June 6, 2023

  • Sweat, changes in vaginal bacteria, and perimenopause may change the smell of menstrual blood.
  • A new, unpleasant smell may also indicate an infection or, in some rare cases, cervical cancer.
  • If practicing good hygiene and changing menstrual products on time doesn’t help, call your doctor.

There is no doubt that your menstrual cycle can cause some very unusual smells.

“Menstrual blood includes vaginal mucus and endometrial cells. These combine with blood to give off a unique smell,” says Dr. Yana Markidana gynecologist in private practice.

But your blood should generally smell similar every month, whether it’s metallic, sweet, or something else. If you notice a new smell during your menstrual cycle, it could be a sign that something isn’t quite right, especially since vaginal odors can be a sign of infection.

Here are the seven most common reasons your period smells stronger than usual and what to do next.

1. Natural vaginal bacteria mixed with blood

Although everyone’s body is different, blood in a healthy period is usually due to iron and copper The blood levels are mixed with vaginal bacteria.

Menstrual blood may take on a different smell if the mix of bacteria in the vagina (the vaginal microbiome) changes.

common culprits Those that may disrupt the vaginal microbiome include:

  • rinse
  • smokes
  • hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause
  • sexually transmitted infection

How to treat: Practicing good vaginal and vulvar hygiene will help keep your vaginal microbiome healthy and help reduce the strong smell of your period.

If you’ve noticed a strong smell, try some of the following Tips for Good Vaginal Hygiene (If this does not help, consult a doctor):

  • Wash your vulva with lukewarm water every day and after sex — remember, you don’t need to wash your vagina.
  • Breathable cotton underwear.
  • Wash new underwear before wearing.
  • Avoid rinsing and scratching anywhere below.

2. Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

During menstruation, or periods, you lose “good” bacteria called lactobacilli, says Markiden. This can make you more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Markiden says bacterial vaginosis is the most common medical cause of vaginal odor. If you have it, you may notice a fishy smell in there, which may mix with your blood during your period, creating a particularly pungent smell.

Other symptoms of BV include:

  • burning, especially when urinating or having sex
  • green, grey or white discharge
  • severe itching

How to treat: If you think you have BV, you need to seek medical attention. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to clear the bacterial infection.

Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter probiotics after the infection clears to help keep your microbiome balanced and reduce the chance of getting BV again.

3. Menstrual products are left on or left for too long

If you leave a tampon, pad or menstrual cup in for too long, you may notice a strong bloody smell.

How often should you change your menstrual products? Well, it might depend on which product you prefer:

How to treat: Changing menstrual products on time can reduce odor and help reduce your risk of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and toxic shock syndrome.

4. Excessive sweating

Sweating more than usual is a Common symptoms of menstruationAnd, if you sweat between your legs during menstruation, that can make your vaginal area smell like a dirty gym pack.

Sweat glands in the genital area can amplify the scent of the vaginal microbiome and the natural scent of the skin.combined Salt, Fat and Bacteria When sweating mixes with menstrual blood, it creates a strong odor mix.

How to treat: If sweating is the culprit, gently washing the vulva with warm water and mild soap should remove the odor.

“During your menstrual cycle, you should use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser. Soap can dry out the skin and change the sensitive pH of the vulva, making you susceptible to infections,” says Markidan.

5. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you notice a foul-smelling pus-like smell with abnormal discharge, you may have an STI such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea.

That said, with STIs, the smell will persist after your period ends.

Other symptoms of chlamydia and trichomoniasis include:

  • yellow, green, or other abnormally colored discharge that may mix with blood during your menstrual cycle
  • non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain in the lower abdomen that feels similar to menstrual cramps
  • Vaginal itching, burning, or pain—especially during urination or vaginal intercourse

Also keep in mind that STIs don’t always involve smell or any obvious symptoms.

How to treat: A 5, 7 or 10 day course of antibiotics can treat trichomoniasis and chlamydia.

“Avoid douching and vaginal steaming, and clean your sex toys as they can transmit STIs,” says Dr. Sophia YenCEO Pandya Health and Stanford School of Medicine professor.

6. Cervical cancer

cervical cancer can cause strong stench in your genital area. Some say the smell is similar to rotting meat, and it’s created when your body sheds dead tissue or cancer cells, which are then excreted through the vagina.

cervical cancer can cause heavier traffic or longer periods, you may notice that the smell gets stronger during your period.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide common cancer typesalthough it is less common in the US Due to higher annual Pap smear and vaccination rates.It is most often diagnosed before menopause, in 35 and 44.

Common symptoms include:

  • spotting or bleeding during menstruation
  • low back pain that feels similar to menstrual cramps
  • Pain or bleeding after sex due to tumor growth
  • exhausted
  • Difficulty holding back urine
  • leg pain and swelling
  • Unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite

How to treat: If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your OB-GYN for a Pap test.Depending on the results, your care team may recommend further testing and biopsy.

treat For cervical cancer, this includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these.

7. Perimenopause

Perimenopause can cause hormonal changes and vaginal dryness, which can cause unusual vaginal odor during your period.

This is because your vaginal pH gradually becomes alkaline and estrogen levels fluctuate, causing heavier and irregular Periods that can amplify vaginal odor.

Other signs of perimenopause include:

How to treat: Estrogen therapy and vitamins can increase vaginal lubrication and improve odor due to vaginal discharge Change Response to a combination of hormonal and dietary factors.

If you don’t want to take hormones, a healthcare professional can provide more information about other treatment options, including vaginal lubrication.

Insider Takeaways

In most cases, menstrual odor is not a cause for concern. Changing menstrual supplies on time and gently cleaning the vulva with water and a mild cleanser can remove any odors.

If you notice other symptoms, such as nausea or pain, or just feel that something is not right, contact your doctor as soon as possible. They can help you identify possible causes and recommend the right treatment to help you feel better.

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