Understanding vaginal tastes (the good and the bad)

A pineapple is pouring out yoghurt into a pool in a beautiful garden, to illustrate delicious vaginal flavours!

If you or your lover’s vagina tastes bad, but smells fine, you have a different kind of problem on your hands, an altogether more complex issue.

Taste and smell are so important in our sexual enjoyment, and vaginal flavours can really change how you feel about your own vagina or your lover’s, and impact your sexual experience.

There are two prongs to this vaginal taste chat. The first is if you have tasted your own vaginal fluids and find them distasteful and want tips on how to improve the taste, and the second is for those of you who have encountered a vagina with a certain unpleasant flavour and want more information.

What are we actually tasting in the vagina?

The vagina itself is simply tissue – skin and mucous membranes, which don’t taste like anything really. It’s the vaginal discharge that you’re tasting, which is made up of secretions from the cervix and vagina, glands (Skene’s glands and Bartholin’s glands), shedding vaginal and cervical cells, and bacteria​1​.

The bacteria produce all sorts of flavours and odours, with one main flavour of a healthy (lactobacilli-rich) vagina being that of lactic acid. But most of the fluid comes from the cervix, right up at the end of the vagina, connecting to the uterus​2​.

A normal vagina is estimated to produce half a teaspoon of vaginal discharge every day, which comes out with gravity​2​.

During sexual arousal and sexual activity, the blood vessels surrounding the vagina fill up with blood, causing extracellular fluid to be pushed into the vaginal canal, increasing fluid levels.

The taste of the vagina during sex will therefore change to a more neutral flavour since these fluids are freshly produced and are without any noticeable odour or taste.

The importance of taste in sexual interactions

We taste each other from the very beginning of sexual relationships with kissing. We can taste and smell each other’s bodies, and according to the now famous t-shirt sniffing research​3​, get a glimpse into the genetics and health of a potential mate.

People often have very strong preferences for what parts of their partners they’ll allow near their mouth, even when turned on. We produce a lot of fluids that a partner might come into contact with: sweat, mucous, blood, vaginal fluids, semen, penile and clitoral smegma, menstrual blood, tears, breast milk, urine, and ear wax.

An interesting Danish study asked male and female premedical students to reveal which of each secretion they would or wouldn’t allow on their tongue in two circumstances with their ‘loved’ partner: when sexually aroused and when not sexually aroused.

Key findings of the body fluids taste study include:

  • The very heterosexual men and mostly heterosexual women all had no issues tasting sweat, tears or saliva, turned on or not.
  • When it came to breast milk, most guys would taste it either way, but more so when turned on (83% vs 69%), while just over 70% of women would taste their own breast milk in both scenarios, but only 24% would taste someone else’s when they were aroused.
  • 76% of the women would taste their own vaginal fluid, but only 29% would taste someone else’s
  • 97% of the men would taste vaginal fluid
  • High percentages were seen for both groups for small amounts of systemic blood (from a vein), but when this changed to menstrual blood, interest levels waned significantly – 39% of males would taste menstrual blood, and 33% of women
  • With semen, 84% of the women would taste it while aroused, while 50% of aroused males would taste their own, but only 6% would taste the semen of someone else
  • Nearly 70% of women would taste penile smegma, but only 3% of aroused men would taste the smegma of another man
  • Ear wax from tonguing someone’s ear was acceptable for 81% of aroused males and 78% of females, while both groups lost interest (36% and 35%, respectively) once not aroused
  • With nasal secretions, half of us are perfectly happy to eat our own snot, but a surprising number would taste someone else’s when turned on (20%)

There are no published studies where women claim to love the taste of fresh ejaculate.

Common reported tastes of vaginas

NOTE: It’s important to know that no study has been performed on the taste of vaginal fluids, and we don’t know what ‘healthy’ means except if we have a vaginal microbiome report to help us. The taste of a healthy vagina may vary wildly.

  • No taste
  • Sour, yoghurty, tangy
  • Metallic
  • Fleshy
  • Fishy
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Bitter

How what we eat and drink affects the taste of the vagina

Vaginal taste and smell tend to reflect what we eat, drink and smoke. We’re talking about the fluids the body naturally produces. It’s part of us, our body odour, made inside our bodies, like sweat.

Vaginal taste may be alterable. It is well known that men can change the taste of semen temporarily by eating and drinking differently (pineapple, anyone?). Ask any man who has gone down on a vegan woman, and they’ll tell you unequivocally that vegans taste better.

Elements that change the way the vagina tastes include smoking, booze, broccoli, asparagus, onions, garlic, some spices, red meat, and junk food.

Unsurprisingly, fruit and vegetables and clean living make vaginas taste nicer. Pineapple also works on vaginas for a sweeter juice taste in some people.

If you have an aversion to the particular flavours of yours or someone else’s vagina, well, if you’re not into it, you’re not into it. Some of us like chocolate, some of us don’t.

Asking a lover to make diet changes to change vaginal flavours will depend very heavily on the type of relationship you have. It’s best to frame this as a fun experiment you both partake in equally.

How to introduce vaginal taste experiments with a lover

  • Tell your lover you want to see if vaginal fluids change flavour by eating more pineapple – you do it too. This is a fun game. Don’t mention your views on the current flavour if it is not complimentary. Obviously.
  • Vaginal probiotics can be super helpful at encouraging good-smelling vaginal bacteria – this is one way you may definitely taste the difference, and can use positive feedback (“Wow! You taste so delicious now, holy crap!”) to encourage consideration of how bacteria affect vaginal flavours.
  • Introduce live fermented foods to the diet to introduce probiotic bacteria via food – do your own vaginal taste tests to see if you can see the change.

How the menstrual cycle can affect vaginal taste

The menstrual cycle shifts vaginal microflora, and that may result in a variety of flavours during the cycle. Tastes and smells can be stronger depending on the hormonal phase and may be richer around menstrual bleeding.

Tangy, sour vaginal taste

Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which is what makes yoghurt – and vaginas – tangy. A slightly acidic, sour taste is characteristic of a vagina with protective lactobacilli species. You want these. But yeast might also produce a sour taste.

Managing your expectations

Don’t expect miracles. If you just don’t like the taste of your or someone else’s vaginal fluids, that’s ok. Nobody is obsessed with guzzling semen for its wonderful flavour, either.

But, don’t underestimate the power of your nose and mouth to lead you to healthy and compatible sexual partners.

You’re in the right place if you love their smell and taste. If it seems a bit off, try to talk about it if you can, and if you can’t, always use a condom and avoid getting vaginal bacteria in your mouth.

The mouth is a lot like a vagina in tissue, and dental issues and vaginal issues can be quite similar. Some bacteria passed between sexual partners this way.

Partying and fast food

Crappy food, booze, drugs and smoking can alter the bacterial balance, leading to vaginas tasting or smelling a bit off. Partiers are gonna party, so adding in a course of oral probiotics can be a safe, easy way to help encourage a healthy balance.

Being honest – would you want someone to tell you?

If you feel like you or your lover’s diet and lifestyle may be contributing negatively to vaginal flavour, perhaps some positive changes are in order. With a partner, be tactful, keep the chat positive and give positive reinforcement.

See how to tell your girlfriend she has bad vag for more help in having tricky chats about vaginas.  


  1. 1.
    Rice A, ElWerdany M, Hadoura E, Mahmood T. Vaginal discharge. Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Medicine. Published online November 2016:317-323. doi:10.1016/j.ogrm.2016.08.002
  2. 2.
    Baltimore M, Beckmann R. Vaginal Discharge. In: Obstetrics and Gynecology (7th Ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.; 2014:260.
  3. 3.
    Wedekind C, Füri S. Body odour preferences in men and women: do they aim for specific MHC combinations or simply heterozygosity? Proc R Soc Lond B. Published online October 22, 1997:1471-1479. doi:10.1098/rspb.1997.0204
  4. 4.
    Graziottin A. Vaginal biological and sexual health – the unmet needs. Climacteric. Published online September 14, 2015:9-12. doi:10.3109/13697137.2015.1079408

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)