There’s no doubt that we are what we eat to a certain extent. A healthy diet has plenty of benefits, like a manageable weight and a reduced threat of disease, but just how far can we take this concept? One of the most enduring “myth versus fact” arguments is whether food can directly affect the way our vaginas taste and smell. Of course, it’s perfectly natural for women to have their own scents—sweet, sour, pungent, whatever—and we’re certainly not saying women should feel like they have to change or control theirs.
Still, if the foods you eat do affect your particular flavor or scent, we kind of want to know about it. Popular beliefs about food and vaginas include “drink pineapples to taste sweeter” and “eat Greek yogurt to avoid infection,” but I’ve read enough Reddit threads and first-person experiments to know that those theories are far from a sure bet. So, what’s the verdict on whether your diet impacts your scent? According to Michael Krychman, MD, science says “nah.”
“There is no hardcore scientific data to support the idea that specific foods that a woman eats will affect the taste, smell, or discharge within her vagina,” he says. “Most stories of food enhancing vaginal odor are old wives’ tales that do not have a foundation in medical science. Should a woman experience malodorous vaginal smells or have her partner complain, she can seek medical care for a proper gynecological evaluation and assessment.”
The causes of vaginal odor (and flavor) are wide-ranging, but some cannot be identified at home. For instance, STIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, or bacterial vaginosis (an overgrowth of bacteria) can only be properly confirmed through testing in a doctor’s office or clinic. On the other hand, yeast infections can be tested and cured through over-the-counter products and other causes like poor hygiene or a misplaced object, like a tampon, are more obvious discoveries.
Krychman also says, “Douching changes the vaginal microbiome, so it should be avoided. Home remedies are fraught with problems like increasing infections, increasing odors, and causing more symptoms like itchiness and pain. So those should likely be avoided as well.”
So, while all the pineapples in the world won’t make you smell or taste like a tropical paradise, upping your healthy food intake is never a bad idea. In the meantime, don’t go to crazy lengths trying to control your vagina’s individual essence—instead, remember that this particular body part is typically a well-oiled, self-regulating machine, so whatever you smell or taste like is probably just right for you.