Obstetrics and gynaecology

Why Does My Period Smell so Bad?

If you are a female and reading this, you definitely know about periods and menstruation. But let me clear you one thing, you are still unaware of some facts about periods. During the menstrual cycle, women face irritation and sometimes cramps. This is a reproductive phase of a women’s life. Every month, women face periods with cramps and blood flow. It is perfectly normal for this combination to have a slight odor as it exits the vagina. This is most likely due to the vaginal substance itself, but bacteria and acidity may also be involved. In some abnormal cases, periods may have an awful smell that is not normal.

There are many reasons behind the bad smell of your periods. In the coming sections, you’ll learn about smelly periods and their causes.

What are the Menstrual cycles or Periods?

When you get your period, blood and tissue from your uterus leak into your vaginal canal. If we talk about average cases, it happens once a month.

Every month, your menstrual cycle assists your body in preparing for pregnancy. If you are not pregnant, it will also cause you to have a period. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone regulate your menstrual cycle and period. You have two ovaries, each of which contains a large number of eggs. The eggs are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye.

What is the Mechanism of Periods?

Hormones cause the eggs in your ovaries to mature during your menstrual cycle; when an egg is mature, it is ready to be fertilized by a sperm cell. These hormones also thicken and spongify the lining of your uterus. This lining, like almost everything else inside our bodies, is of tissue and blood. It contains a lot of nutrients that can help a pregnancy grow. So, if your egg is fertilized, it will have a nice cozy place to land and begin a pregnancy.

Ovulation occurs when your hormones tell one of your ovaries to release a mature egg about halfway through your menstrual cycle. Most people don’t notice when they ovulate, but some ovulation symptoms include bloating, spotting, or a slight pain in your lower abdomen that you may feel only on one side.

After leaving your ovary, the egg travels through one of your fallopian tubes to your uterus.

If you do not become pregnant, your body does not require the thick lining in your uterus. Your lining degrades, and blood, nutrients, and tissue exit your body via your vagina. It’s finally your period!

If you do become pregnant, your body requires the lining, which is why your period will stop during pregnancy. When you are no longer pregnant, your period returns.

Start and Stop of Periods in your Life

Blood comes out of your vagina at some point during puberty, and this is your first period. Most girls get their first period between 12 and 14, but some girls get them earlier or later. There is no way to predict when you will get it, but you may experience some PMS symptoms (link to PMS section) a few days before it occurs.

If you haven’t had your period by the age of 16, it is a matter of concern, and you should see a doctor.

Menopause is when most women stop having their periods between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause can last several years, and menstrual cycles usually change gradually during this time. You can’t get pregnant after menopause is completely over. Find out more about menopause.

Your period may begin and end around the same time as it did for other people in your family, such as your mother or sisters.

Bad Smell of Periods

Period odors are generally undetectable to others. Good hygiene practices can also help to reduce normal period odors and make you feel more at ease during menstruation.

A strong odor from “down there” should be taken seriously because it could be a sign of an infection. In such cases, the odors are accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal discharge or pelvic pain that is not associated with normal menstruation.

Learn about some of the most common odors associated with periods, as well as which symptoms necessitate a doctor’s visit.

Periods smells like death

Your period can cause an odor, which can vary from month to month.

Some women say their period “smells like death,” but this isn’t always a cause for concern. The strong odor is most likely caused by blood and tissues exiting the vagina, along with bacteria. Bacteria in the vagina are normal, though the amount can vary. The resulting “rotten” odor from bacteria mixed with the menstrual flow should not be strong enough to detect others. You may be able to control such odors by changing pads and tampons frequently, especially on days when you have a lot of flow.

When a tampon is left in for too long or forgotten, it can develop a “rotten” odor. This can happen at the end of a period when you don’t need to insert a new tampon as frequently, and there is no more bleeding. If you are concerned that you may have forgotten to remove a tampon, try to feel for the strings at the opening of your vagina. If you can’t feel them, schedule a vaginal exam with your doctor to confirm.

Consult your doctor if your period stinks, and you have any unusual symptoms. Something else could be going on.

The fishy smell of periods:

During menstruation, some women report a “fishy” odor. Unlike other common odors, fishiness usually indicates a medical problem that necessitates a visit to the doctor. This odor is commonly due to the association with bacterial vaginosis, a type of infection. It also has a much stronger odor than a typical period smell.

If the “fishy” smell is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you may have bacterial vaginosis.

  • Irritation, especially during urination
  • Burning
  • Vaginal discharge outside of menstrual bleeding.

Bacterial vaginosis may be noticeable during your period, but it is not due to it. It is due to an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria.

While the exact cause of this overgrowth is unknown, bacterial vaginosis appears to be more common in sexually active women. Douching may also increase your chances of contracting this infection. Antibiotics are usually in use to treat bacterial vaginosis. After treatment, the bacteria should be balanced out, and you should no longer experience any unusual odors or other symptoms during your period.

Periods smell “metallic.”

Period blood can have a metallic odor, similar to a copper coin. This is usually due to iron in the blood and is not a cause for concern. However, if it persists after your period has ended, you should consult your doctor.

Other Odor Changes of Periods

Other odor changes that may occur during your period include a “sweaty gym” odor or an odor of onions or salt. These are most likely the result of poor hygiene during the menstrual cycle. Menstruation odors can be reduced by practicing good hygiene habits. This can be as simple as changing tampons, liners, or pads every few hours.

Daily showers are also important, and cleaning the outside of your vagina only can help prevent period odors. Because of the risk of irritation, deodorizing products such as wipes and sprays are not in the recommendation. You shouldn’t douche either because it can kill healthy vaginal bacteria and lead to infection.

Avoid using scented tampons and other products because they can cause irritation and allergic reactions. To keep unpleasant odors at bay, use unscented products and wear breathable cotton underwear and clothing.

When to worry?

While some odors are completely normal during your period, others may indicate that you should see your doctor. This is especially true if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • Yellow or green vaginal discharge
  • The flow of blood heavier than normal bleeding
  • Stomachache
  • Pelvic pain cramps worse than normal
  • High temperature

As a general rule, you should consult your gynecologist whenever you suspect a problem with your reproductive health. While most odors are harmless, some may indicate an infection. More serious conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, can also be identified or ruled out by your doctor.

Also, read about Ovulation Bleeding

Summary

It is normal to smell periods, but you should be concerned about it if you sense an intense odor. There is no single reason behind a bad smell of your period; it varies with the type of odor. Mostly, the reason behind the smelly periods is vaginal infections. Keep in mind to avoid scented products and soaps, as they cause infections and allergic reactions.

There are many ways to treat these problems. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor. You can avoid the bad smell of periods by maintaining good hygiene. Washing your vagina with water is more than enough.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can anyone else smell my periods?

Most of the time, even if you can smell your period, it shouldn’t be strong enough for anyone else to detect. Periods are a natural part of life, and nearly everyone who has one will tell you that they’ve had a funky smell at some point – so don’t be embarrassed!
However, if the smell is very strong, or if someone else tells you that they’ve noticed a smell, make an appointment with your doctor to ensure there’s nothing serious going on.

2. After how much time should I change my tampons or pads?

Change your period protection regularly. The frequency you must change will vary depending on your flow, but 2. can experiment to see what works best for you.

3. What happens if I use soap for washing the vagina to avoid the bad smell of periods?

Maintaining your hygiene by frequently washing with a gentle bar soap around the area between your legs is not a good idea. Because the vagina is self-cleaning, simply running water over the inside is sufficient. Avoid using perfumed soaps or body washes because the scents and chemicals may upset the natural pH of your vagina.

4. How can I make my period blood smell better?

First and foremost, if you are concerned about the smell of your period at any time, consult with your doctor to ensure that no infections are present. Once you’ve eliminated the possibility of infection, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce the odor of your period blood.

5. If my periods smell sweet, should I worry about this?

Don’t be alarmed if you notice a sweet odor coming from your period blood; this is quite common and is usually caused by the acidic environment and bacteria in your vagina.



6. What are the top ten foods to avoid right before your period to avoid the bad smell of periods due to infections? I’d appreciate it if you could give me some specific foods!

According to Leslie Kenton’s book Passage to Power, it’s foods like coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar (and anything containing sugar), artificial flavorings and colorings, convenience foods, wheat, and wheat products, meat, fish, game, cigarettes, drugs, chocolate, colas, and milk and milk products… basically all refined and junk foods. It is best to consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, soy products, and other healthy foods that allow your body to detox during the premenstrual period.


7. How can I avoid smelly periods if I’m going camping or to a festival?

Reusables are more convenient when you live outside because you don’t have to worry about finding a bin for your disposable tampons and pads. They can, however, create major challenges depending on the type of washing facilities available!
If you use a cup, make sure your hands are clean, and bring a reusable water bottle with you into the toilet (or bush!) to rinse your cup if there isn’t a sink. Cup wipes or a sterilizing tablet (similar to what you’d use for a baby bottle) can also be used. All of these sanitary measures will assist you in eliminating the unpleasant odor of menstruation.

Rashmi Shrestha

Namastey!! I am Rashmi Shrestha. I am an enthusiast writer and reader. I have completed my degree Bsc. Human biology from Kathmandu University. I love to read poetry and write some too. I am looking forward to working with WOMS

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