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Dear Dr. Kate: Why Does My Vagina Taste Bitter Sometimes?

Thu, Jun 28, 2012

Advice, What's Up Doc?

photo by robbie_jim

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City who answers your medical questions here once a week. To ask her your own question, click here.

Hello Dr. Kate,

My question is about the taste of my vagina. Both from what my boyfriend has said/his reactions and my own taste-tests, I know that sometimes I taste of nothing and sometimes almost bitter (even after showering). Is this change due to hormones, or is it like with men where the foods you eat affect your taste? Thank you so much!

– (Would Rather Be) Tasteless

Dear Tasteless,

Every woman has a unique taste that changes based on many things. At different times in your cycle, your taste can change from sweet to salty to sour. When you’re aroused, or if you’re sweating (or both), the flavor can also be different. And certainly having an infection (yeast or vaginosis) can cause your taste to change.

It’s unclear if diet can really change the taste of vaginal secretions — unsurprisingly, it’s hard to get funding to do such research. But anecdotally, different foods in your diet can change how you taste. The foods I hear about most: raw garlic, citrus fruits (particularly pineapple), strawberries, coffee, and asparagus. Even alcohol, nicotine and vitamins have the potential to change your taste. Violet Blue goes into further details that she learned while researching her book on cunnilingus.

I’d love to hear about this from you all… Have any of you (or your partners) noticed a change in your vaginal taste? What do you think it’s due to?

– Dr. Kate

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.

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121 Responses to “Dear Dr. Kate: Why Does My Vagina Taste Bitter Sometimes?”

  1. happywife Says:

    Thank you M L ! I’ll let you know what kind of results I get :)

    Best Wishes.


  2. The Shit Says:

    In my experience they all taste about the same or have no flavor at all.

  3. SCOTTYBOY1269 Says:


  4. Chris Says:

    I’m curious and a little frustrated… I love performing cunnilingus but am now (incredibly happily) married to woman who’s vagina is so bitter, even after showering that the idea is just a complete turn off. I’m hoping there may be a solution that could subtly brought about as I don’t wish to make her too self-conscious…. Thanks to anyone who can help.

  5. SS Says:

    Given that the taste of men’s “stuff” can be altered by diet (vegetarians taste better, but not as good as a soy latte, apparently…) I did some quick internet trolling, and came up with this from Salon, regarding bitter tasting va-jay-jays:
    “A popular tidbit of advice was the elimination diet. As Deb Levine, sex advice columnist on Thrive.com and author of “The Joy of Cybersex,” says, “You should experiment with your diet and with your lover by using an elimination diet or a rotation diet. Eliminate dairy products, cruciferous vegetables — cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus — which are also gas producing vegetables, and garlic and onions. The biggest rumor is that eating parsley before oral sex makes the pussy sweeter.”

    The experts agree, for the best tasting pussy, vegetarians come out ahead. John from SFSI told me that “a vegetarian diet with no saturated fats is the winner. Meats, alcohol, tobacco and drug use all make a pussy taste bitter or acidic. Pineapple and fruits make it sweeter and give it a fresher, zesty flavor. Chocolate and fats make it less fresh.” So while chocolate may help your PMS, it’s not helping the taste of your juices. But at least it’s a good substitute for love.”

    You can read the whole article here:

    Given that these are pretty siginificant dietary changes to suggest (and you know how sensitive we chicks are about our bodies!) if I may be so bold, I’d say you might want to preface any discussion with, “I’ve heard we will BOTH taste better if we try these things…” then it’s less like a criticism of her, and more like something you can do for each other, IMHO :)

  6. jazzmina22 Says:

    In Response to Scottyboy1269:

    I have noticed that ovulation changes the way women (including myself) taste and feel. the pH level of the vag in question is really the most drastic factor. I don’t really cater my diet too much. I’m a mother of two. My family likes to eat a healthy variety and it seems silly to choose the veggies I feed my family based on my sex life! Instead i eat lots of extra yogurt and fruits on my own. This works well, trust me. My husband is not shy about telling me what works or not!
    If your girlfriend’s vag is drying up your saliva, she may have too much yeast inside of her. The vag is a delicate place and liitle things like too much heat, non-cotton panties, or not enough yogurt in the diet can throw off the yeast balance.
    I hope this helps!

  7. Nic Says:

    Scottboy, it sounds to me like your girlfriend had used deoderant down there recently. A lot of women do this but some use a spray rather than a stick so instead of just getting the very inside of the legs, they end up spraying all over…deoderant/anti perspirant will dry up your saliva very quickly, it’s meant to absorb wetness.

  8. Chris Says:

    The first time I went down a girl, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! The taste was divine- sort of tangy and musty, but only slightly salty. Vaginal honey, I called it! If it was possible to bottle her juices, I would have done!

  9. dafkalda Says:

    i noticed a few months ago when my partner asked me to taste myself it tasted really sour/bitter but most of the time it tastes sweet i was thinking about what i had been eating because i heard it changes the taste alot and it wasnt what i was eating but what i was drinking. beer. we were drinking just about every other day for a few weeks and so i stopped drinking for a few nights. tasted it and it was back to normal if not sweeter.

  10. Mariah Says:

    So I’ve read about ”Why Does My Vagina Taste Bitter Sometimes”. Now I do smoke & Drink … if I stop drinking & smoking how long will it take for that ”bitter taste” to go away? Or if there is anything I can do for that ”Bitter” taste to go away…

  11. kayrosey Says:

    i’ve always been self-conscious about my lady parts, but i refrain from doing anything that seems like it carries more risks than benefits. (i.e. douching, vaginal deodorants, etc- & who wants a vajayjay that smells like a “spring meadow” anyway? somehow i doubt most men would find the taste of “tropical breeze” a turn-on.)
    i try to focus on keeping things healthy & balanced without interfering too much, but here’s what i’ve found: antihistamines & caffeine can make me taste unpleasantly tangy & bitter. now i’m really wondering if vitamin C can do the same! omega 3 supplements can cause a mildly fishy odor; get the enteric coated ones.
    using a spermicide is horribly harsh on my lady parts; i get a nasty infection every time i use one! (forget about fish, that kind of stank is worse than low-tide!) even commercial lubrication can effect the way i taste for days afterwards. i think both of these have to do with pH balance & that kind of thing.
    speaking of pH balance- SEMEN can also really effect the way i smell/taste/etc. again, i think this has to do with pH.
    one thing i have tried that seems to help is yogurt- eating it, taking acidophillus supplements- and also putting it inside. a few spoonfuls of PLAIN, no flavors, no sugar added, no nasty chemicals yogurt in the vagina can be really soothing for unbalanced lady parts. {this isn’t medically endorsed, and it’s not a cure for anything. if you think you have an infection, go to the doctor!!! }

    things i am going to try in the future include supplements recommended for treating body odor (if it can help body odor, it can help other kinds of odors/tastes, right?) which include B vitamins (i just started taking a B vitamin complex,) as well as zinc. also, chlorophyl supplements & parsley supplements are supposed to help treat body odor as well. i haven’t tested any of these things, although i will be in the future.

    i’ve also heard great things about pineapple, but i’m not too fond of the stuff, so i haven’t tested it.

    if all else fails, maybe i’ll try this new “vajazzling” trend. my bf will be too distracted by glittering rhinestones to notice any funky smells/tastes! (::rolls eyes:: just kidding!)

  12. Breathsaver Says:

    Since I’ve started receiving oral sex 10 years ago, I loved to kiss the guys afterward and was always pleased with the fresh mouth taste and breath. HOWEVER, beginning 4 years ago something down there went crazy. I have no std’s. Never have. No infections. If I taste myself, I taste fine. But when my boyfriend goes down on me, he has this insane indescribable breath thats not necessarily bad just so strange that is overpowering. And I get the same breath when I kiss him after oral sex. And he absolutely never ever has bad breath. It has been like this for 4 years straight. It wasn’t like this the first 6 months of the relationship. I feel like I introduced an unpleasant bacteria that is here to stay. Anyone else notice some crazy powerful breath on the person that just went down on you? yikes!

  13. naanaa Says:

    My boyfriend said i tasted sour. thats bad right. what should i do?

  14. Daniel Kersten Says:

    Come on, the real distinct taste comes from Nicotene or Alcohol.
    From there you fight lack of sex or lack of hygene.
    No one wants to here is but there it is.
    A clean, non smoking virgin who washes daily is sweet to the pallet. This I know from personal exsperiance and a number of trials.
    Anyone trying to argue is not washing or has an area of pubic hair the size of central park and sweats like George Forman on Weigh in day.

  15. Teen 16 Says:

    Yeahh my gf normally tastes sweet but recently shes been out drinking (two consecutive weekends + we had a party mid week haha) and it tastes sour now, i was worried but i guess its just 1 of those things

  16. Surviver Says:

    I am 32 y/o woman.I have been always in long term relatinships.(clean)But I smoked since 17 and it is been almost 15 years.Eew!I hate myself on this part.But I finally stopt.When I was younger like before 28,I was OK.I was healthy and my system was stronger and recover faster.I didnt have problem.But I turned 30 and it all started.I had vaginal dryness,white discharge,very sour taste.I tryed everything from CVS counter med to Doctor prescribed drug.Didnt work,and came back in few days.I almost gave up on sex:):)It affected my life 3 years.Aaah!!!!
    Than I noticed when I DONT coffee tea soda all thoese caffiene filled drink,and smoke less or dont smoke my VJ feels great.But when I drink starbucks coffee and smoke it was back.This is my real life expierence.I didn’t know I suffered last 3 years.Almost no sex,I stopt him to go down there!!! But now I know,I CANT HAVE CAFFIENE AND NICOTINE.my body is sensetive to it!!!IT is not only me.It is our body GIRLS!!!IF you have sour taste and white discharge and V dryness Stop smoking and drinking caffiene.These put stress on our adrenial glands and triggers everthing….poor immune system and yeast or ….it will go on….Just plz stop smoking and drinking caffeine.See the difference! Good luck

  17. me Says:

    Um, have you ever thought about the fact that bitterness after showering might be due to soap residue?

    Hurr durr.

  18. Rarechiltney Says:

    Simple and easy way to start smelling sweeter or having a less noticeable scent is to start Taking Acidophilus. I take that and i put yogurt in my smoothies. I also take cranberry capsules and drink lots of 100% cranberry juice no sugar added. I wash with a mild soap down there and I don’t drink alcohol or smoke and cut back on garlic and onions on days you want to have sex or any sexual activity. Also drink lots of water. that acidophilus and cranberry will help you maintain a healthy vagina ph levels and help prevent UTI’s. Also chlorophyll or Chlorella is great for reducing any body odor all over, its naturally high in B vitamins so you dont have to take the B supplements.

  19. bjizzle Says:

    To Rarechiltney: how long before I see results with the acidopholis, water increase and dietary changes?

  20. Nina Says:

    I do belive that a healthy diet can produce a more pleasant taste, smell in the vagina. A couple of years back I exercised regularly, ate plain fat free yogurt just about everyday, fruit ( a lot of cantaloupe & pineapple), cut out sodas and bad sugar products, drink a lot of water. I lived that lifestyle for about 6 months or so, the guy I was dating would perform oral sex and would be amazed at how “sweet” I was and would bring it up a lot….Now my diet hasn’t been as great, and I can tell the difference. I will go back to the way I use to it and see if that was what caused the sweeter taste. =)

  21. IrishinSavannah Says:

    I have been trying to find info on this issue for weeks, I am so glad to have stumbled across this post and all these great comments. Tomorrow will be day one of putting some of these suggestions into play in my life!

  22. squrrilyadams Says:

    yeah, i tasted my girlfriend 12/22/10
    she tasted really sour, im not an expert on this kinda stuf, cause she was the second girl ive tasted in my entire life, is it normal for her to tast sour, it tastes like a sour apple…but i dont know, some one please help me here

  23. Linda Says:

    Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily with freshly squeezed lemon. Lemons flush out toxins in your bladder and also reduce cellulite. Science has proven it. However, this should be done in conjunction with a diet less in red meats, higher in veggies and fruits.

  24. ms2fly Says:

    Well I’ve beeen batling yeast infections,pid,uti,bad odor,and greendischarge4rm my vajajay!and it never goes away!

  25. ms2fly Says:

    That’s all past history though.but nowthe discharge is back n the so very awful smell!I’m so depressed about this!my fiance has been fighting yeast infections also but he’s diabetic

  26. Jen Says:

    To any of the women with yeast problems: The only thing that made my chronic yeast infections stop (completely!!) was a low-carb diet. Just a thought. That might sound like an extreme solution, but after living with them for so long and doing everything right (I wore the right kind of underwear, had a healthy diet including lots of yogurt, cut out alcohol, took supplements such as garlic pills & acidophilus, etc.) it really wasn’t.

  27. angela green Says:

    To anyone with smelly vagina your diet does have alot to do with the way you smell down there. I am a previous sufferer with yeast infections due to my diet eating alot of sweets and sodas. I have cut down on sodas and sweets and now drink lots of cranberry juice and take the acidophilus have notice less yeast problems and also use a mild unscented soap. Im married also and will tell you semen will affect the way you smell down there when my husband and I are intimate We either use protection or he will withdraw I have noticed a huge difference.

  28. Gracious Says:

    Thankyou soo much for all the posts. They have really helped.
    Just recently my boyfriend says I taste different. He used to say I tasted amazing. He used to go down on me all the time.
    I’m not sure what I’m doing different, I have been working out more. But I take showers everyday.
    Today, I decided to tast test myself and I tasted bitter when before I used to taste really sweet, and I used to be really wet. The when I started making love to my boyfriend my vag started changing smells and tastes. It was sweet up until quite lately, and now it tastes funny. I’ve never tasted so bitter and tangy.
    It’s gross. And it makes me very self concious. I’m already shy of my body. But it just worries me. So Ive been trying to go to the doctor.
    I’m taking all your different advice and I’m going to try them.
    I have been eating chocolate more recently, and I had broccoli today.
    I want to amaze my boyfriend not just by giving him oral and pleasing him during intercoarse, but my just the smell and taste of my vag. I want to be more appetizing to him ;P

    Does anyone know of anything else that may help?

  29. Esther Says:

    ok… sooooo I used to have yeast infection. but I finally defeated it with garlic supplements, lots of yogurt and acidopilus supplements.. However, I just tasted myself, and I tasted really sour. It’s been cold lately so I’ve been drinking alot of hot chocolate and less water.. that may be the reason. Im going to start eating pinneapple though and making sure i drink water.. Maybe ill even start working out.. I tell myself that every day though! lol! I hope my va jay jay tastes better in a week. I’ll have to see. If not.. Im gonna see about cutting meats.

  30. Elvira Says:

    My husband actually has comented about my taste. I just recently married and he told me that now that we are married I taste more bitter and sour. Idk if it’s because we have more intercourse now than before. Or it’s because he comes in me now. I do have on question. If my husband does ijaculate inside me. How long does it take for all of his “stuff” to leave my private part?

  31. Erica Says:

    My boyfriend says I taste amazing but when I tasted myself I can’t agree with him. it’s kind of bitter sweet and reminds me of the taste of a vitamine. XP yuck. You think he’s just tryin to boost my ego? lmao.
    Anyways, I quit smoking about three months ago, and I never drink. I drink pineapple juice but it’s mixed with mango, and I drink cranberry juice and water, and add applecider vinegar to my water in the morning. I also take B vitamine complex daily. I try and eat plain yogurt but I skip a few days since it’s so awful. I can’t say that I eat bad, but I don’t really eat healthy either… I eat a lot of salt and butter but I hardly ever have fast food. I’m wondering if it could be the vitamine I’m taking that makes me taste so awful? Or maybe I’m just not into the taste..
    I was wondering if it changes when you’re turned on too? I get really wet… like, extremely. I used to be really self conscience about it but my boyfriend goes crazy over it.. and I’m assuming it cleans out the bitterness?

  32. Sacha Says:

    Wow what an interesting topic! I think at the end of all the supplements, washes, routines, etc. the bottom line is whatever you put IN your body is what eventually will come out. Anything left over in the body that is not used will eventually turn toxic and give off smells/scents that can be unpleasant. My guys always says I have what he calls “sweet gold”, and yet I do drink wine at least once a week, I drink black and green teas (both containing caffeine) and I love things like garlic and onion. However I drink tons of water each day and I am big on multivitamins, which I think helps create the balance.

    For all you ladies with a case of the ‘sour puss’, I would suggest a tea tree oil cleanse. Just buy a bottle of pure tea tree oil, and a bottle of olive oil or jojoba oil. Pour a little of the olive or jojoba oil on a tampon, then pour 3-4 drops of the tea tree oil over it. It will be strong. Insert the tampon as usual and wear for about 3-4 hours then remove. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and is known for its healing, cleansing properties. This will help clear up any strange smells and just helps normalize the ph levels in that area.

    And another thing ladies, lets not be so self conscious about how our puss is smelling. Just keep it clean!

  33. kurt Says:

    my girlfriends vagina never smells bad untill she starts producing her juices what can she do to change that i cant really describe the smell but it is enough to make a man gag any ideals would be helpful thanks

  34. pam from why does my vagina smell Says:

    Interesting post!! I always thought that the change in vagina smell was due to an infection such as bacterial vaginosis. Never thought about the foods I ate. I will have to pay more attention on what I eat and if there is any kind of change.

  35. taz Says:

    ive just noticed that my vagina has just started to taste a little sour. During intercourse my fiance does cum in me, when giving oral i do swallow sometimes, i also dont pay attention to what i eat, so could it be all the cum that goes through me+ my diet? what should/how i start to change things downunder

  36. Anon John Says:

    I just fapped!

  37. ruby Says:

    Okay so my boyfriend likes going down on me and loves my tatse, but there has been two times now that he said I tatse funny. He doesn’t know how funny but funny. He knows I would NEVER cheat on him. Were madly inlove, but he is also a negative thinker and wonders if it could be another guy or a condom. I insure him there is NO possible way that could be true. So, why do I tatse different?

    Thanks for the help! (:

  38. Anon Says:

    What you eat definitely DOES affect the taste. One time, about 4-5 hours after having a pizza, my bf went down on me. When he came up to kiss me, his mouth tastes EXACTLY like the really big spicy seeds in pepperoni. (He didn’t eat any of the pizza.)

  39. Smurfie Says:

    I usually go down on my girl when we are really into it or sometimes I do it just for fun, but a lot of times she tastes bitter. I don’t say anything about it but nowadays I am almost scared to go down… Could it have something to do with the cokes she consumes? Or the food? Which foods would be the best for her to taste sweeter? She was my first experience in oral sex and let’s just say it was not the best. Sometimes when were really into it she gets really and I do mean REALLY wet it smells so strong I try not to breathe. It is worst when we have blankets over us cause then all the smell goes up to our faces. The worst thing is I don’t know if she notices her strong smells sometimes. I try not to do faces but I feel like I do which is another reason why I am happy the light is closed. Could someone help please? I really wish my girl could taste sweet sometimes.

  40. Rocco Says:

    My girl friend frequently has a sweet lime taste which I love. I’ve never observed this variation before with any other woman and I’m curious if others have the same experience. Her diet is your basic meat and potatoes so that is not the factor. Her heritage is Great Britain.

  41. margarita Says:

    Im having the same issue. Yesterday I decided to taste my own vag juice and it was salty sour something. so after reading all this, I decided to try few things

    exercise regularly, less caffeine, no smoke, melon, pineapple, 100% pure cranberry juice, Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily with freshly squeezed lemon, plain fat free yogurt everyday, diet less in red meats, higher in veggies and fruits.

    I’ll check again if there will be changes after one week.

  42. SweetNsouR Says:

    a couple summers ago I was really into making a mixed fruit bowl everyday. I smelled very sweet. now it is sometimes sour smelling. I don’t douche, nor have a period due to birth control. I am going to try cutting out some foods or add more water and get into the fruit habit again.

  43. BitterMe Says:

    I’m having bad yeast infections frequently what can I do to stop this? I also have bitter tasting white discharge which makes my vagina taste bitter whenever I receive oral sex. How can I change this?

  44. Effie Says:

    Hi, everyone. Im surelly going to try all these tips you guys posted. I really feel my vagina tastes bad, like really bitter. When my boyfriend gives me oral I always kiss him after and he has this really strong, funny smell/taste. I’m starting to feel really self-conscious. I really want him to go down on me, as I can’t have an orgasm just by penetration, but I know I taste bad. I do smoke but I’m not ready to quit that. I’d try with the diet. Please keep posting!

  45. betternow Says:

    Hi, As of 2 weeks ago, I had a really bad smell (fishy and lots of discharge), and I just got tired of it. I came online, read alot of articles… I think I had either BV or a yeast infection. Not sure. But I took out most of the sugar I was eating in my diet, started preparing foods at home, but most importantly and what I think helped a lot was that I went to a good holistic grocery store that sold vitamins, and I bought 1) acidophilus (iflora women’s multi probiotic) 2) garlic (garlinase) 3) cranberry 500mg4) a women’s multivitamin new chapter women’s one daily 5) folic acid 6) B12 1000mg and 6)Folic Acid 400mcg

    I started taking everything all at once at night right before going to sleep. And after a few days of doing this my smell started to go away. It even cleared up the really awful smell towards the end of my cycle. I also starting about a month and a half ago really increased my water intake to 6 to 8 cups of water a day from not really drinking water at all. Last but not least, I am pretty much dairy free, and all the supplements I am taking are gluten free/vegetarian.

    On the downside some of the vitamins are pretty good. I’m willing to look past it though because the combination of everything has made me not have any bad/irregular/way too much discharge on top of the small going away. And I want to smell good for myself. And for any future partner I may have.

    It’s made my self esteem really rise alot. I feel so much more healthy. Background, I’m not on the pill or any medications like antibiotics or anything, nor am I a doctor.

    Just wanted to share what has worked for me, in such a short time.

  46. Claire Says:

    So, five days ago, i cheated on my boyfriend. (It was a HUGE mistake and i truely regret it now) But today I tasted myself and found that i tasted very bitter. Could it be from the condom? What can i do to get by pussy back to its normal taste? How long?

  47. Johnny Says:

    ^ I doubt that a condom would make you taste/smell weird a week later. I think that’s your conscience playing tricks on you.

  48. Preggy Says:

    I have been pregnant now for 4 1/2 months. My partner told me I was sour, but I don’t think it has anything to do with smoking or drinking. When I was smoking and drinking I was fine, in fact I was really sweet. During my pregnancy I have been eating quite healthily as well and havent been drinking or smoking for a while.I think I have thrush and I will be talking to my midwife about it but itt is normal and your pussy wasn’t made to be eaten so I guess if it doesn’t taste good for now too bad. And if you have been drinking beer, remember that beer contains yeast and also I don’t think smoking would affect your vag. Find a doctor you probably have thrush.

  49. Nia Says:

    Does not having sex for about a month cause you to taste different?

  50. Johnny Says:

    ^ Yeah, it makes you bitter!! Aaaahahaha!! Get it…?

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