What's the Deal with Period Blood Smells & Other Vaginal Odors?
You know your body, when something’s wrong it’s likely you can sense it long before a visit to the doctor even enters your mind. Maybe it’s a stomach ache, a pain in your back, or an odor.
When it comes to smells emitted by your body, these can be especially disconcerting because there’s the concern for your health that’s likely heightened by an unsettling self-consciousness. (Can other people smell me?)
Don’t worry. With menstrual fluid or period blood, odors are typically nothing to be concerned about.
During your period, there’s more than just blood that you’re expelling. This is because our menstrual fluid isn’t just blood, it can include vaginal mucus, fluid, tissue, and bacteria (the good kind, remember). The smell, therefore, depends on what the exact makeup of your menstrual blood is. Also, it can vary depending on how long its contents has been in your uterus. Old blood, for example, will smell differently than newer blood.
While you may be able to smell your period blood, know that it’s likely other people cannot. You can help yourself by maintaining normal vaginal and menstrual health practices like changing your tampon or pad regularly and wearing breathable cotton underwear to reduce sweating.
If something smells fishy, you might have a problem. This is because a fishy odor is typically associated with an imbalance of the normal bacteria that lives in your vagina, conditions like Bacterial Vagitosis (BV) can increase your risk of contracting an STI, but can be treated easily with antibiotics and you can reduce your chances of getting BV with a healthy diet and taking probiotics.
In terms of cleaning your vagina, remember it’s an inside job aka the vagina self-cleans. When you do clean yourself, there are important tips to remember to ensure you don’t do more damage than good and you’re working to maintain a happy, healthy vagina.