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Vaginal Health - Overview | November 21, 2022, 6:00 CST

What Does a Healthy Vagina Taste Like?

The answer is probably exactly what you think it is.
An oversized unpeeled grapefruit sits in front of a man with his tongue out to lick it.
Illustration by Tré Carden

Editor's note: Some of the sources for this article requested their full names and locations not be used.

I know what my vagina tastes like. Recognizing the limitations of my sample size, however, I polled my social media followers to learn what other vaginas taste like. As you might imagine, reviews of female genital flavor profiles varied widely.

"Literally? A [vagina tastes like] a mix of piss/sweat/funk with a hint of soap if she's considerate or optimistic," said Greg, a 40-something man in Austin, Texas. "Metaphysically, it ranges between instant regret and eternal gratitude."

"Salty honey," said a 33-year-old woman from San Francisco. "It's the best taste ever."

"From sweet to lemon acid-like," said Duck, a 42-year-old man in Croatia. "Everyone is different."

"Paradise," was the succinct response of Saúl, a 60-year-old man in Massachusetts.

Angela Jones, M.D., an OB-GYN at Healthy Woman in New Jersey, laughed when asked how a healthy vagina should taste.

"Vaginas taste like vaginas," Jones said simply.

"[Vaginas] can smell like the owner, which can be impacted by hygiene, diet, etcetera. If you are an asparagus eater or someone who consumes a lot of curry, for example, your vagina and discharge may be reflective of that," Jones added.

The vagina prefers to be acidic because of the natural bacteria that live there, Jones noted. A healthy vaginal pH level falls in the 3.8 to 4.5 range, or moderately acidic, which creates metallic or battery-like flavors. Vaginas tend to taste more metallic or copper penny-like right before or after menstruation, as blood can elevate the vaginal pH.

Jones also emphasized what a healthy vagina shouldn't taste like.

"Vaginas are not bouquets of flowers, bottles of perfume, fruit baskets or your favorite food," Jones said.

Contrary to popular belief, Jones noted, you don't need feminine washes, wipes or deodorants that promise to make your vagina smell and taste like "Berry Bliss" or "Bubblegum Waterfalls" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

How to keep your vagina tasting like a healthy vagina

"Vaginal hygiene is super-easy because less is more," Jones said.

Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a gynecologist and clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, agreed, calling the vagina "a self-cleaning oven."

"The vagina, in general, needs very little cleaning, and you especially don't want to use most harsh soaps that have a very basic pH," Minkin added.

In lieu of using fragrant soaps or vaginal cleansers, rinsing your vagina with warm water alone can get the job done without disrupting the vaginal's natural pH. But if you feel weird going soapless, using a fragrance-free, gentle soap is permissible.

In particular, Minkin advised against using flavored products in the vaginal area.

"If they are sweet or sugared, [flavored products] could lead to yeast infections. Remember, yeast love sugars!" Minkin said.

Above all, avoid douching or otherwise washing inside your vagina, said Carol Queen, Ph.D., the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, a sex toy retailer based in San Francisco.

"Vaginas are not meant to be washed out with substances that change the pH," Queen explained. "It is not a safe practice. It's thought to be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis, at least. And it's highly unlikely to make you taste better."

Queen and Jones both emphasized how diet can impact vaginal secretions.

"I do believe there is some credence to the saying 'You are what you eat,'" Jones said. "What you consume can certainly impact the way your body fluids smell and, perhaps, taste."

In addition, Queen and Jones both stressed the importance of hydration.

"Water is probably the most important variable of all [for flavor], particularly given a healthy person who is not taking medication," Queen said.

When to see an OB-GYN

Persistent strong odors and irritation in the vagina might merit a visit to a medical professional.

"Some STIs and other vaginal conditions can change the vaginal environment in noticeable ways and signal a problem," Queen said. "Any conditions that might result in a vaginal discharge could potentially affect smell and/or taste, since these can signal that the vaginal environment is out of balance or there are pathogens present that have caused an infection or similar response."

Queen named bacterial vaginosis (BV) specifically as a condition that can cause the vagina to taste "off" or fishy.

"Candidiasis, aka yeast infection, can cause a yeasty smell," she continued. "Gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis are all pathogen-based and can cause vaginal issues if you contract them."

Queen had this parting thought related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other vaginal health issues:

"It's a really good idea for everyone with a vagina to tune in and learn about its normal state, as well as the way it might change across the menstrual cycle," Queen said. "This accomplishes a couple of things: It can normalize vaginal odor and flavor, help you notice when things are not normal—at which point, you might take steps to find out if you have a problem, get care, choose to use barriers for sex and so on—and basically equip you with more tools to feel good about your body and take care of it."