Why does my period blood smell so bad?

Being on your period often feels like a rollercoaster of physical and emotional changes. Your periods should be fairly consistent throughout your menstruating life, but once in a while things can change. One of those symptoms can be the smell, or odor, of your period.

Is it normal for period blood to smell?

Does period blood smell even if nothing is wrong? Yes, though it is usually pretty faint. A normal period consists of blood, menstrual fluid, excess tissue, and an unfertilized egg. This combination of bodily fluids and tissue may have a slight smell to it, often metallic because of the iron in your blood, but it generally is not very strong or overpowering. Some people can’t smell their periods at all.

What causes period blood to smell?

Period blood can sometimes be a little smelly, but it may surprise you to learn that in most cases, your period isn’t the one to blame. One of the biggest reasons why period blood smells is because it has to exit through the vagina, which is full of bacteria. While bacteria can be healthy and helpful, it’s also one of the main sources of unpleasant smells in the human body. Bad breath, body odor, stinky feet, and strong vaginal odors are all caused by odorants produced by resident bacterial flora. If you have an infection or a foreign substance like semen present in your vagina, it can disrupt your pH levels and cause strong odors to emerge. 

Period blood smells and what they mean

So what does period blood smell like normally? And what do the different smells mean? Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common period blood smells and the common causes:

Metallic: Similar to a copper coin, a metallic smell is typically caused by the presence of iron in your blood. This smell is the most common and isn’t normally a cause for concern.

Sweet: Some women have reported experiencing an almost sweet smell coming from their period blood. This is most often the result of your period blood reacting with the acidity of your vagina. 

Body Odor: It’s not uncommon to notice the smell of your period blood closely resembles body odor, especially after exercising. In most cases, this smell is not actually coming from your period blood but the skin around your vaginal opening. Sweat released by glands in your genital area mix with bacteria on your skin to create strong odors similar to B.O.

Fishy: Fishy smells may be a sign of infection. This smell often will persist after your period ends and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as unusual-looking vaginal discharge, itching, burning, or tenderness in your genital area.

Rotten: Period blood smells rotten when a foreign object has been left in the vagina for too long. Some objects, like tampons, can be removed at home, but if you can’t locate the object or if it is stuck, medical assistance may be required. 

What do bad period blood smells mean?

Most bad smells in period blood are not a result of the period blood itself, but actually are picked up as the blood passes through your vagina. In general, foul-smelling period blood is a symptom of a greater health issue, such as a vaginal infection or blockage.

When should I speak to my doctor?

You should speak to your doctor about any concerns you have with your period, especially if you think your period blood may be exhibiting unusual smells. If you are experiencing extreme period blood odor, or if the odor is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, itching, burning, pain, or unusual vaginal discharge, you should consult your doctor immediately. They will be able to diagnose the cause of the odor and help address any infections that may be causing the smell.

How can I improve the smell of my period blood?

One of the best things you can do to prevent strong period blood smells is to practice proper vagina care and good hygiene. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can help maintain the pH levels in your vagina and prevent infection. Be sure to bathe regularly and avoid strong-smelling soaps and sprays that could irritate your vagina or increase bacteria growth. Do not use a vaginal douche, as this disrupts the pH levels and can introduce harmful bacteria that may lead to an infection.

 You can also reduce period blood smells by being diligent about changing your period hygiene products regularly.

Use Proof leakproof panties to smell (and feel) fresh all day long

Proof leakproof panties are a great way to manage your period flow and prevent odors. Our panties can easily absorb more liquid than regular underwear, preventing embarrassing leaks and absorbing excess sweat before bacteria can grow. They also feature odor-reducing technology to help keep you feeling dry, fresh, and odor-free all day long. Make managing your period a breeze—shop Proof leakproof panties here!

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