Tangy, fermented, or sour are perfectly healthy words to describe the vaginal odor created by a balanced bacterial flora.

Good bacteria help keep a vagina healthy by producing lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other substances to keep harmful bacteria at bay. They help maintain vaginal pH levels by keeping it on the acidic side – between 3.8 and 4.5 for non-menopausal women and between 4.5 and 6 for those in menopause – to ward off the overgrowth of yeast and other harmful bacteria.

A metallic vaginal odor could be due to blood from menstruation or light bleeding after sex traveling through your vaginal canal. Blood contains iron, which explains the smell of metal.

A Bittersweet odor that comes off smelling a little like tangy gingerbread may be a normal bacteria in a bit of flux, affecting your pH balance and, therefore your aroma.

A bleachy or chemical vaginal odor could be attributed to a bit of urine in your underwear or around your vulva.

There are also Unhealthy Vaginal Odors to be aware of.

If a vaginal odor is running foul, like a fishy smell, it may be a sign of a more serious condition. A bacterial infection can occur when a healthy lactobacilli gets out of balance and grows too much. Symptoms may include thin vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell and a little itching or burning when urinating.

A sexually transmitted infection, is another possible explanation for a heavy fishy vaginal odor. Women with trichomoniasis may notice genital itching, burning, redness or soreness; urinary discomfort; and a clear, white, yellowish, or greenish vaginal discharge.

A forgotten tampon could be the cause of a putrid vaginal odor. A woman may experience additional symptoms.

Learn more about the Benefits of a Balanced Microbiome