- Amy Roskin, MD, JD, board-certified OB/GYN and chief medical officer at Seven Starling
- Christie Cobb, MD, Arkansas-based gynecologist, intimacy expert, and sexual wellness doctor
- Jen Gunter, MD, OB/GYN and pain medicine physician
- Jess O'Reilly, PhD, sexologist and relationship expert
- Monica Grover, DO, MS, board-certified gynecologist and medical director at VSPOT Medi Spa
- Rebecca Alvarez Story, sexologist and founder of Bloomi
How can you tell if your vagina smells 'normal?'
First, it's worth noting that there's certainly no rule for what any vagina should (or shouldn't) smell or taste like. Just like the people who have them, vaginas are all naturally unique and a whole host of factors can determine how your vagina smells and tastes, says double-board-certified gynecologist Monica Grover, DO, medical director at VSPOT medi spa. What is 'normal' for one person may not be normal for another. At the same time, taste is subjective, so what one oral sex-giver might deem pleasant, another might not.
All of that said, there's not really any reason, per se, to start messing with the taste (or smell, for that matter) of your vagina, whether to purportedly improve it or otherwise. Even so, mainstream culture has unfortunately pushed many people with vaginas to think otherwise.
"People are fascinated with the topic of eating pineapple to change the taste of their vagina because we tend to be overly self-conscious about how we smell and taste during sex," says sexologist Rebecca Alvarez Story, founder of sexual-wellness marketplace Bloomi. In fact, a 2019 survey of 1,000 people who identify as women found that two-thirds of them have turned down sex due to concerns about the scent of their vagina. But, again, a vagina doesn't need to smell or taste particularly sweet or floral or anything else. "It's a vagina, not a piña colada," gynecologist Jen Gunter, MD, previously told Well+Good.
That said, certain elements of your lifestyle, including what you eat, could affect the usual taste and smell of your vagina (whatever that might be) by altering your vaginal pH and, in turn, supporting the growth of healthy bacteria...or doing just the opposite. "The scent of vaginal discharge can range from normal physiology to abnormal pH, bacterial overgrowth, sexual fluids, exposure to detergents and lubricants, sexually transmitted infections, and even hydration status," says gynecologist and sexual-wellness expert Christie Cobb, MD. For example, intercourse through sexual penetration or even experiencing a period can change the balance of your pH, as can lifestyle habits such as using certain products like feminine washes or even a build up of sweat and discharge from not showering after a workout.
Given all this, it makes sense that consuming pineapple, which is quite acidic, could have an effect on the pH of a vagina and therefore affect how it tastes and smells. However, adding more pineapple to your diet is not a panacea for a sweeter smelling or tasting vagina because "even if two people have the same exact pH, one may not smell like the other person's because of our own individual physiologies," says Dr. Grover.
That's why a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods is generally linked to a healthy V (and, perhaps, "good" vaginal taste) whereas a diet lacking in those nutrients could lead to an imbalance in the bacteria in your bits and maybe a different taste, too.
Does pineapple change the smell of the vagina and vaginal discharge?
With all this said, where exactly does that leave pineapple in the vagina-taste and smell department? Because your vaginal pH depends on so many factors, it's possible that pineapple could change the smell and taste of the vagina and its discharge in a way that you may like, but it's not a guarantee.
Though there aren't any specific studies on the connection between eating pineapple and having a vagina that tastes "good" (again, a tough thing to measure, anyway), research does support that "fermented, just as yogurt and kombucha can," says OB/GYN Amy Roskin, MD, JD, chief medical officer at Seven Starling, a mental health provider serving mothers and caregivers. And again, healthy bacteria is what a vagina thrives on, so a good bacterial abundance could theoretically keep a vagina from taking on a funkier or stronger odor than it typically has.
"Experienced tasters do report that when you eat sweet fruits, vegetables, and herbs, it seems to heighten the sugary flavor of vaginal fluids and ejaculate." —Jess O'Reilly, PhD, sexologist
When it comes to regular old pineapple and pineapple juice, though, the intel is more anecdotal. "Experienced tasters—or folks who've tasted many a lover's juices—do report that when you eat sweet fruits [like pineapple], vegetables, and herbs, it seems to heighten the sugary flavor of vaginal fluids and ejaculate," says sexologist Jess O'Reilly, PhD, host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast. "They also suggest that smoking2, caffeine, and processed foods can result in a more bitter vaginal taste," she says, speaking of her clients. For the same reason, Dr. Grover says pineapple may affect the smell and taste of semen by altering the pH. "It's probably for the same reason and with males their fluids are more alkaline, so you're adding higher fructose and glucose levels which makes it a little bit more acidic," she says.
However, these anecdotal associations of pineapple making the vagina taste and smell better nod to the aforementioned benefit for your vagina of just following an overall healthy lifestyle—of which pineapple can certainly be a part. Eating pineapple has a multitude of health benefits, says Dr. Roskin, like fighting inflammation, promoting tissue healing, and boosting your immune system. Not to mention, pineapples are also notably composed of between 85 and 89 percent water, and "staying hydrated is also crucial to promoting natural vaginal lubrication," says Dr. Roskin. The more lubricated your vagina is, the more diluted its secretions may be, potentially cutting some of the tang from its taste.
When to talk to a doctor about vaginal smells
If you notice any big odor changes from your usual smell (or, perhaps, a partner does), it's a good idea to consult your doctor.
"If you start to experience a bad or fish-like odor in your vagina, this could be a sign of a medical condition—like an infection or bacterial vaginosis," says Dr. Roskin. According to Dr. Grover, yeast infections typically are marked by itching and discharge that has the consistency and appearance of cottage cheese, while bacterial infections are more typically associated with an odor. The cure for these is not pineapple, but rather going to the doctor for help.
It's a really good idea to reach out to your doctor, according to Dr. Grover, if you experience a change in smell paired with other symptoms such as itching, discomfort, or more discharge than usual because something else may be up. "I can't necessarily say if it's going to smell a specific way something is off because it could just mean that's normal for you, but if it's out of the norm I would say do some investigation," says Dr. Grover.
So in conclusion, feel free to add pineapple to your diet and see what happens.
Want to incorporate more pineapple into your diet? Check out this video for a healthy pineapple upside down cake recipe:
- Toan Nguyen, Bao. “Probiotic Beverage From Pineapple Juice Fermented With Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Strains.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 6, 2016, https://doi.org/doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00054.
- Brotman, Rebecca M et al. “Association between cigarette smoking and the vaginal microbiota: a pilot study.” BMC infectious diseases vol. 14 471. 28 Aug. 2014, doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-471
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