Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Iron? Let's Ask An Expert


There is a lot that goes on with your lady garden. It's a veritable cornucopia of flora and activity that causes it to shift and change, making it feel, smell, and even taste differently. Sometimes, it's benign and sometimes it's more worrisome. When the smell is out of the ordinary, like an iron or metallic odor, you're likely concerned. Wondering, "Why does my vagina smell like iron?" It's actually not as strange as you think.

According to Feminism and Psychology, your vagina is as changing as the seas, and it's completely normal to experience subtle shifts in aroma due to things like sexual intercourse, pregnancy, bacterial changes and flora growth, and where you're at in your menstrual cycle. Also, Evolution and Human Behavior noted that a lot of what constitutes the smell of your vagina is just a happenstance of your body chemistry. In other words, your yoni is as unique as you are, including its smell.

Not surprisingly, there've been several studies revolving around vaginal fragrance. It's not only an important diagnostic tool, but historically, especially in America, women are really concerned with having the ideal vagina. Feminism and Psychology added that women are hyper aware of the look and smell of their vagina because the idea of the perfect vagina has somehow embedded itself into the female subconscious, making the studies inescapable, regardless of the fact that there is no ideal vagina. Because, honestly, they're all pretty amazing.

Those studies do serve a greater purpose beyond soothing our collective subconscious, though. By decoding the flora of the vagina, not only are doctors able to diagnose and treat conditions more effectively, they also serve to make women's health a priority, which it hasn't always been, historically speaking. The flora, or microbiome of the vagina, is multiform and intricate, and therefore given to peculiarities, such as a metallic aroma. When you're trying to decipher why your vagina smells like iron, it's easiest to ask an expert because there's so much conflicting information available.

I spoke with DNP Dr. Carol Douglas of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so that you won't have to wade through the hundreds of pages of studies available. She tells Romper, "The most common reason your vagina may have an iron-y or metallic odor is because of your period. A few days leading up to it, during it, and a few days afterwards, it's completely normal to notice a metallic aroma. It's because there's a lot of iron in the blood, and that's a strong scent."

She says that another cause might be slightly more nefarious, like a bacterial or yeast infection. She notes that while yeast infections often don't come with a strong smell, that doesn't mean there can't be one. "If you're noticing any itchiness or foul discharge, it's likely due to some sort of infection, and it's best treated by your provider. If the discharge is really heavy or purulent, it might be something more serious."

In the case of pregnancy, Douglas adds that it's not uncommon to have an iron smell after sexual intercourse because of all of the blood vessels full and near the surface in your vaginal canal. "Because you often spot after sex when you're pregnant, the smell might be there, even if you don't notice any blood. But if there's a lot of blood, you need to call your OB or midwife."

At the end of your pregnancy, the smell may return as your cervical mucus plug detaches. The blood in the bloody show is also iron-rich and fragrant, and not all of it is removed with the mucus.

Metallic odors don't feel like something that is normal and acceptable due to our association of metallic scents and blood, but if you think about it, that seems pretty normal for a vagina as it's their natural state a quarter of the time. If you think it's abnormal, you can call your doctor for peace of mind or possible treatment.

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