This story is over 5 years old.

Vice Blog


To close out Hallo-week-n on the blog, we went out and asked a bunch of folks the perennial chin-scratcher: What does the inside of your body smell like? Folks had some pretty good guesses (we're with the girl who says inside of an ass), but we had a burning itch to know the truth, so we asked a brain- and regular-surgeon to rate each of their answers and see how close they were to the mark. Happy eating!


Lily (left): It probably smell likes cold steak, like meat. But I think it also might have a little metallic scent, like a penny.
Dr. James says: "No, not really. During surgery, you usually use electrocautery to stop the bleeding and that just smells like barbeque, because you’re actually cooking the meat. That definitely does smell like food, but when it’s just living flesh, it doesn’t really smell like much."

Linden (right): Bile and vomit.
Dr. James says: "Depends on where you are. If you’re in the abdomen or the belly, and you cut into the gut or the stomach, then that’s exactly what it smells like."

David: Some part smells good and some parts smell bad, like the rectum smells like doo doo. Like a big turd.
Dr. James says: "That’s pretty accurate. The rectum does smell like a big turd full of shit. Nothing really smells good in the body though. Sometimes when you have a dying organ,  the bacteria give off a certain odor and it smells kind of like fruit. Then that combines with the rotting flesh and you end up with a real sweet-and-bitter type of a smell. It’s not 'good,' but it’s better than shit.

Dan: Jarlsberg cheese.
Dr. James says: "I don’t know what Jarlsberg smells like, but as far as cheese goes, the answer is sometimes yes. But it's not really the inside of the body that smells like cheese, where you get that is when a really fat woman has built up smegma underneath her breasts or in the creases of her legs."


Edward: Uhh, let’s see‚Ķ I bet certain organs probably have particular smells.  Maybe if you go to a butcher shop or somewhere they slaughter animals. Does like, blood have a smell?  Probably a lot of that.
Dr. James says: "Usually there's not much of a blood smell. Like I said, in surgery a lot of scents get overwhelmed by the smell of burning flesh from the electrocautery. It's kind of its own distinct smell, but when you’re burning through muscle and soft tissue in general, it really does smell like barbeque. It’s the same type of tissue. When you’re in the OR for hours and hours and you haven't had time to eat all day, it actually starts to smell kind of good. Some people find it disgusting and it turns them off of barbecue, but that's pretty rare. Most people get used to it early on. What really smells very different and is really disgusting is when something’s infected. Then you have bacteria that make their own smells and those run the full spectrum."

Eric: It probably smells like Play-doh. You know how Play-doh has a distinct smell?  It’s kind of good, but also kind of weird? Something like the Play-doh.
Dr. James says: "Nope."

Taryn: It probably smells like the inside of your ass. That and burps.
Dr. James says: "If you’re in the abdomen and you puncture into the bowel, that’s pretty accurate. If you just cut into the abdomen, you don’t get that, because it's a sterile cavity. There’s some fluid in there, but if you’re not infected with anything, it doesn’t really smell like anything. Maybe a little sweaty. But if you poke into the gut or into the lining of the intestine, then you get all the half-digested food and it will smell like vomit or whatever you ate. And then the further down the bowel you go the more it smells like shit because the food’s turning into shit."


Imani: Probably smells very raw, like shit. Like really, really raw shit.
Dr. James says: "Yep. Pretty spot on."

James: Depends on what you eat and how you live. If you run around sweating all the time and don’t bathe, it’s gonna smell bad. If you take care of yourself and eat healthy it'll be better. Also it depends on how much garlic you eat.
Dr. James says: "It’s true that food will affect how you smell to some degree, what gets secreted through your pores and skin, but not always in the way you would imagine. Like I said, there are bacteria that live in your gut and they digest that food you eat, and they produce gases and different byproducts and it’s not always what you’d expect. So eating something that smells good doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to smell good.  " The thing is the body doesn't smell too much when it's alive. It's really when something starts to decay that it gets bad. Once you do an autopsy to a body and stick the formalin in, that's when things start to get a really strong smell and people get grossed out. But generally it's just the smell of the formalin itself. Probably the most disgusting part of the body is the inside of a vagina though. That’s the worst smell I’ve ever smelt in my life. Especially when there's an infection.  " It's funny he should bring up garlic, because I once had a girl who had a little bacterial infection, and followed some home remedy that said to put a clove of garlic in her vagina. I’m trying to do an exam on her and all of a sudden a disgusting, mushy, rotted ball of garlic pops out. I sort of threw up in my mouth at that point."