Here's Why Your Vagina Smells So ... Different ... After Sex

Photo: Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash
Why Your Vagina Smells Different After Sex
Health And Wellness, Sex

When I was in high school a song by the band Marcy Playground was intensely popular. It was called "Sex and Candy," and it horrified my mother, so of course I listened to it as many times as I could.

As a woefully virginal teenager I wasn't familiar with the specifics of the refrain. All I knew was that when the lead singer crooned "I smell sex and candy, yeah," my mom would angrily flip the station on the radio muttering mild obscenities under her breath.

"What does sex smell like?" I asked her.

More muttered mild obscenities were all I got in the way of an answer, and you know, what fair enough! Who wants to explain that their geeky unsexual teen that your vagina, heck, your entire body smells in a very distinct way just after sex? Absolutely no one, that's who.

RELATED: This Is What Your Vagina Is Supposed To Smell Like

There are two reasons that "Sex and Candy" was such a major hit. The first, it's an earworm! Just try listening to it once and not getting stuck in your head. I have blurted that song out at more than one entirely inappropriate venue — the best was when I was pushing my then-infant godson around in his stroller!

The second reason the song hit such a nerve was because that "after sex" smell is one every sexually active person knows about.

It's the reason cheaters jump right in the shower when they return to their wives. It's why women take "whore's baths" after one-night stands. After you have sex, you smell like sex.

But what exactly is that after-sex smell, and why does your vagina smell so darn different after getting your proverbial swerve on?

There's a reason this after-sex smell happens only after partnered sex and not after solo play.

The sex smell is caused by the combination of semen, vaginal lubrication, vaginal secretions, and good ol' fashioned human sweat.

Not exactly a fragrance I'd be rushing to Sephora to buy, but there ya go!

See, your vagina has a low pH. In other words, your vagina is acidic in nature — not face-burning-off acidic, but acidic enough.

Semen, on the other hand, is alkaline, which means it has a high pH.

That's right, that stuff that comes out of your vagina and the stuff that comes out of his penis are biologically created to make some serious chemistry!

When your low pH meets his high pH, it doesn't just shake hands and keep on being vaginal secretions and semen. Nope. In fact, it actually turns into something totally new!

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The two combine to create a whole brand spankin' new type of body protein. Hence, a brand new very specific "after sex" smell.

Blammo! The birds and the bees just got a heck of a lot more gnarly, didn't they?

Even if you two use a condom during sex, you're still going to create an after-sex smell. This version is caused by your vagina reacting to its own inflammation and trying to heal itself — plus his sweat, plus your sweat, plus whatever kind of lube was on the condom.

It's bound to get stinky up in that joint no matter which way you slice it.

RELATED: Why It Sometimes Hurts To Pee After You Have Sex

When you first start having sex the smell can be off-putting.

I was the nerd who changed my sheets every time I got laid — and this was with the same dude. Now I'm more of a slut and I support protecting the environment, so the sheets stick around a little longer.

But even if you're just getting used to the smell, it should never smell bad.

If you smell something off, you should definitely talk to your partner, your doctor, and your Aunt Janet. (Aunt Janet probably won't be able to help you and might be a little weirded out about hearing about your vag problems, but she's been lonely since the divorce, so do her a solid, m'kay?)

That "after sex" smell comes with the territory and can vary from partner to partner.

Don't worry, it isn't going to stick around forever.

The smell will vanish once you've peed a few times and showered, preferably both at the same time since I have mentioned I am in full support of protecting mother Gaia.

Now if you'll excuse me, sex school's out for the day and I've got some Marcy Playground to listen to.

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Do After Sex — No Excuses

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr..