Back in school when me and my girlfriends had just entered the world of menstruation, we believed that we could tell if someone was on their period by the way they smelled. We had absolutely no logic or scientific grounds to explain our staunch belief. It was some sort of witchery we made believe. Around the same time, an older sister of one of the girls casually said you shouldn’t get too close to people when you’re on your period because it smells bad. Of course, over the years, and thanks to better menstrual hygiene awareness, we have learnt a thing or two about period smell. That yes, while your period has an odour, it seldom ever reaches other people.
So, what’s normal period blood smell?
Period blood is basically tissue and blood. So, obviously, it will smell a bit funky. Normal period smell is coppery, or metallic, because of the iron content in the blood that’s shed. Also, if you use pads, the blood stays in contact with the air for some time, and gets ‘oxidised’ so to speak. This is what leads to that musty metallic odour. Having said that, if your period smells really foul, there could be an issue.
When is bad period smell, bad?
Let us reiterate again – your period blood is not odourless. Some amount of metallic odour is normal. And, on some days or during some months, it may be stronger. Some women, however, experience other types of period smell – fishy or sweet. These aren’t normal, and usually indicate some issue down there.
If your vagina smells fishy, then there’s something fishy happening. Fishy odour usually indicates bacterial vaginosis. This holds true for when you’re on your period, too. Bacterial vaginosis requires medical attention, and is easily treated with antibiotics. Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active.
Can’t imagine how period blood can smell ‘sweet’. But well, it does for some women, sometimes. Sweet smelling period also indicates an abnormal presence of some bacteria in the vagina. Or, it could be because of your PH levels becoming too acidic.
It could also just be poor hygiene
How often do you change your pad? Or tampon? Many women keep a pad on for ten to twelve hours, and change it only when it is completely soaked. This isn’t the most hygienic thing to do. You should change your pad every four to five hours, no matter how much you’re bleeding. On your light days, you can wear panty liners or smaller and thinner pads. But, change every few hours. This is because we have sweat glands in our groin, and not changing your sanitary napkin often enough can lead to a smelly period and rashes. If the funky period smell is because of this, simply tweaking your menstrual hygiene habits will fix the issue.
I write. I read. I do yoga. I hula hoop. I love cats and dogs in equal measure. I'd say the same for wine. My zen motto: "Eat kale for the body, cake for the soul." Find me on IG: @prachigangwani87