The Vagina Mysteries: Arousal, Taste and Smell

Moist vagina: Here is what happens to your body when you’re aroused

Vulvas have a long and complex history – sometimes revered, often feared and severely criticized by the male gaze. Unrealistic and misleading expectations have contributed to shame, low self-esteem and low libido in vulva owners throughout the ages. And when it comes to the internal workings of the vagina – we are taught an arsenal of myths about “proper” stimulation response, taste and smell. It’s time to debunk the lies we’ve been told and celebrate the complex ecosystem that is…our vaginas.

Does arousal always mean getting wet?

The most important thing to consider is: every body is different. Some of us can get wet in a relatively short amount of time, even with very little non-penetrative stimulation. Others, not so much – it’s all a matter of natural design. And that’s completely okay. But one thing is for certain: a wet vagina is not the only ‘true’ sign of a woman’s arousal. Otherwise, why would lubrication exist!? Nevertheless, what actually happens to the body when it gets aroused? We’ll explain – without giggling.

“Baby, I love it when your Bartholin glands gets activated,” said no one ever. But that’s precisely what the words “I love it when you get wet” mean. But to be clear – the vagina doesn’t really “get” wet: it already is. At least, a little bit. Small amounts of vaginal discharge inside a woman’s panties are completely normal and healthy. The liquid helps to flush out bacteria from the vaginal canal. In other words, this sex organ is pretty darn clever and comes equipped with its very own self-cleaning mechanism.

Wet vagina? Thanks, Bartholin glands!

In addition to these – let’s call them “everyday” – vaginal secretions, there are other fluids that can appear when we are aroused. Specifically, there are two types of bodily products. The everyday vaginal secretion with its cleansing function mostly originates from the cervical glands inside the cervix and uterine wall. That’s why it’s also called cervical mucus.

But when you’re literally (or metaphorically) between the sheets and aroused, there’s a different liquid secreted from the Bartholin glands. This special fluid’s primary function is to moisturize and ease penetration – whether a finger, penis or sex toy is the object of arousal. Fact: the Bartholin glands only jump into action when you’re aroused.

But that’s not the end of the story. There are also the Skene’s glands, which are close to the urethra and are also known as prostate feminine (female prostate). They produce fluid that mixes with the other vaginal secretions. By the way, some scientists believe that the Skene’s glands have something to do with squirting, but that’s not scientifically proven.

Yup! Your vulva sweats!

Now, the curious reader may be wondering: why does the whole of the vagina feel wet during sex or foreplay, and not just the vaginal opening which is moistened by the glands? Fair question. The answer is so-called vaginal sweating. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound particularly sexy, but I guess that’s a matter of taste. Vaginal sweating is a phenomenon caused by increased blood flow during sexual arousal. The combined pressure leads to vaginal swelling. There’s also the added pressure created by the vaginal fluid. And that’s how your beautiful vulva begins to sweat. Yes? Did you really want to know all that? My pleasure.

By the way: If you sometimes experience issues with getting wet – don’t worry. Many women have this problem for many different reasons. What can help: sex toys like the Womanizer DUO 2. Its exceptional Pleasure Air Technology for clitoral stimulation combined with internal g-spot vibrations can build up lust for an aroused, wet vagina.

Womanizer DUO 2

What effects vagina taste and smell?

From perfumed douches to scented wipes, vaginas are constantly being told what to do in the taste and smell department. First things first – vaginas are NOT meant to taste and smell like fruit, candy or a warm summer breeze. There is no one standard as to what vaginas should taste like, just like there is no one standard as to what vulvas and vaginas should look like. Nodding to the earlier ‘complex ecosystem’, smell and taste of vaginas change and can be cyclical! Think hormone cycles and monthly menstruation. For example, the taste of vagina can be a bit more metallic during and after menstruation due to iron content.

Vaginal pH levels contribute to smell and taste of vagina. Factors that can throw off vaginal pH include scented soaps, douches and detergents, as well as tight fitting clothing. Perfumed pads and tampons can also be irritating, so opt for unscented alternatives. Your vagina knows how to clean and regulate itself, so the best plan of care is to simply wash with warm water.

Does semen effect smell and taste of vagina?

Short answer, it can. Semen has a higher pH than the vagina and fun fact alert! –  the vagina raises its pH when in contact with semen to protect the sperm for fertilization. This is temporary of course, but if vaginal pH levels stay too high for too long, bacterial balance can get thrown off leading to infections such as bacterial vaginosis. That’s why it’s good to know your own unique smell and even taste to clock any changes. Notice any major shifts in smell – such as strong fishy scents to indicate a not-so-happy-vagina.

So…what is the smell and taste of vagina?

YOU! And that’s why it should be celebrated and not smothered with irritating scents and deodorant. Don’t be shy – form a relationship with your vagina and get to know its smell and taste. If you need some help with descriptive terms for the smell and taste of vagina…

…musky, bitter, sour, salty, briny, earthy, deep, neutral, sweet, natural, oceanic, tidal, metallic…DELICIOUS, INTOXICATING, HEADY…shall I go on?


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Frieda worked as a freelance journalist for over 10 years: She used to write about Easter recipes and style icons, about human metabolism and Michelin-rated restaurants. In short: about everything, except for sex. And for a good reason. Frieda always considered herself to be an average sexual person for all those years. Until a breakup persuaded her to stop taking the pill, which she had been on for 14 years. It was then, at the age of 28, that she finally discovered her wonderful sexuality and found her true, unique and hungry libido. Ever since, she has not only practiced a new sexuality. She writes and speaks about it too. And has never been as fulfilled as she is today!