Why You Smell a Certain Way After Sex, According to a Doctor

Foul down-there odor after sex? Health’s resident medical editor explains what it could mean.

Some odor after sex makes sense: You’re doing an aerobic activity that involves vaginal secretions, possibly semen, a lubricant, and a latex condom, not to mention two sweaty humans. But if the scent definitely smells off, there could be an underlying health-related reason.

Is the smell noticeably fishy? Then there’s a chance it’s due to a condition known as bacterial vaginosis (BV), which occurs when there is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina. While many women with BV don’t have symptoms, some might notice a thin white discharge, pain, itching, and a fishy odor that may be especially strong after having sex. Some STDs, such as trichomoniasis, can also cause a foul odor.

Anytime you’re concerned about a sex-related smell (or any down-there odor), don’t hesitate to see your ob-gyn, who can screen for these conditions and prescribe antibiotics if need be to treat an STD or BV quickly.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.