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Really Though—Why Does My Vagina Smell?

The female reproductive system is a pretty damn cool thing—it can make an entirely new human being, gift us with *crazy* amounts of pleasure, give itself monthly detoxes (which is more than we can say for our eating habits), and is even a self-cleaning machine—but if it's self-cleaning, why can your vagina smell?

Shape's sexpert, Dr. Logan Levkoff, explains why sex (AKA a mix of natural vaginal lubricant, semen, and products like lube or lubricated condoms) creates an interesting mix of substances and smells that are unique to you and your partner (or, lesbehonest, you and your sex toy). All these things can create interesting odors—but that doesn't mean they're bad. According to Dr. Levkoff, you should embrace the natural scent and let your vag do its thineg. She says douching is a big no-no, and pretty much all other MDs agree (it can mess with your natural bacteria and up your chances of infection). (P.S. here are six other things you should know about your vagina.)

While your vagina (the internal cavity of your genitalia) doesn't need any additional cleaning help, it's ok to gently clean your vulva (the stuff you can see: your labia, clitoris, and the openings to your vagina and urethra). Don't go reaching for special soap, though; water can be the best option and all you need to feel clean, according to Michele G. Curtis, M.D., a private-practice gynecologist. (While you're at it, try these foods to keep your V happy and healthy, no fancy products required.)

But there's one caveat: if your vaginal smells "off" (either fishy or pungent in a way that isn't typical for you) it could be time to see a gyno because you might have an infection. Otherwise, don't be ashamed of your natural scent. Chances are, your partner loooves it anyways.

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