Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Iron?

A coppery, metallic odor down there is normal. It’s usually due to period blood that contains iron or from light bleeding after sex.

The vagina is filled with different types of healthy bacteria that produce their own scents. But sometimes these bacteria can get out of balance and cause issues, like a strange smell.

Bleach Smell

Your yoni’s natural bacteria produce a unique scent that can vary from woman to woman. It’s normal for the odor to change throughout the day, as well as during your menstrual cycle and after eating certain foods.

Most healthy vaginas smell slightly tangy or yeasty—think sour yogurt, sourdough bread, or some IPAs. This odor comes from the bacteria, called lactobacilli that dominate healthy vaginas. It keeps the pH balanced, preventing an overgrowth of bad bacteria that can cause infections.

However, some women may also experience a coppery or metallic smell. That’s because blood, which contains iron, is traveling through the vaginal canal. Most commonly, this is due to menstruation, but it can also be caused by sex or light bleeding after sex.

If the odor is strong, it could be a sign that you forgot to remove a tampon before going to bed, or that you have an infection like thrush or bacterial vaginosis. In either case, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN so they can check things out and recommend treatments accordingly. And if you’re worried about your doctor being disgusted by you, remember that they TOUCHED CORPSEES during medical school, so they’ve seen it all before. They’re not going to judge you for being unclean down there!

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Urinary Incontinence

The smell of iron in the vagina can be a sign of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence can be caused by bladder spasms or from a weak pelvic floor muscle, and it can affect both women and men. Urinary incontinence can cause urine leakage, which is why it’s important to do Kegel exercises and wear comfortable, absorbent underwear. Urinary incontinence can also be caused by a health condition, like pelvic inflammatory disease or a nerve problem. Urinary incontinence can make it difficult to know when you need to urinate. It’s helpful to empty your bladder on a schedule, especially before physical activities or bedtime. Urinary incontinence can lead to rashes, skin infections and even urinary tract infections.

Another reason your vagina could smell like iron is if you forgot your tampon. Forgetting a tampon for a day or more can cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS). This can include symptoms such as a high fever, pain in the pelvis, and a bloody or frothy discharge.

A fishy smell can also be a symptom of bacterial vaginosis, a common infection that causes vaginal itching and a white, creamy discharge. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotics. Other symptoms of BV are a change in the color and consistency of your vaginal discharge, as well as a burning sensation when you pee.

Semen Smell

While some women might be tempted to brush off a metallic smell as gross, it is actually completely normal. The odors released by your vagina depend on your body chemistry and a mix of natural bacteria. Subtle shifts in the odor of your yoni are also normal during menstruation, pregnancy or sexual intercourse as the pH levels change.

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A metallic or copper-like odor is most common right before, during, and after your period. This smell is due to the high iron content in blood. You might also notice this odor if you have had penetrative vaginal sex (ie, sex with someone who ejaculates). This type of odor is also usually associated with bleeding during sex.

Semen has its own unique scent that can vary from person to person. Depending on the individual, it can range from a light musk to a slightly fermented milk smell. Semen also releases a fishy smell from the sperm cells inside it, which can be due to a number of things including STIs and poor hygiene practices.

Regardless of the smell, it’s always important to see your gynecologist for any changes in your vagina. Your doctor won’t be disgusted or think you have poor hygiene if you let them know about the unusual odor. After all, they TOUCHED corpses during medical school, so they’re well-equipped to handle any sort of odor-related issue that may arise.

Blood Smell

Getting a whiff of something other than your usual vaginal odor can be a little concerning, especially if you don’t know what it is. However, it’s usually nothing to worry about — just like with the sexy smells mentioned above, changes in your yoni odor are completely normal and can be caused by everything from hormones to a change in your bacteria flora.

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For example, a metallic smell that’s similar to the taste of a copper coin can often be traced back to menstruation — it’s because blood (which contains iron) is shed during your period. The smell typically goes away after your period is over.

A tangy or fermented smell that some women describe as “fishy” is also completely normal and typically due to the good bacteria (lactobacilli) that dominate most healthy vaginas. These bacteria release products that help maintain the proper pH level of your yoni, and can produce a smell that’s sometimes compared to yogurt or sour beer.

Other times, a putrid smell may be related to bacterial vaginosis (BV). This infection can cause pain when you pee and a lingering “fishy” odor. If you’re worried, call your gynecologist right away. Your doctor will be able to tell you if the smell is a result of BV or another problem, and will likely recommend antibiotics for treatment.

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