Evvy Makes Sense of Vaginal Scents

Everything doesn’t need to be coming up roses, especially when it involves your vaginal health. Women have long been told by the beauty industry that their vaginas should be odorless or even worse, smell like flowers — and that’s not normal. 

Evvy, a company co-founded by Priyanka Jain and Laine Bruzek, would like to remove the stigma behind vaginal odor, and vaginal health in general. While there are plenty of products on the market to mask vaginal scents, Evvy’s co-founders argue it’s actually more important to learn what’s normal for you — and whether abnormal smell might be your body’s way of telling you something’s up down there.

Jain and Bruzek, who met as undergraduates at Stanford University, are eager to change the paradigm in which we view vaginal health. 

Evvy is demystifying and destigmatizing vaginal health with their groundbreaking at-home vaginal microbiome test. Evvy’s test is the first to ever use metagenomic sequencing to help women and their providers better understand what’s going on in their vaginal microbiome. 

The big “wow” moment when Jain and Bruzek decided to launch Evvy came when they learned that women were not required to be included in clinical research in the United States until 1993. “There’s so much we don’t know about the female body, which is depressing but also an incredible opportunity,” Jain said on the Moss & Friends podcast. “There are so many more things we could be measuring, such as hormones, menstrual cycles, and vaginal microbiomes. Better understanding female biomarkers could help us better diagnose and treat disease.” 

Jain sees Evvy as an avenue for new research, data sets, and biomarkers to better understand health as it is specifically related to the female body. People are also a lot more comfortable with at-home tests now, especially with the explosion of at-home COVID-19 tests purchased throughout the pandemic. 

“Almost every woman has had at least one vaginal infection in their lifetime — like a yeast infection, BV, or a UTI. Vaginal infections are the most common infection in women after the common cold,” Bruzek said. “They’re the number one reason women go to the OB-GYN.”

The reality is, there is no one way a healthy vagina should smell, according to teenvogue.com. In fact, every woman has her own unique scent. But what tale is a woman’s body attempting to tell with its various smells? It turns out that it ranges from nothing to worry about to something more serious.

If your vagina smells tangy or musky…

That’s likely normal! Again, it’s important to pay attention to what is normal for you but a slight tangy smell or unique musk is a common vaginal scent that is not associated with infection. 

If your vagina smells metallic…

Due to iron levels in blood, vaginas can give off a coppery odor during menstruation or light post-sex bleeding. Contact with semen might also give off a metallic-y smell. This should dissipate after your period or post-sex clean-up. 

If your vagina smells like BO…

Blame it on the sweat glands. Stressed sweat glands can produce fluids that smell like body odor or smell “skunkish,” according to sheknows.com. 

If your vagina smells like cleaning products…

Urine is a common culprit behind vaginas possessing a chemical smell. When someone is dehydrated and/or skimping on their water intake, urine may have an ammonia undertone to it. The strong scent could also be the result of using spermicides or lube, or vaginal fluids mixing with semen. 

If your vagina smells fishy…

An unusual fishy smell could indicate there is something wrong, according to evvy.com. Bacterial vaginosis, which is caused by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina, can cause this smell, according to healthline.com. Trichomoniasis, which is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection, may also be responsible. 

The more someone one knows their own body, the better attuned they will be to knowing what’s normal and what’s smelling totally off! 

Analyzing vaginal discharge and discovering what’s abnormal is integral to women’s health

“As women, we all have our own stories of feeling misunderstood or underdiagnosed at the doctor’s office,” Priyanka Jain said during a YouTube talk with Kristina Mand-Lakhiani. “For so long, that’s just been the status quo for women. Oftentimes, the health care system doesn’t understand what’s happening in our bodies.”

On average, women are diagnosed four years later than men across 770 different diseases, according to Jain, and they’re 50% more likely to be incorrectly diagnosed when they have a heart attack.

“So many women who have come to us have disengaged from the health care system,” Bruzek said during the Moss & Friends Podcast. “They have had tons of infections and go to the doctor. They get a drug. They go away and it happens again. To be honest, I think providers are frustrated, too. I think it’s really hard to be a provider to someone who’s coming back with their 12th infection, who’s begging you for more information or another solution that isn’t just another round of antibiotics.”

Bruzek and Jain are excited to see women have more productive conversations about their healthcare with providers and give doctors the tools to help them understand what’s actually going on. 

Evvy’s research behind vaginal microbiomes is extensive

The vaginal microbiome has huge implications on women’s overall health, according to Jain. “It turns out the vaginal microbiome plays a role in whether or not someone has a preterm birth or their cervical cancer progresses or if they’ll have fertility issues or if they’ll acquire an STI,” Jain said. “This causes day-to-day frustrations for almost all women because we have no access to that information for our own bodies. And at no point in the health care journey is anyone using that data to make better decisions. That’s the first thing we want to change with Evvy.”

Jain also emphasizes the importance of sex-specific health and how to leverage that to better understand what programs, drugs, or lifestyle changes are going to manifest differently in female-bodied vs. male-bodied people. 

Evvy is building a better community for women to understand their health

Inclusivity is another pillar of Evvy’s mission. “Community led us to the brand and I think the way we build community is by educating them in a personalized way that meets them where they are,” Bruzek said.

 “We want to help them elevate their own body literacy and ability to advocate for themselves in the health care system, and introduce them to each other so they can support each other in what can be a very taboo experience.”

Bruzek is also frustrated with the system trying to tell women they know more about our bodies than they do. “It’s on us to elevate the narratives of the incredible forward-thinking physicians we are working with so we can change the system,” Bruzek said. “But it’s going to take a lot of amazing women and their providers standing up and sharing their stories.”