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Learn About Period Odor From Pediatrician Dr. Trish Hutchison

Learn About Period Odor From Pediatrician Dr. Trish Hutchison

March 19, 2024

Now, some folks worry if their period has a distinctive aroma. But let’s dissect this, shall we?

Think about it – when you cut yourself, is there an odor? Hopefully not! Period blood is just like any other bodily blood, with a bit of extra pizzazz. It’s not dirty, it’s not rejected body fluids, and it’s not the body’s way of flushing out toxins. But it’s not the same as the blood when you cut your finger, either. 

Why Does My Period Smell?

You see, period blood has some extra goodies mixed in – It has tissues from the uterine lining, or endometrium which is like a cozy nest for a baby if an egg gets fertilized. But if there is no baby on the way, your body gets rid of this lining plus some blood and that’s your period! 

As your period flows through the cervix and vagina, it picks up a dash of mucus and secretions and even a sprinkle of normal healthy bacteria. It’s like a biological smoothie, if you will.

Now we know that everybody’s period has its own unique scent – it’s like a signature perfume but a bit more… earthy or minerally. The scent happens when the blood, tissues, mucous, and normal bacteria mix up on the way out of the vagina.

Let’s address the elephant in the room – those gym locker-esque odors? Yeah, that’s not the vibe we’re going for. These are most likely caused by not having great hygiene practices during your period.

How to Prevent Period Odor

Changing period products regularly is crucial for preventing period odors. When you let your pad or tampon sit around for too long, it becomes a breeding ground for a bacterial fiesta that can start to smell funky. So, what’s the solution? Change them more often than you change your mind about what to binge-watch on Netflix! Every 4 to 6 hours is the magic number. 

Taking showers every day, and making sure to use soap, can also keep period smells at bay. The skin around your private parts has sweat glands and healthy bacteria. These glands make a thick liquid that bacteria love to eat, and when they do, they make a stinky smell (kind of like a bacterial fart). When you add period blood to the mix, it can get pretty smelly.

Period Hygiene Hack 

Here’s a Girlology hygiene hack: Soap where there’s hair and just water in there! That’s right, lather up those outer regions where hair grows, making sure to hit all the nooks and crannies. Then, let water wash away period blood inside the lips or labia. 

Please don’t think about using deodorizing products (including essential oils) that come in wipes or sprays, and no scented period products! These can irritate or cause an allergic reaction to the sensitive vulvar skin. And you shouldn’t douche either. Your lady bits are not in need of a deep clean plus the process can get rid of healthy vaginal bacteria. Your vulva is not a botanical garden! It shouldn’t smell like a field of daisies or a bouquet of roses. 

So, that’s the deal: Good hygiene habits can help keep those normal period smells in check. It’s best to take a bath or shower every day, switch out your period products every 4 to 6 hours, and avoid using sweet-smelling products. Keep it simple, keep it natural, and keep those delicate ecosystems thriving.

  • Dr. Trish Hutchison

    Trish Hutchison, MD, FAAP is pediatrician, nationally recognized health educator, and author. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Period Education Project (PEP), a national non-profit focused on closing knowledge gaps and reducing stigma related to menstrual health by equipping medical students with the knowledge and confidence to deliver menstrual health workshops to youth of all genders in community settings. Dr. Trish is also Co-Founder of Girlology, a leading wellness app supporting girls and caregivers with personalized on demand health resources that guide them through puberty and adolescence with confidence. She has authored books for youth on puberty and sexual development. Her most recent publication is a puberty book for EVERY body, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also a national spokesperson for the AAP. Dr. Trish has over 30 years of clinical practice and currently works in College Health at The College of Charleston. This keeps her up to date on issues that kids face daily, including her own two young adult daughters.

Stay in the flow — we’ll send you period positivity + timely updates on the menstrual movement.

claire coder,founder + ceo

claire coder,
founder + ceo

Hi! I’m Claire. I founded Aunt Flow after getting my period in public without the supplies needed.

At 18 years old, I dedicated my life to developing a solution to ensure businesses and schools could sustainably provide quality period products, for free, in bathrooms. Our products are made with organic cotton and we are constantly working to reduce our environmental impact! Since 2021, we've donated over 5 MILLION period products to menstruators in need. I call this people helping people. PERIOD.®

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