Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
My boyfriend enjoys giving me oral sex, but lately he says my discharge smells and tastes different to him. What could be wrong?
My boyfriend enjoys giving me oral sex, but lately he says my discharge smells and tastes different to him. Do I have an infection? What else could cause this?
Lisa Oldson, MD on September 14, 2011
Thanks for sharing your questions...I’ll do my best to offer you some useful information.
You’re right…a change in vaginal smell can sometimes indicate that you have an infection. A yeast infection can cause your discharge to smell “yeasty.” Or, if you have bacterial vaginosis (BV), some people describe the associated smell as “fishy” or like “strong cheese.”
Another vaginal infection that can cause an off-smell in your discharge is the STD trichomoniasis. Most people who describe the smell of vaginal discharge caused by trichomoniasis just says it smells foul.
Most of these infections are also accompanied by other symptoms. For example, if you have a yeast infection, you might experience vaginal itching and possibly a thicker discharge than usual. With trichomoniasis, vaginal discharge is sometimes a green-yellow color...you may also experience a burning sensation or painful sex, and you may have to pee more often.
For a definite diagnosis, I encourage you to see your doctor for a full examination of what might be causing your symptoms.
Other infections could also potentially change the way you taste...so you and your boyfriend might want to get tested for common STDs. In fact, annual testing for chlamydia is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all women under 25, as well as all women who have new or multiple sex partners. Other common STDs include gonorrhea, herpes, HIV and syphilis.
If you and your boyfriend get tested, you'll know each other’s STD status (if you don’t already), and you’ll be able to take appropriate precautions, if needed. You’ll also be on the right track for treatment, if either of you tests positive for an STD. You can find out more about STD symptoms, risks and testing in our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
Although there isn’t much scientific data on the subject of vaginal taste, there are many theories...some say that certain foods, vitamins or medications can cause a change vaginal taste.
Whether or not that’s true, a healthy diet is always a good idea, including a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein...and possibly including low-sugar, low-fat yogurt (some research says yogurt can help keep the vaginal organisms in good balance).
Also, avoid foods that are overly sugary or full of fat, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy diet.
Thanks again for writing, and I wish you and your boyfriend good health.
Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.