Does your period blood smell foul? An ob-gyn tells you all about it
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 20, 2023
I still remember the mix of nerves and excitement I felt when I got my first period. As I asked my mother for a pad, I couldn’t help but wonder about this complex experience that most women, like me, have a love-hate relationship with. Periods bring with them pain, cramps, skin issues, and yes, that distinctive period blood smell! You might be sure that it’s harmless, but you’re still curious to know more.
So, why does period blood smell the way it does? To shed light on this topic, I spoke with Dr. Pratima Thamke, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar. Here’s what she had to say.
What is Smelly Period Blood?
A menstrual period consists of the shedding of an unfertilized egg, blood, and uterine lining tissues. It’s normal for this combination to have a slight odor when it exits the vagina. This scent is most likely related to the vaginal substance itself, with bacteria and acidity potentially playing a role.
Why Does Period Blood Smell?
Period blood can have different odors for various reasons. Let’s explore the common menstrual blood odors and their causes together.
1. Rotten smell
If you experience a rotten smell, it could be due to bacteria mixing with menstrual flow. This smell indicates that it’s time to change your pad or tampon to manage the odor. It usually happens when there’s a heavy flow.
2. Fishy smell
A fishy odor could indicate an infection like bacterial vaginosis. This may be accompanied by burning sensations, especially during urination, irritation, itchiness, or vaginal discharge outside of menstrual bleeding.
3. Metallic smell
If your period smells like a copper coin, it’s likely due to the iron content in the blood. This is not a cause for concern.
4. Body odor smell
When your periods smell like body odor, it may be because of the apocrine sweat glands in the genital area. These sweat glands release sweat that mixes with bacteria on the skin, producing an odor. This type of sweat is released when a woman is on her period.
What Can Period Blood Smell Indicate?
1. Poor hygiene down there
If your period smell includes the odor of onions or salt, it could be due to inadequate hygiene practices. Dr. Thamke emphasizes the importance of keeping the area clean, changing tampons and pads regularly, taking daily showers, and wearing breathable underwear. Avoid using deodorizing products and douching as they can disrupt the healthy vaginal bacteria and lead to infections.
2. A shift in your vaginal pH balance
A slightly sweeter scent to your period blood is normal and indicates a shift in your vaginal pH balance. Typically, the pH level of a vagina ranges from 3.8 to 4.5.
3. Allergies and infections
A foul odor during your period could indicate vaginal infections or allergies. Dr. Thamke advises being attentive to any unusual smell, vaginal discharge, or spotting between periods. If you experience these symptoms, consult an expert and avoid self-medication. Only take medication prescribed by your doctor.
It’s normal for your period blood to have a slight smell, which can vary from month to month. The amount of bacteria in the vagina fluctuates, affecting the smell. A slight change in odor is usually nothing to worry about. However, if your period suddenly smells seriously rotten, it’s advisable to consult your doctor.
Remember, your period blood is a window to your health. Stay vigilant, practice good hygiene, and trust your body’s signals.