Why Does It Smell After Intercourse? (What Different Smells Mean & Tips For Hygiene After Intercourse)

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It’s natural to smell different after having intercourse as bodily fluids come in contact, and the pH level is changed for some time, but you should never smell bad. If you smell bad, it’s because either you were carrying an infection from before, which became more triggered after intercourse, or got it from another person involved in the activity. Different vaginal odor indicates various kinds of infection, and it’s best to not indulge in any intimate activity before you get it treated. It’s best to follow a proper hygiene routine daily, preventing any overgrowth of bacteria creating infection and keeping you smelling the natural way you do. 

Having sex is like an aerobic activity that involves latex, condoms, lubricants, discharge, and semen.

Having done all of this, you sense that it smells different as you lay down. It makes complete sense and is only natural for it to smell different after intercourse. But it should never smell bad.

Depending on the partner, it might smell different because having sex with a new person can certainly change how you smell down there.

But honestly, what’s a typical smell? How to differentiate it from a bad one? Does a bad smell mean you have an infection?

While hormonal change, medication, and diet can bring about a difference in the vagina’s smell, if having sex makes you smell bad, then you might need to look further.

Let’s see what each smell means and what steps you need to take to make that go away!

Why does it smell different after intercourse?

Getting intimate with someone in any capacity can change the way you smell afterward.

But it’s not a bad smell, and it’s just different because multiple factors change the way you smell naturally.

For someone with a vagina, you have a natural pH balance, which keeps your vagina and its surroundings healthy and smelling natural as you do.

Anything disturbing this pH balance changes how you smell, whether different or bad, depending on other factors.

  • If you have P in V sex, then the alkaline nature of semen is opposite to the vagina’s acidic environment. When vaginal fluid comes in contact with semen, the smell changes but in a different way. In V to V sex, you might notice a similar shift in the smell.
  • If you choose to indulge in oral activities, it changes the smell too, as the saliva contains digestive enzymes and bacteria, altering the pH balance. 
  • The same goes for using any toys, latex, or lube.
  • Sweat is involved since it’s practically like cardio, which can change how you smell after.

But different is all you’re supposed to smell, which should go back to normal after a shower or a few hours. If the smell is terrible in any way, then a closer look is what you require!

What different smells mean after intercourse

A young woman is sitting down on the sofa after intercourse thinking about why she might be smelling different after sex

Everyone’s vagina smells different, and there’s no reason to compare this sort of thing in the first place, but a change in smell after intercourse is something you need to worry about if it smells awful. 

A tangy or sour smell

If your vagina smells a bit sour, then it’s normal, and that’s how you’re supposed to smell down there.

Many people have this misconception that it’s supposed to smell flowery down there, but that’s just false advertising from all the brands trying to make you buy their products. 

A healthy vagina is slightly acidic and contains lactobacillus. Its job is to protect your vagina from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria keeping it neat, clean, and smelling however you smell. 

Copper smell

Knowing what a healthy vagina should be smelling like, it’s easier to know what a vagina shouldn’t be smelling like!

If it smells like copper down there, similar to the smell coming from coins, it’s because of blood you might be smelling this way. If you had sex during your menstrual cycle, that’s completely normal.

Another situation where it’s normal for it to smell this way is when you had a rough session as it might be caused by a bit of wear and tear in your tissue, causing a small amount of bleeding.

A matter to worry about would be when along with this smell, you start bleeding after having intercourse then immediately visit your doctor.

Skunk smelling

Caused when you’ve had an extremely long session enough to make all those involved sweat a lot.

Sweat in itself smells terrible for some people, and combined with body fluids, it can change things a lot, even making it smell terrible. 

It’s even worse when a particular emotion or stress causes sweating because we have two sweat glands: eccrine, which is when the body is trying to cool down gland, and apocrine, which responds to emotion and are located in your pits and groin. 

This kind of smell will be only for a short while until you clean up nicely by taking a shower. 

Fishy odor

If you smell a fishy odor down there, it could be a sign of an infection.

One gets this kind of fishy smell when suffering from bacterial vaginosis (BV), resulting in a grayish vaginal discharge that causes it to itch and burn when you pee.

Reasons why you would have BV:

It’s the most common infection women witness, and almost once, each woman goes through this particular infection.

Treating it by taking medications and completing the course as suggested by a doctor will help ward it away. 

Many lifestyle changes also need to happen to ensure you don’t worsen your condition and get rid of BV once and for all.

If you don’t take proper measures, your BV can keep coming back. 

Trichomoniasis is another sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can leave your vagina with a fishy odor.

Other symptoms include:

  • Frothy vaginal discharge that can be yellow, green, white, or grayish
  • Burning
  • Pain during sex or urination

It’s easily treatable if you follow a prescription of medications.

Sweet or beer-like smell

This particular smell results from an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, producing a sweet smell, and it’s very similar to honey or cookies.

A sour smell could also indicate a yeast infection, along with a sweet smell.

Intense burning, itching, or feeling dry is usually what one experiences with this vaginal infection that worsens if not treated quickly.

One might also notice a cottage cheese kind of discharge.

Chances are you could have had this infection before, which is now becoming prominent, and so you could smell it more now after intercourse.

Indulging in sex can worsen a condition and make symptoms prominent.

Taking antibiotics, not engaging in sex with people, and keeping your vagina clean with water and dry can help get rid of the infection. 

Chemical/ammonia smell

When you smell as if there’s a bleachy smell down there, it could be because our bodies produce ammonia, which is broken down by the liver and excreted in the urine.

Sweat can also cause a similar smell.

If you’re dehydrated, which is common during sex as people don’t drink enough water throughout the whole thing to replenish the fluids secreted, it could also make the smell stronger.

You might feel tired, dizzy, thirsty, and pee more often.

Rotten smell

If you smell something rotten, your mind could immediately go to the fact that semen is responsible for this smell, but it’s not.

This smell could be an outcome of a forgotten tampon, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Life is hectic, and sometimes it’s understandable for such a thing to happen. You might remember it first and only when the smell becomes unbearable, which is understandable.

You’ll also witness itching, pain, fever. It’s best to visit your gynecologist and get it removed from them, and don’t worry or be embarrassed because you’re not the only one in there for this purpose today.

If the smell is too much to bear, along with a foul-smelling discharge, it could result from a pelvic inflammatory disease or, less commonly, cervical or vaginal cancers. 

Immediately see your doctor if experiencing: 

  • Heavy or unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower abdominal or back pain
  • Fever
  • Bleeding after penetrative sex or between periods

Hygiene care tips after intercourse

A woman is showering after sex for good hygiene

Good hygiene, in general, is essential for any person to maintain.

Especially after sex, although there’s no immediate need to clean up, most people decide to wait up for hours or even the whole night to clean up. 

It also depends on the kind of sexual activity one was involved in, but if someone has had intercourse, then I think there are some basic hygiene rules one must follow which can help you in the long term. 

  • Although your vagina is self-cleaning, it’s essential to go to the washroom and wash it with warm water to make sure all the bodily fluids secreted have been cleaned off. You don’t need any fancy cleaning, and just plain water is what you need.
  • Urinating after having sex is something many people abide by. It helps lower the chances of vaginal infections such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
  • Drinking lots of water during sex is something you should abide by because the whole process can be quite draining and dehydrating. 
  • Not just the vagina, but your anus needs to be thoroughly washed too. Bacteria from one can mingle with others causing infections. Use the correct technique to wipe, that’s front to back.
  • For people with a penis with a foreskin, gently pull it back and clean underneath with water to remove semen buildup and smegma. Rinse it well, and then pat dry.

When you follow these tips, there’s a lesser chance of getting infections that might make you smell bad after intercourse.

Practicing good hygiene practices and wearing breathable cotton underwear can help immensely. 

Other tips to get rid of the smell

A few other tips to keep in mind that you can use as a part of your daily hygiene to keep smelling great even after having intercourse are:

  • During periods, hormonal changes can cause an odor similar to iron or ammonia. When having sex during this time, it’s best to use internal products to reduce the vaginal odor and change them frequently. Using pads doesn’t help so much with the odor.
  • Consume products with probiotics in them as it helps produce healthy bacteria for your vagina. It also prevents vaginal infections keeping the pH balance normal and thus keeping any odor away.
  • It’s best to keep the area as airy as possible because tight-fitted clothes can cause sweat, dead skin, discharge, and semen from previous intercourse to be trapped and create a bad smell. Breathable cotton is the best choice to avoid vaginal odor.
  • Consuming sugary food promotes the growth of yeast infection, which can make your vagina smell bad, so cut down on sugar. 
  • Drink plenty of water every day to keep hydrated and prevent the growth of bacteria. It will also keep your sweat smelling normal as it should.

FAQs

Can a man’s sperm make a woman smell fishy?

Semen is alkaline as opposed to the acidic nature of the vagina.

So, the interaction of these can change the pH environment of a vagina and make it smell different than usual, but in any way, it won’t leave it smelling bad.

If you smell fishy, then you probably are suffering from bacterial vaginosis (BV), which gets triggered or becomes worse if a person who already has it indulges in sexual activities.

A man’s semen doesn’t smell fishy, nor does it leave a vagina smelling fishy. You probably had symptoms of BV before you indulged in intercourse. 

It’s better to recover from BV before being intimate again. So medications, a healthy and balanced diet, plus a few considerations such as wearing breathable underwear and drinking plenty of water can help immensely. 

How do I get rid of the odor down there?

The only way to smell good down there is to follow a proper hygiene routine daily. Although many brands will advertise many hygiene products to you with a promise to make you smell good, you don’t need any of that. 

Simple plain water is all you need and other good hygiene practices to keep smelling good because the vagina is self-cleaning.

Some other hygiene tips include drinking plenty of water, wearing loose, airy clothes, including cotton underwear, changing underwear daily, and cleaning carefully every day the whole area between your thighs. 

Why do I smell down there even after I shower?

Your vagina could smell different due to periods, pregnancy, medication, or a change in diet.

But if you smell even though you’re not going through any of the above conditions, you need to rethink your hygiene routine and if you’re properly taking care of your vagina.

Nothing fancy is needed as a part of the hygiene routine, only washing with plain water and keeping the area clean breathable, and your body should be hydrated well. If you still smell down there, notice your after-care after sex. 

If there are some unusual symptoms like a change in your discharge, itching, burning, or pain in your vagina.

Then you might have an infection creating this awful smell. For this, you need to see a gynecologist and seek proper treatment. 

Can others smell my discharge?

Everyone has their unique smell regarding vagina and how they smell.

There’s no comparison between smells, and it makes no sense to do so. It’s normal for every woman or girl to smell unique down there but not in a bad way. 

It’s only natural for young girls to become aware of this smell when they hit puberty and if anyone else will smell it too, but that’s not the case.

Even though you’re aware of your own smell, others won’t notice it unless you become intimate with them. Even then, it’s natural, and no fancy products should be used to change this smell and make it more ‘flowery.’ 

Should sperm have a smell?

The seminal fluid is typically alkaline in nature, and anything between 7.2 and 8.0 is considered a healthy pH level.

When the body’s pH levels are balanced, semen should smell like ammonia, bleach, or other alkaline substances.

There are variations in smells but nothing that should be foul-smelling. There will be changes in scent after having sex for a while. 

To summarize

It’s natural to smell different after having intercourse because the pH level of the vagina is changed when coming in contact with another person’s bodily fluids.

But if there’s a foul odor, then there might be a chance you were already carrying an infection before or caught an infection from the sexual partner involved.

The type of smell will indicate different infections or issues you must be suffering from, along with specific symptoms.

It’s best to identify these signs and symptoms and start proper treatment before indulging in intimate activity.

It’s also best to start a proper hygiene routine like drinking plenty of water, wearing breathable underwear, cleaning the area regularly with water, and maintaining hygiene to stop any bacterial infection. 

Some people also follow specific steps after having intercourse which is quick and effective while reducing further chances of getting any infections and foul smell!

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Saumya Malik is an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. She's passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.
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