The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Sexclamations: Vaginal Scent Can Attract or Repel Men

3 min read

If you are a woman or have ever shared intimate moments with a woman, you have probably noticed a peculiar aroma around the lady parts. Afroman once likened it to a fish market in his song, “Colt 45.” “The Vagina Monologues” angrily noted that it does not and should not smell like rose petals.

Certainly, vaginas do not always smell terrific. On the other hand, if your vaginal odor is more like a vaginal stench, that could be indicative of an infection or STD. In general, however, every woman has her own unique scent, which can vary throughout her menstrual cycle.

Studies show that vaginal scent is “less unpleasant” during preovulatory and ovulatory phases.

Likewise, a study by Tarin and Gomez-Piquer presented evidence that “men find the scent of women at mid-cycle more pleasant and sexually attractive” than other phases in the menstrual cycle.

According to a study on how smells influence sexual health, “attraction based on scent isn’t just reserved for heterosexual couples.” In addition, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals respond to vaginal odor in the same manner as heterosexuals.

While there is no doubt that vaginal scent exists to varying degrees throughout the menstrual cycle, there is some controversy as to whether or not vaginal scent acts as a pheromone and has an effect on attraction like it does for primates.

From my own research (including crazy studies on hamster attraction), other aspects of human attraction, such as psychosocial and environmental factors, complicate things to the point where it is tremendously difficult to single out evidence of a human pheromone playing a large role in mate selection.

The question of whether or not humans experience a “hidden heat period” is further tainted by the effects of birth control, which slightly alters the chemical make-up of vaginal secretions and scent.

Nonetheless, common sense tells us that if you’ve gotten close enough to a vagina, you already find the woman attractive enough to be in bed with her. A woman’s special blend most likely plays only a minor role in attraction, if any at all.

Despite this notion, many young women seek ways to cover up their seemingly foul odor. A plethora of products supposedly mask the natural smell of a “vajayjay,” from scented pads to douching kits.

Many of these products are ineffective and only worsen the smell over time. Not only is it difficult to eliminate one’s unique scent around the genital region, it’s not healthy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise against douching because it can strip your vagina of good bacteria and lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Douching usually involves squirting a mixture of fluids into the vagina through a tube or nozzle, “douching can push the bacteria causing the infection up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries,” according to

Beyond general cleanliness, such as daily showering, there is not much else you can to do enhance your vaginal scent. No one wants to smell like sea-fare, but like “The Vagina Monologues” point out, vaginas will never smell like a garden or rain.

For the sake of women’s health, it’s probably best that we all accept this now.