also normal for it to sometimes smell different than it usually does. It can be stronger, more bitter, or just straight up funkier. That smell is affected by a woman’s body chemistry, sweat level, the foods she eats, and other factors.

Food can seriously change the scent of a woman’s lady parts. Onions, garlic, asparagus, curry, and red meat are common culprits of a strong odor, Jennifer Landa, MD, an ob-gyn at BodyLogicMD in Orlando, Florida, previously told Health. Chemicals in these foods affect your vaginal secretions as well as the smell of your sweat and urine, Dr. Landa says, but the smell should go away once your body fully metabolizes what you ate.

But an odor could also be a sign of something more serious. RurouniBrownie did say his wife has a “clean bill of health,” but a strong, fishy odor is a telltale sign of bacterial vaginosis, a type of vaginal infection. The persistent odor is often accompanied by a thin white discharge, pain, and/or itching, though not all women have these symptoms. Fortunately, bacterial vaginosis can usually be treated with antibiotics.

A bread-like odor, on the other hand, is usually a sign of a yeast infection, Dr. Landa said. Your ob-gyn can give you an official diagnosis and prescription meds to cure it, or you can hurry to the drugstore for over-the-counter yeast-infection treatment.

Other things that can cause a strong vaginal odor are STDs, your period, and even having sex. When semen mixes with the normal bacteria in the vagina, "it can cause a sort of tangy smell that is totally normal," Dr. Landa said.

Basically, every vagina has a scent, and it’ll probably change sometimes. But if you notice other symptoms or think you might have an infection, be sure to talk to your ob-gyn.

Our advice for RurouniBrownie: Talk to your partner if you notice something seems off down there. It could be a clue that they need to see their doctor, and if that’s the case, you would be doing them a very big favor.

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Health Hookup newsletter