How I Learned To Stop Expecting My Private To Smell Like Roses And Just Loved It For What It Is

August 23, 2012  |  


I don’t know what I’ve been expecting all these years when it comes to my love below, but I think I had the perception that v*ginas are supposed to smell like lillies. Or strawberries. Or pretty much anything that makes people smile or gives off a widely adored scent. However, mine doesn’t smell like that, and for years it made me self-conscious.

I think we’re all like that sometimes though. For instance, when we start our periods, we’re mortified at the possibility that we’re smelling like catfish instead of roses, and we worry that people who really aren’t paying us any kind of mind can pick up our less than fresh scent. Chances are, unless you’ve been working out all day while on your period and are dancing in front of folks, or passed on the opportunity to change your feminine products during the day, nobody but you can smell what you’re working with.

But for me, even when I wasn’t on my period, I was paranoid about what I smelled like. Before you try to play me, I know I didn’t smell like rancid cheese or something of that horrifying sort, but with all the Summer’s Eve ads and such telling us we’re supposed to smell like floral arrangements, I was wondering if I was as fresh as I could be. For instance, in college, as I experimented more sexually, I wasn’t as excited about my boyfriend’s choice to go down on me as most would be, because my mind wasn’t on him as much as it was on my lady parts. There came a point where I couldn’t wait for him to be done so I could stop feeling like I got caught with streaks in my underwear or something.

In an article for Women’s Health, sex educator Logan Levkoff stated that many women are self-conscious when they really don’t need to be: “We are overly sensitive and insecure about the smell of our v*ginas. And we are far harder on it than any partner would be.” It was pointed out that women are so self-conscious about the smell their bodies make that many aren’t fully enjoying 0-ral sex (“the prime gateway to orgasm”).

And that’s true about what men think of your scent. Unless you smell terrible, most men don’t find your scent to be anything but wonderful. Whenever I asked said boyfriends if I smelled any sort of way, they would say no, it just smelled like a v*ginas. Thanks, but that didn’t stop me from worrying. Going to the gynecologist was even a terribly uncomfortable thing, and not just because of the pap smear…

I bought Summer’s Eve and thought it was going to change things for the better, but in all honesty, aside from using it when finishing my cycle, these feminine washes messed with my natural odor and PH balance, only to make me smell a lot worse than I originally did. No matter what I tried or did, I was more and more uncomfortable about my lady bits than ever.

That was until I did some research and started having real conversations with other women, only to find that yes, v*ginas do smell. They all have a smell, and in fact the smell is one that men are supposed to be biologically attracted to. I learned that I’m not the only one who gets paranoid about her v*ginas from time to time. Even today, when I asked a co-worker whether or not she ever worried about the way her lady parts smelled, she laughed a hearty, loud chuckle and eventually stopped to surprisingly say, “Yes.” It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone, and in fact, Eve Ensler,  the playwright behind The V*gina Monologues, cleared the air for me in a defiant, hilarious and honest bit about it all:

“My v*gina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already. Don’t try to decorate. Don’t believe him when he tells you it smells like rose petals when it’s supposed to smell like p***y. That’s what they’re doing — trying to clean it up, make it smell like bathroom spray or a garden. All those douche sprays — floral, berry, rain. I don’t want my p***y to smell like rain. All cleaned up like washing a fish after you cook it. I want to taste the fish. That’s why I ordered it.”

After finding that my partner paid absolutely no attention to any odors or scents (he stays down there by the way *winks*) and that, per the usual, I’m not the only person who ever wondered if my ish did or didn’t stank, I’ve become pretty comfortable with my v*ginas. I know how it smells on a daily basis, and the minute it doesn’t smell that way, I’ve decided that THAT’S when I need to worry. So no, it doesn’t smell like fruits and berries and poppies and roses, but as long as it smells healthy and smells like me, I’m good. Besides, I haven’t received any complaints yet…

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  • Disgusting


  • enterer

    Since I landed here anyway, my two cents is that I once heard that a woman’s vagina is a ‘self-cleaning oven’, so to speak. That said, I’ve been turning ovens on and off with my tongue.

  • Bob

    After reading many of these comments it is notable how many people are misinformed & almost all of those making comments are in need of a massive reality check. It is like mass dose of one (several) ‘kidding themselves’.

  • Corr blimey

    JESUS F-king CHRIST. Women talk about ANYTHING these days. I’m a bloke who landed on this page by accident, (I’m sure you can guess what I was Googling).
    Honestly, you women don’t know how lucky you are to be able to talk about this deeply personal stuff to freely. Some of us blokes go through the same concerns, after all, we all want our partners to enjoy the experience.
    To give a fellas perspective on this topic, most women do smell the same. I’ve only ever had one girlfriend who smelt really bad but believe it or not, she was fully aware of it and totally unashamed of it. She would actually laugh out loud if we both got a whiff of it while laying in bed. Seriously, she didn’t care one little bit that her region was unnaturally potent and cringe worthy. Anyway, this wasn’t the reason for our break-up, but it was one of the reasons why the break-up wasn’t so hard to deal with. (Sorry, just being honest.)
    For me, the best time to have this experience is straight after my girlfriend has had a bath or shower. I don’t mind the natural smell of a women but if I’m honest I prefer the area to smell of freshly washed skin. I can literally stay down there for however long she wants if she has just had a bath. The same goes for her too. Post-bath/shower is the BEST time of day for all concerned.

  • Elle Royal

    I was so expecting something so different from this article. I glad that you get it now. Congrats for your growth.

  • dc

    Ive heard women say that in the country like near richmond va (near St. Pauls College mainly) area and probably further down south too. They say they will not wash or take a bath during their cycle because of getting infection or like they said above cold. Whomever told a woman that is really uneducated. that is cray!!!

  • Kia

    This article was awesome. I don’t care how many backflips, splits and spin kicks through gardens of poppies and waterfalls of rose water those women do in these feminine hygiene product commercials, I’m ain’t going for it! I believe that a good bath (EVERYday), regular trips to the gyno and prayer will keep it healthy and fresh! lol

  • Just Saying!!

    Omg i have been waiting for this article but was too embarrased to ask for it hehehe i needed to read this and i think many young girls do!! It can seriously create some self-esteem issues if you’re not informed!! THANKS!! 🙂

  • THANK for writing this and having the “balls” to do so. This a taboo subject for women especially black women. I feel more comfortable now because I too- worried about this same thing. I would have LOVE for u to share this at my round table discussion with my girls.

  • Eve

    How do you know when your pH is off?

    • Oder, discharge amount and color can be tell tell signs.

  • Mary 2013

    If your vagina has a pungent smell, you really need to visit the OBGYN and get tested, to ensure that you do not have any stds.

  • D’OR

    I absolutely loved this article! I had fell into the trap of Summer’s Eve and bath and body works products. Wanting my good good to smell like cotton candy and all that jaz!
    But i have stopped! I do use Dr. Bronner’s though.

  • MLS2698

    Warm water will help the cramps, and if you are afraid something will come out while in the shower, just let it follow the water down the drain.

  • Chanda

    We’re so blessed. In the OLD days showers and baths were few and in between since these posts are talking about feminine hygeine AND baths/showers. Some people were raised not to shower everyday and got used to it but it doesn’t mean they’re not using soap and water on a daily basis. There’s nothing like a warm soapy shower but a bird bath is better than nothing. Shower or soak in the tub when you can and concentrate on your lady parts and underarms.

  • Hello_Kitty81

    Why are men on here giving advice on how to keep a vagina clean as if they’re doctors? If you’re not a certified gynecologists, shut up!

  • Chanda

    i don’t know her story but she said a day without showering not bathing. she probably “washes up” in between those days? *shrugs*

  • 2cents

    LOL. I joke about that too. Well.. Sort of. I really do find myself amping up my water, pineapples and fruit game a few days before I know someone is going to be flying all up in my Bermuda triangle.

  • Maymay

    It is okay to take showers once or twice a week, but women need to sit there vaginas in a tub of warm water at least 95% of the time.

  • great article!

  • applesandoranges

    I use Summer’s Eve feminine wash “sensitive” for daily vajayjay care. It is unscented and it brings your PH levels back to being balanced. I use Dove Soap on my body though. I love the Summer’s Eve best product I’ve brought in years.


    just wash with natural plain (non flavored) yoghurt daily or a few times a week you will always be fresh, keep it trimmed down there and wear panty liners if need be

  • Interesting Article…

  • I love this!

  • bd73

    you’re really talking about two things here: internal and external. the internal is natural and unoffensive, unless something’s wrong. the external varies based on the pH of your crotch. if the the pH is off, say you’re kinda sweaty, bacteria will flock in to feast on the sweat, because the pH is too…acidic? the smell is the by-product of the bacteria’s digestion. i’ve certainly worked with people who obviously had that problem and it was loud. your options are to swab with something like an antibacterial wipe, to kill the bacteria and reset the pH on your skin or – if at all possible – get and keep your crotch dry. for some of us, this is a challenge especially in warm weather.

    personally, i used to use a bar soap from anthropologie: grapefruit and cassis, and it controlled external odor very well. i’m sorry. my pits don’t sweat much but my crotch does all the time. if i could run a hose up my pant leg and blow cool air all day, i would. but hey, real life, right?

  • Kiki R.

    Water, soap, leafy green vegetables and norforms…

    • Zan

      Norforms aren’t good, either, but I agree with mild soap, water and eating green leafy veggies…

    • Immapray4u

      Norforms are used to mask odor. If you’re washing right and you still have to use a norform something ain’t right.

  • This is great. I thought I was the only one self conscious about this.

  • Yah

    please please please NEVER EVER EVER quote again anything from the British on bathing. they are KNOWN for poor hygiene, lack of bathing, and poor body and dental hygiene as well.

    • 2cents

      Lol. Yes. Hygiene certainly means different things depending on where you are in the world.

    • Lolly

      That is a stereotype, coming from a person that actually lives in Britain and bathes everyday.

  • Treacle234

    You can shower daily, it all depends on what products you use to cleanse the skin and what temperature the water is. Come on, if it is hot outside and you are sweating bucket, how are you suppose to be clean?

  • LadeeTea

    hey this conversation just got a little funky.. too much talk of vaginas …LOL! anyone have some feminine spray to clear the air..thanks

  • pfft

    OMG!!! I thought I was alone. I remember I actually gave myself an infection from over washing. Wound up at the OB who told me my three baths a day was a bit excessive and that I had actually washed away the good bacteria along with the bad resulting in irritation. But hey, I wanted to feel and smell like those chicks on the commercials. I’m still somewhat sensitive, but trust me, after that ordeal, I know better.

    • chanela

      hell it’s not even good to shower every single day (some women shower 2 times a day everyday) you can dry out your skin n stuff that way.

      • status quo

        according to Dr. Oz the day before yesterday do not bath with hot hot water and moisturize as soon as you come out the shower and only wash areas that have odors.

        • Kellzzzz

          Yeah moisturizing right after a bath helps your skin to remain moisturized and extremely soft.. I would moisturize after my showers and I would have guys ask me why I do that and I am like huh why not. You claim to love my skin and this is why. I am not going lotion up for appearance.. Some people just don’t know how to take of their bodies.

      • Treacle234

        Some women shower twice a week……..that’s funky given the times we live in. Try living in a Bahamas or any other tropical country during the dry season. Trust me when the heat hits you, will gladly welcome showering twice a day.

        • island_reign

          I know that’s right! I live in The Bahamas, and some fays it gets so hot I return to the shower whilst dressing to head out!
          When you know your body and you learn to adjust to the temperatureon these islands you will learn that one bath per day is NOT enough…and during my ‘monthly’ I swear I live in the shower! Lol!

  • Shay

    Women need to understand their natural smell. If it smells like fish, it’s most likely an infection and a visit to the gynecologist is necessary.

    • Kellzzzz

      Yuor right, Vagina has a natural sent. No vagina smells like flowers lol (where does ppl get that idea). If it smells liek a fish market something is wrong yes but it should have a light smell that if you can stand it your man will too…

      • Kellzzzz

        Your. Like

      • TRUTH IS

        Actually, the natural scent (not fishy scent) was/is made to attract men. Thats why men dive in lol

  • I truly believe if you keep your insides clean, washing your outsides with soap and water will keep you good to go!

    Just eat like you should, and drink half your body weight in water.

    Try drinking some cranberry juice (unsweetened unless with Stevia), keep your microflora balanced (digestive health- like acidophilus & Bifidum chewables) keep your PH Balance under control, and use mild soap & water all over, but not all up in your vagina.

    I’m not gonna let them summer eve commercials/ads mess my goodies up.

    • anony

      I’m sorry, soap and water on the vajay-jay ALL DAY LONG. Just dont use the perfumed ones. plain Jergens or Ivory, preferrably Jergens. Also, during your “monthly” as my granny called it, TWICE a day Ladies! when you wake up and before you go to bed. Use feminine wet wipes throughout the day when changing “napkins”.
      I never have a smell issue outside of periods unless there IS an issue. ya heard!?

      • Yah

        for soap, use Dove brands. it’s moisturizing and non-irritating or drying.

        otherwise, all i have to say is that the graphic-ness and crassness of this article was disgusting!

        • Zan

          Talking about your body is “graphic” and “crass”?! Wow…that’s a new one on me…

          • Yah

            Talking about “streaks in underwear” is beyond disgusting. You can write an open article without being totally crass and classless.

        • Immapray4u

          Yeah she could have spared me with all that going down mess.Lord.

  • linda

    . Some of these women use half a dozen products to clean their vagina.
    You would think that it was a hazmat area. I kept wondering what the
    heck is up with this? ~ blackwhiteplanet _℃om ~~~~~ is for thousands of upscale men and beautiful
    women, who understand that ambition, success, and glamour are key elements of
    attraction. It’s worth a try!Why do they exist when everyone is saying they aren’t healthy? Anyway,
    since I stopped I have not had one yeast infection since. I now know
    what is my natural scent and when things are off. Good article.

  • bits

    I know how mine smells and tastes 🙂

    • christinasade

      well alright LOL…

    • Kellzzzz

      LMAO… You know how your cooch tastes. .Alrighty then

  • CocoBrown

    Nice read. I think we’ve all been self conscious about this at some point in our lives. Our normal body flora is as different as the next woman’s. What we eat, what products we bath in, how much exercise we’re getting and the amount of water we drink plays a part in the way our cookies smell. One thing that I’ve learned that helps tremendously is brazilian waxing. Eliminating hair reduces drastically the amount of sweating = no odor!

    • 2cents

      Yep. When I can’t wax I Veet myself. I am a fan of no hair for the simple fact that hair holds on to any smell that is there (from sweat, end of cycle, sex, etc). When I wipe off the hair with a paper towel any old smells leave along with the hair. It’s great. I feel happier and cleaner and ready for action.

  • lady

    I love this article but I hope this doesn’t steer women to think it’s ok to miss showers or bath’s. I always grew up believing that if you can’t shower you HAVE take a bird bath brush your teeth, wash you face and most importantly wash your lady parts some people do a cloth but usually a pitcher over the toilet is better, all that take no more then 15 mins then you can get to where ever you want. All my friends did it coming from a diverse place like Queens, NY it was normal to go to someone’s hse and seeing a pitcher in there bathroom, but in my college years I left home saw how other cultures in America lived and it wasn’t pretty. I notice some of my roommates and friends just got up and brushed there teeth wash there face and worried more about putting on makeup then there lady parts and let not talk about the horrible smells that came from the hamper if you know what I mean. They would ask questions as why I have a pitcher in the BR or how do you wash there over the toilet. I think in America there needs to be more ways to teach women about there vagina’s and how to keep it clean.

    • Maylow

      Pitcher over the toilet?

    • KingJames

      You realize in 15 minutes you could have just taken a damn shower! WTF????

      • cheekee baby

        LMAO! I was thinking the same thing. The time it takes you to fill a pitcher up pour it over your va jay jay you could have just hopped your happy butt into a shower soaped it up and rinsed it off.

    • MLS2698

      I’ve taken bird baths. But pitchers over the toilet? Do you have a bidet, too?

    • never heard of the pitcher method….do u still use tissue? are wipes ok to use? (baby wipes that is)

  • Amen!

  • Lola

    I thank you so much for this article. I was totally about to seek counseling because I thought something was wrong with me… It’s extremely difficult to talk about. Even some of my closest girlfriends don’t even know.. and the one I opened up to couldn’t help but laugh. So I am grateful that I am not the only one that is out there that is feeling this way. You just made me more comfortable with my situation.. Thanks.

  • Guest

    Your vagina should not be stinking like fish. When you open your legs your vagina shouldn’t be stinking the whole room. If you take off your pants and the crotch smell do a better job at cleaning yourself. And please shower when you have your menstrual cycle. I have had women tell me they do not shower when they get their periods. They say they don’t want to catch a cold in their vaginas. Smh do better this is America when you turn the faucet water comes out.

    • Shay

      Catch cold in the vagina? LOL. I never heard that before.

  • Is It 5:00 Yet?

    Yes…women don’t realize that douching can kill not only the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria in the v a g i n a. It is a self-cleaning organ so there is no need to do all of that extensive cleaning.

  • You get 600 milly props for the Vagina Monologues quote. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH! YES!!!

  • This is a great article. Alot of women get high strung when it comes to this sort of thing and they have to realize their body isnt perfect, meaning it wont smell perfect

  • She clean!

    STOP THE PRESS! Such a good write. At first, embarrassingly true and honest-but then freeing. Thank you.

  • regulartwat

    im so confused right now.



    • Zan

      If you constantly eat sugar, you’re asking for a raging yeast infection…



    • Oh So Nice

      Who does that lol!! But two days is a bit much scent or no scent. One day is already pushing it. 2 days no shower is so……… fill in the blank. But toddles to you for thinking its cool to not shower for two days. I wouldn’t feel clean the least bit, can’t say the same for you. Who brags about that?

      • anony

        right! sound like the the chic from “Mama Drama”… “I haven’t taken a shower since we’ve been here…” “…it’s been 4 days”. #justflabbergasted smh

    • status quo

      I think if you are fat and rubbing it doesn’t allow the pum pum to catch some breeze. I agree with you totally it is what you eat plus exercise plays a big role. When pass gas, it doesn’t smell. I love me some spinach and beef liver. Not bathing for two days is just crazy

    • anony

      *raisedeyebrow* about the “skipping a shower” part. smh. ladies ladies ladies…NEVER skip daily bathing. thats a no no for a LADY!

  • Thanks, cause I felt like that for a long time until my Gyn. told me Summer Eve was not made for our bodies. God knew what he was doing when he made our vaginas. Like my grandma use to say “a good soap and water will do the trick” and she ain’t never lied……

    • Kellzzzz

      Yes, our va ja ja self cleans itself. Regular baths will always do the trick and clean underwears. What I have learned too is the material under wears that we wear with the detergents that we wash with can also cause odor…

    • amen! thank goodness our mom never introduced that crap to her daughters.

  • FromUR2UB

    Some women who leave public restrooms SHOULD be worried about their smell. When it’s funking up a whole room, they either need to shower more frequently or see a doctor. Women should make yogurt or keffir and cranberry juice a regular part of their diet. Those will help it stay healthy.

    • Guest

      True. I work in a department store and the bathroom in the store just stinks to high heavens. When these women come out the stall smells like fish.

      • FromUR2UB

        Yeah, and even a fish doesn’t smell really fishy until it’s a couple days old. I think some of those women need to wash more frequently.

      • MLS2698

        The fish smell often comes from a Ph imbalance due to some women douching. But they won’t give it up because grandma told them to always douche.

        • FromUR2UB

          Ask a gynecologist. They have to stick their heads down there to work. They can tell you that some women just don’t wash as often as they should. They’d probably appreciate even a wipe with a disposable cleansing cloth before the appointment. If a woman only douches once monthly with the old fashioned vinegar and water, after her cycle ends, it shouldn’t hurt her. I’ve been doing it that way most of my life and never had a problem from it. But, the women who disrupt their natural flora from douching, are usually doing it too frequently, every week or every few days. Too much douching, perfumed sprays, and certain types of soaps can cause problems.

          • cheekee baby

            You are never supposed to douche. I throws off your PH and more importantly removes the healthy bacteria that keep the bad (and stinky) bacteria at bay. You also open yourself up to yeast infections. As long as you’re healthy and your body will naturally clean itself. Nothing beyond normal washing is necessary.

            • BOB

              Another ‘cop out’. It is sad to think it is a good possibility you may lose many lovers befor finding love & then it may take an awakening to keep your man.

        • Bob

          That is a ‘cop out’ !!!

    • LA2DC777

      I agree, but I also think its all the various smells that build up in the stall/ toilet throughout the day that cause that public bathroom smell that is really unique to the woman’s restroom lol.

    • sadie

      Those are called bacterial infections. They are worst after having sex when semen hits the inside of the vagina……………the room will smell like a landfill.

  • Treacle234

    Agreed, every one has their own scent. As long as you have regular check ups and you are infection free, take daily showers you should be good to go. Nothing to worry about. This was a good article, until the author started using the term p***y. It is a Vagina, no need to be offended by it. It is the approved term.

    • Shay

      I think she was quoting from the Vagina Monologues.

  • guestdfw

    I died laughing but this article is the truth. I used to have alot of yeast infections until I went to a OB/GYN 15 years ago and was told to stop using those fem products. Why do they exist when everyone is saying they aren’t healthy? Anyway, since I stopped I have not had one yeast infection since. I now know what is my natural scent and when things are off. Good article.

    • Cinnamon71

      I used to have a problem with yeast infections, too. When I started eating more plain yogurt regularly and tweaked my diet a bit, they stopped. I haven’t had another one since and this was 20 yrs ago.

    • LadeeTea

      they exist because women buy them, BECAUSE we want our lady parts to smell flowery know.. like lavender and mango…watermelon and cucumbers, peaches and cream.. yeah we drank the kool-aid

  • Nehemiah53

    Stop letting deference men mix there seed up in your Vagina then it
    want smell so bad, in other word respect yourselves ladies.

    • MLS2698

      I swear somebody stole your password. And they can’t spell, either.

      • Nehemiah53

        You know what I mean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hello_Kitty81

    I used to d0uche until my cousin (him being a gynecologist) told me that d0uching can dry my vagina out and the secretions clean the vagina. I used to spray there too but I stopped.

  • Kitsy

    I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve noticed a surprising number of black vloggers on YouTube doing “How to Make Your Vagina Smell Good” and “How To Clean Your Vagina” type of videos. Some of these women use half a dozen products to clean their vagina. You would think that it was a hazmat area. I kept wondering what the heck is up with this? Basic hygiene (i.e. washing with a non-harsh soap daily, properly drying and trimming the hair) should be enough. I douche after my cycle, but I don’t use sprays or powders down there (they actually smell embarrassingly strong and really bad to me).

    • black women tend to suffer from poor hygiene.

      • lyss


      • Thank you, Uncle Ruckus.

      • sexcgenius

        You might want to start dating outside the family.

      • Chanda

        Speak for yourself..

      • TRUTH IS

        Cus only black women have vaginas?!? Am betting, you are as dumb as you look!!

      • MLS2698

        Hell you doing over here? Everyone, this is the resident black woman hater who is usually on the sister site, Bossip.

    • hehe

      douching is probably the worst thing you can to your vagina. It actually changes your vagina ph and can cause vaginal irritation and cause it to smell.

    • Sane here. Douching and showing is all I need and Ive never gotten any complaints from any guy I’ve dated. Sometimes women do to much and make it way worse. I tried feminine wash and it does make it way worse.

  • gracie

    Oh wow, it’s funny I just had this conversation with my bf last night. He was mad that I always stop him at the heat of the moment in the name of I have to take a shower. I swear he said that every vagina has a smell even beyonce’s lol!

    • Nehemiah53

      What smell bad to you might be a turn on and smell good to him.

      • dc

        Damn good thoughts ladies….Way to put in perspective esp w/ the beyonce comment…lol too funni and well said..

        • Nehemiah53

          Thanks, now days it’s all about the women, what she want, what she her friends thinks and in some cases rightfully so, our [men] opinion is not
          valued so smart men just tell women what they want to hear so we can get
          what we need and want then move on to stay out of trouble!

  • Shaquille

    You really just touched on a subject that many people are afraid to talk about but I love it!!!

    • dc

      yesss.. So glad i read this…

  • IllyPhilly

    This title needs to be trademarked! LOL. I love it!

  • A Very Thankful Cookie Jar

    This article really spoke to me. Please continue to post more uplifting and informative pieces like this.