Help, My Period Blood Smells!
Updated: Sep 7
Right from the premenstrual syndrome (PMS ) symptoms that are a mix of both physical and emotional symptoms, your period does a number of things to your body. As if that is not enough, you have to deal with a period smell. The fact is periods do smell. However, think of the time you got a cut on your finger, there was no smell, right? So then why does period blood smell?
To get the answer to this question, let’s discuss what it’s about…
Is it normal for period blood to smell?
If you think about it, you’ll notice that blood generally has a certain odour. An iron-like smell. The same goes for period blood. As you already know, period blood consists of the shedding of an unfertilized egg, blood, and uterine lining tissues. The vagina’s acidic environment and the presence of different types of bacteria may also play a role in the smell of vaginal secretions and period blood. A normal pH of the vagina is 3.8–4.5, which is acidic while a pH of 7 is neutral. The presence of blood, semen, or urine in the vagina can affect the pH and cause different odours. “Healthy” periods can have a slight smell of blood. This may be a slight metallic smell from iron and bacteria.
What causes the smell?
It may surprise you to learn that the period is not the main culprit of the smell. Yes! One of the biggest reasons why there’s a smell is because it has to leave your body through the vagina, which is full of bacteria. Now before you panic, let’s remember that there are good and healthy bacteria found in the vagina. The smell should not be strong enough for other people to detect unless you suffer from bad and infectious causing bacteria which are also responsible for body odour, bad breath, stinky feet and strong vaginal odour. Keep in mind that the smell could vary month after month.
What are the different types of smell?
It’s already hard enough to identify all the different types of smells the vagina may produce but here are a few of the most common menstrual blood odours:
Metallic - More like a copper coin. This is typically due to the presence of iron in the blood and is not usually a cause for concern. However, it should not persist much longer after the period ends.
Rotten - This type of smell is often due to a foreign body, such as a tampon, left in the vagina for too long.
Sweet - A sweet smell in period blood is likely due to the acidic environment and the presence of bacteria in the vagina.
Fishy - You might notice a fishy smell during your period and also outside of menstruation. This smell is often related to an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.
Body odour - This is due to the presence of apocrine sweat glands in the genital region. Apocrine sweat mixes with bacteria on the skin to produce body odour. This type of sweat is released during periods of stress or anxiety. It is different from the sweat lost during exercise, or when the body has a high temperature.
Is there a way to improve the smell?
Usually, period blood smells are not noticeable to other people. Don’t worry you are safe! However, sometimes, unusual smells during a person’s period are related to hygiene practices. This means, that one of the best ways to improve the smell is to practice good hygiene. It is important to change your pad and tampon after every few hours.
Additionally, taking a bath daily can help keep the smell at bay but avoid strong-smelling soaps and sprays that could irritate your vagina or increase bacteria growth.
Other than that, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can help maintain the pH levels in your vagina and prevent infection.
When should I see your doctor?
Worried that your period smell is too strong?
If you start to notice unusual symptoms it’s time to call your doctor. Anything out of the ordinary requires medical attention. That goes for both discharge and smell. Other reasons to speak to a doctor include:
Yellow or green discharge
Severe pelvic or stomach pain
Cramps that are worse than normal
A doctor can help to identify whether or not a person has an infection or a more severe condition.
If you have noticed that your period blood smells metallic or like iron, that is normal. There are different types of smells associated with period blood. As long as it is not an unusual smell you have nothing to worry about. You can opt to try to improve your hygiene practices to reduce the smell. If you do notice something out of the ordinary, book an appointment with your doctor to treat the issue. Remember the sooner you see the doctor the quicker you can get treated.
Stay informed, stay in control
Have you learned something about your body today?