person holding orange fruit during daytime

Why Does My Vagina Taste Sour?

There’s been no official vaginal flavor research, but anecdotal evidence suggests certain things can affect how your vulva tastes. Pineapple juice has been linked to a sweeter-tasting vagina, and eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and Greek yogurt can also help.

Your vulva’s natural acidity is what gives it that sour taste, and this is normal. It’s similar to the acid that makes yoghurt sour when it’s raw and unflavoured or unsweetened.

Your vagina is naturally acidic.

During a normal menstrual cycle, your pH level is around 3.8 to 4.5. That means that the bacteria in your vagina are acidic. This helps prevent harmful bacteria, like those that cause BV and yeast infections, from growing down there. But sometimes things change your vagina’s pH.

For example, you might eat foods that are high in lactic acid, such as yogurt or pickles. Or you might use a douche or other vaginal hygiene product that disrupts the natural balance of your microbiome. Douching products can also remove good bacteria, and this may contribute to a higher pH down there. Unprotected sex also changes the pH because semen is alkaline, and it can create a fertile environment where bacteria can thrive.

That’s why it’s important to use a condom and swab your labia to remove any dried blood after sex or urinating. It’s also a good idea to cleanse with a feminine wash that contains probiotics, like those found in plain or vanilla yogurt. It’s best to avoid harsh or chemical-based cleansers and douches that can strip away the good bacteria and lower your vagina’s pH. A natural, organic wash that doesn’t contain parabens and other chemicals is your best bet.

Related Content:  What Does it Mean When Your Vagina Smells Like Onions?

You have healthy bacteria.

Your vagina is home to a rainforest of microscopic bacteria, and it’s normal for those bacteria to produce a sour taste. “The vagina is like a kitchen — it’s naturally acidic,” says Dr. Ross. “That’s how it keeps harmful bacteria away.”

The bacteria that live in your vulva are called Lactobacillus, and they produce the lactic acid that gives vaginal fluids their sourness. It’s the same kind of bacteria that helps make yoghurt sour, and it works to protect your vulva from infections like thrush and bacterial vaginosis.

Douching can disrupt your vulva’s healthy ecosystem, and it may also cause an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria, which can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Douching can also increase the amount of vaginal discharge you have, which can be described as smelling like onion or fish (see our earlier story about the “my pee smells like asparagus” joke).

If you suddenly notice that your vulva has a strong sour flavor, it’s probably because something in your body is off balance. Eating too many acidic foods, drinking too much alcohol or smoking can alter your vulva’s pH, making it more funky than usual. Changing your diet and cutting out vices that can skew the pH of your vulva is a good idea. You can also try adding probiotics or a fungus-fighting herbal tea to your regimen.

Related Content:  Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Iron?

You have a yeast infection.

A yeast infection is a condition in which the fungus Candida albicans grows out of control. These infections can happen in any warm and moist area of the body, including in the vagina. Women are more likely to get them than men, but anyone can get them. Yeast infections aren’t an STD, but they can be itchy and painful. They’re also very common in young women — about 75% of them will have one at some point in their life. Yeast infections can be caused by hormones, such as those that are released during pregnancy and the menstrual cycle. They can also be caused by antibiotics, certain diseases, such as diabetes and cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Some foods can also cause yeast infections, including asparagus, garlic, and strong spices.

Your vulva can have different scents and tastes at different times of the day, depending on your diet, the season, hormone changes, and your personal vaginal flora. While some of these can be sour or funky, most are neutral or pleasant. When the sour or funky taste or odor is new or worse, it’s usually a sign of an infection that disrupts your body’s natural pH balance. This can be a bacterial, yeast or STI infection. You should talk to your doctor about this.

Related Content:  Why Do I Have a Pimple on My Vulva?

You have a bacterial infection.

If you’re experiencing a fishy smell with lots of thin vaginal discharge that’s white, dull gray, greenish, or foamy, this could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV). It also means your pH is off. It’s important to drink water and eat foods that help you stay hydrated.

Healthy bacteria in your vulva, called your vaginal microbiome or vaginal flora, create lactic acid that gives your vulva fluids a slight sour taste. You can test this by spreading your labia apart and tasting them with a clean washcloth. It’s a bit like the way yogurt tastes when it’s raw, unsweetened and unsalted.

A sour or metallic taste in the vagina can be a sign that you have excess blood, especially during menstruation. This is because blood has a high iron content. It can also occur after sexual intercourse, and is a sign that you may have STIs like chlamydia or trichomoniasis.

A coppery or penny-like taste can be normal, too. It’s caused by a high amount of semen in the vagina and is often accompanied by itching, burning when you pee and thick white or grey discharge. If this happens, book an appointment and tell your doctor. They can give you treatments to help.