Should the period smell?
Is the smell of period a normal thing to happen? This is something that some women often ask themselves. There is not much talk about this subject but surely you have noticed that menstruation has a particular smell. You may also wonder if that smell is normal and if there is any way to eliminate it. Don’t worry! It is completely natural and in today's article we will explain how to control it and when to worry.
The first thing to clarify is that menstruation is much more than just blood, it also contains bacteria, fluids, tissues and more. That's why the period doesn't smell exactly like blood. The smell of the menstruation is produced by expelling the red blood cells contained in the blood and staying in the pad or tampon for some period of time. Between the heat that your body gives off in that area, the rapid decomposition and the time it remains covered, a series of bacteria begin to develop causing the smell.
You might also notice that it smells sometimes like iron. This is due to changes in the PH level, in addition to the blood containing large amounts of iron. The vagina has an acid level, so it is normal for some bacteria to remain under control all the time, but during those days, it changes the acidity and can produce that iron smell, but it is not dangerous.
How to control the smell of the period?
In general terms, the smell of the period should not be noticeable to others. Having good hygiene practices can help fight odours and make you feel more comfortable during menstruation.
- Avoid humidity: keeping the vaginal area dry and avoiding humidity is basic, although the smell of menstruation is not unpleasant and is completely natural. Remember to change your pad or tampon every 3 or 4 hours to feel more comfortable. You can also use wipes to clean and dry well when finished.
- 100% cotton underwear: we recommend wearing 100% cotton underwear, especially during the period to reduce the sweating of your vaginal area, although sweat is not the cause of the smell during your period, it could affect. In addition, cotton is the most breathable material and will help you breathe the area.
- Use the menstrual cup: it is the hygiene accessory that produces less odors since it collects the bleeding without having direct contact with the skin or with oxygen, which decreases the humidity and the production of bacteria. If you want to try them we recommend the Nur brand that makes the menstrual cups with the best raw material, the surgical silicone.
- Avoid douching: we understand that the issue of the smell of menstruation can overwhelm you a lot, but remember that it is completely normal and that no one but you really perceives it if you have the proper hygiene habits. Vaginal showers are related to many vaginal infections that cause a very unpleasant smell since they unbalance the ph of the area. Washing a little outside is enough.
How to know if the smell of the period is not "normal"?
A strong smell "down there" may be a cause for concern, as it could be a sign of an infection. In such cases, odours are accompanied by other symptoms, such as intense vaginal discharge or pelvic pain that is not related to normal menstruation.
Some women say they have a "fishy" smell during menstruation. Unlike other common odours, the fishy smell usually indicates a health problem for which a doctor should be consulted. This smell is most often attributed to bacterial vaginosis, a type of infection. It is also much stronger than a normal period smell.
You can have bacterial vaginosis if the smell of "fish" is accompanied by:
- Burning, especially when urinating
- Vaginal discharge outside menstrual bleeding
Bacterial vaginosis may be more noticeable during the period, but it is not caused by the menstrual cycle. It is the result of the overgrowth of healthy vaginal bacteria.
While the exact cause of this overgrowth is not understood, bacterial vaginosis seems to be most common in sexually active women. Douching can also increase your risk of this type of infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics. Once the bacteria is balanced after treatment, you should no longer notice unusual odors or other symptoms during your period.
The menstruation colour
It is not only important to look at the smell but also the color of our menstruation. A few weeks ago we dedicated an article to talk about what colors indicate a healthy period and which ones indicate infections or diseases. You can find all the information here.
Featured illustration made by Lena Gaik.