As we all saw on that now-infamous episode of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, the taste of your vaginal area varies, depending on who you ask. In a Reddit thread on how someone would describe what a vagina tastes like, answers ranged from a “ripe tomato” and an “apple pie” to a “penny” and an “oyster.” But did you know a person can identify multiple “flavors” when it comes to how their vagina tastes? And not only that, but you can actually change what your vagina tastes like?
According to Jessica O’Reilly, sex & relationship expert and host of the “@SexWithDrJess” podcast, the taste of a woman or femme-identifying person’s vagina will vary based on a number of things, including natural bodily secretions, arousal fluids (e.g. when a woman becomes wet during foreplay), and sweat. “Some folks notice that the scent and taste is milder during the middle of their cycle,” she says. “Milder, of course, is not necessarily more desirable. Oftentimes, we seek to neutralize taste and scent when, in fact, the body’s natural secretions can be appealing and even arousing.” Note: You shouldn’t ever alter what you taste like for the approval of someone else. If the person you’re with doesn’t like what they’re getting, then perhaps that person isn’t worth being with.
Diet can also play a part. Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, who’s a partner at women’s intimate health spa VSPOT, tells Elite Daily via email: “We are what we eat.” While there are no scientific clinical trials on the effect foods have on vaginal secretions, she notes anecdotes from human behavior, which suggest that foods that “affect your urine or sweat smell” may also lead to effects on the taste of your vagina.
If something tastes off — as in, your vagina has an almost metallic taste and/or odor — it’s likely your pH (potential hydrogen) is imbalanced, potentially because it’s that time of the month, or something more serious. If you find yourself questioning the balance of your pH, consult your gynecologist. “The natural pH of the vagina is acidic,” says DeLucia. This should be balanced by the natural bacteria (aka lactobacilli, or lactic acid bacteria, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine) that are present in the vagina. “The natural lactobacilli maintain this equilibrium.”
O’Reilly adds that some people report some individual’s vaginal area may taste more metallic when they’re spotting, ovulating, or right before their period.
The Mayo Clinic notes other reasons for vaginal odor include poor hygiene, an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria, a forgotten tampon left in place, or a sexually transmitted infection. If you feel like your odor is abnormal, you should speak to your doctor immediately.
Being a smoker can alter the way your vagina tastes, because the chemicals you're inhaling into your lungs seep into your bloodstream. DeLucia says, “It seems to follow that if a woman [or femme-identifying person] smokes, the nicotine will come out in their kiss, their sweat, as well as their vaginal fluids. It will be related to the amount of smoking involved.”
However, it will not have the same effect on your mouth as it will on your vagina. “Smoking will not affect your vaginal scent the way it affects your breath, as you’re not inhaling the smoke into your vagina,” O’Reilly attests. “Of course, it’s possible that the chemicals will affect the scent of bodily secretions, including saliva, sweat and vaginal fluids, but your vagina will not smell like an ashtray.”
Alcohol can also have an effect on the way your vagina tastes — and not in a good way. According to O’Reilly, this may be according to how much you drink and what type of alcohol you consume.
Traditionally smellier things you ingest — spices, onions, garlic, red meat, dairy, asparagus, and broccoli — can have adverse effects in the taste department as well. Cindy Barshop, founder of VSPOT, says, “Although I don’t change my diet, I do stay away from garlic,” because of its potentially negative lingering odor in various places in her body. While it’s good to be aware of how these things could affect you, if you love garlic — or any other smelly foods, for that matter — you never have to alter your diet simply because someone else notices a different taste in your vagina.
“If a spice is smelled in your sweat or breath, it will also be present in the vaginal area,” DeLucia adds. “Once again, this would be dose dependent. The stronger and the larger volume of spice will increase the presence in the vaginal secretions.”
Though there aren’t specific scientific studies on how to improve the taste of a vagina, if you’re looking for that type of information, there are some sweet treats that people stand by, including pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, mangos, and cucumbers.
“The natural sugars found in the above mentioned fruits are known to improve the sweetness and flavor and odor of secretions,” says DeLucia.
But overall, the best way to keep your vagina healthy is to focus on keeping your pH balance in check. Probiotics are a good way to ensure things stay at the levels they should.
“Natural probiotics, as well as a good brand of over-the-counter probiotics, help to keep the natural pH balanced in the vagina,” DeLucia says.
In a previous interview, Sherry A. Ross, OB/GYN and Summer’s Eve ambassador, told Elite Daily that a cleaning routine is essential for your vagina. She said, “I like to think the vulva should have the same feminine hygiene ritual as [you] do for [your] face. It needs to be cleaned, hydrated, and moisturized with love and attention.”
Detoxification using blue LED lights can also be helpful. According to DeLucia, intimate health spas may offer a steam and a detox of the intimate area, which “clients say relaxes and helps with any odor and menstrual cramps.” The doctor says the light “has been studied to have antibacterial effects as well.”
In any case, some may still find your particular brand of taste to not be for them, while others may love it — and that’s perfectly normal. As DeLucia says, people with vaginas “secrete pheromones that attract a sexual partner, and what might seem unattractive or malodorous to you may seem absolutely irresistible to them! Be clean, feel confident, and release your inner goddess.”
Additional reporting by Kaitlin Cubria.
Jessica O’Reilly, sex & relationship expert and host of the “@SexWithDrJess” podcast
Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, partner at VSPOT, women’s intimate health spa
Cindy Barshop, founder of VSPOT
Sherry A. Ross, OB/GYN and Summer’s Eve ambassador
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