Why does my period smell? That is a question many women have asked at one time or another during their lifetime. A woman’s menstrual period is a natural occurrence that is unpleasant for most women and the odor that accompanies it only makes matters worse. Even if you are very meticulous about your hygiene, it can be quite embarrassing if you leave a foul odor when you exit the room. As careful as you may be in keeping the evidence of your period hidden, sometimes you need a little extra help keeping the smell under control as well.

My Period Smells, Is It Normal?

Yes, if it isn't serious and doesn't change abruptly.

Your vaginal odor changes all the time, varying throughout your cycle and naturally becoming more pungent during your period. Sometimes it is just a little stronger, but at other times your period blood smells like rotten meat. Rest assured, usually you are the only one who notices it.

However, if you notice a sharp change in the smell of your menstrual odor, it is best to contact your physician. This is especially important if the smell is associated with irritation and pain lasting for several days. These can be symptoms of a more serious condition.

Why Does My Period Smell?

Having some type of odor with your menstrual cycle is normal. Typically it is very mild and you are the only one who notices it. But when it is strong enough for you to ask, “Why does my period smell?” it may be time to examine its cause.

Vagina pH

Your body maintains a delicate balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria normally found in your vagina. The acidic pH in your vagina keeps the “bad bacteria” from taking over, but during your menstrual flow the pH changes and is less acidic. When this happens, there is a spike in bacterial growth and you can end up with rotten smelling period blood.


Menstrual Products

Menstrual pads are a huge culprit in causing bad odors during periods because they block air from reaching the genitals. In addition, they keep menstrual blood from drying. The combination of these things can cause a strong odor that is hard to cover up.

Tampons prevent odors when inserted, but at the same time make for the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Because this affects the pH balance of the vagina, once it is taken out a strong odor can emerge as well.


Forgotten Tampon

The dreaded forgotten tampon – a nightmare for any woman. If you suddenly notice a strong odor coming from your vagina after your period has ended, you may have forgotten to remove a tampon. After a while, the abandoned tampon will omit a very strong, foul smelling odor. You can check yourself by inserting your fingers into your vagina to see if you can feel anything. If you do, try and remove it. If you can’t remove the tampon yourself or are still unsure if anything is even still in there, see your doctor who can remove it for you.


Other Causes

Why does my period smell? Other reasons can include:

  • Trichomonas infection is a common cause of foul odors during menstruation. It is a sexually-transmitted infection that causes an abnormal vaginal discharge, as well as itching and burning with urination.

  • Yeast infections occur when the pH level is off balance in the vagina, thus causing a thick discharge and a bad odor. Women taking antibiotics or contraceptive pills are more susceptible to this type of infection.

  • Cervix infections can cause strong odors during menstrual periods. Inflammation and an abnormal discharge usually accompany the smell.

What to Do If My Period Smells?

Good personal hygiene goes a long way in preventing menstrual odor. Daily bathing and trimming of pubic hairs are also helpful.

Try Using Chemical-Free Menstrual Products

Your menstrual flow does not normally have a bad odor. However, when combined with bacteria, a foul smell can develop. Usually, chemical-free menstrual products reduce odors and help keep bacteria at bay. Cloth pads allow your vagina area to remain drier and do not contain chemicals. Also, menstrual cups differ from tampons as they allow for vaginal self-cleaning while not exposing your menstrual flow to air.


Don’t Use Wet Wipes

Don’t use wet wipes, also known as baby wipes. Since they contain chemicals, they can mess with your vaginal pH. Also, they are often antibacterial so they can kill good bacteria as well as the bad. The combination of effects when using the wipes can cause strong odors. Instead, replace wipes with dampened toilet paper.


Keep an Extra Pair of Panties with You

Menstrual products need to be changed every few hours, but we often get busy and forget. Pads, menstrual cups and tampons can leak. If that happens, change into a pair of clean panties as soon as you can. This will help eliminate the odor that has soaked into your soiled underwear.


Take Daily Showers

Take a shower every day, especially during your menstrual period. There is no need to use soap products around your genital area. They only mess with your pH balance. Water is good enough as your vagina is self-cleaning. Also, when you menstruate, your body releases more oil and sweat so it helps to keep your whole body clean and keep odors in check.


Extra Home Remedies

There are many home remedies that can help control odors associated with menstruation. They include:

  • Eat more garlic, which has anti-fungal properties.

  • Consume yogurt, which has good bacteria that helps keep your acidic pH levels in the vagina balanced.

  • Eat a good, healthy diet.

  • Drink water that has steeped overnight with fenugreek seeds.

  • Use a rice wash to flush your genital area and rinse away odors.

When to See a Doctor

Sometimes a strong odor during menstruation means there is something else going on with your body. If the strong smell continued after your period ends and it is particularly foul, contact your doctor. If the odor is accompanied by itching, watering or clumpy discharge or smells fishy, make an appointment with your physician right away as it may be a sign of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.


Please Log In or add your name and email to post the comment.

  • Tracy HullJan.11 20:53
    When I'm on my period why does it smell like rotten meal.
  • MollyDec.1 10:55
    I didn't get my period for over a year. Ever since I've been getting it regularly again, I don't have an issue with odor during it... At least not where it causes a noticeable problem... However, the week (sometimes two weeks) after it, I have a super strong odor that persists no matter what I do. Anybody have/ have had this same issue and know the cause or at least a remedy? I asked my OB/GYN at my PAP last month but she was less than helpful... Just told me it's normal and not to be concerned about it. But while it's great to hear there's nothing "WRONG" with me.. It's still unpleasant and affects my life and confidence. HELP!!
  • svetlana1234Nov.19 00:18
    If everything else that could cause vaginal discharge – trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infection – has been ruled out, cytolytic vaginosis should be evaluated and investigated. Cytolytic vaginosis is also called lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome or Doderlein’s cytolysis, and is characterised by an overgrowth of Lactobacilli. This overgrowth actually damages the vaginal cells and results in the cell wall rupturing and the cell dying. Cyto means cell, and lytic means death – cytolytic vaginosis is therefore a condition involving the disintegration of the vaginal cell wall.
  • DesireeSep.27 07:33
    I'm concerned, I have a strange odor coming from down there, but I constantly clean myself especially on my period, so I know I'm not unclean. This is the first time this has happened, I'm 19 but have been experiencing a period since my early teen years. I recently started birth control pills, (Sprintec). I'm not sure if that could have an unusual effect on my body. I've taken Sprintec before a few years ago when I was 16. I stopped taking it because the nausea was overwhelming for me. (I was young, I didn't realize my body was just getting used to the hormones.) Anyway, I'm getting off track. The odor smelled metallic at first and now has a sort of rotten smell. I'm wondering if I should contact my OBGYN. Please respond because if I don't have to go to the doctor I won't.
  • KathySep.24 05:51
    Im more confused than ever. I wear pads on my heaviest days so "IT" can flow and a tampon when it's lighter. It smells like a corpse was inserted 2 days before it started, but then vanished. It's unbearable. I know what a forgotten tampon smells like. I have done it, but I'm 49, so not for years. Smells almost the same. I'm healthy...but admit, havent been to a DR. in 22 yrs. Only smells during menstruating
  • annaSep.23 10:28
    So is anything wrong when it has no smell?
  • BellaAug.24 05:06
    The smell does not go away. I have lost a lot of under wear because it stinks and it leaks. Is there something wrong?
  • ChrisJul.6 02:35
    I just turned 55 a little over a month ago, so I am at the point of menopausal (pre meno) issues. I have been dealing with now irregular periods, after 40 years of "periods you could set your watch to - regular"...and now this, and a few months ago, after 6 months of no periods, I got a whopper with that familiar rotten meat smell. OMG was so strong. strong enough that I could smell it in the bathroom at home. Maybe not so strong that other people would notice if I walked by them, but strong at the toilet---pants down at your knees. Then I got another period a month later and nothing but a typical light blood smell. It is weird huh? Our bodies are so complicated. Now, no periods again. Probably been 6 weeks since I had one. I actually want one, I feel the "release" both physically and emotionally, when I get a period. I do not use commercial douches, but i will rinse with the shower massage shower head, if necessary. I do eat soy yogurt and I have probiotics that I do take occasionally via capsule. The only trouble with yogurts (dairy or non dairy) is they contain sugars, and yeast loves sugar! I typically have no odor between periods, but on occasion we all get a bit of an imbalance. I doubt anyone smells like roses down there!
  • Ms boomswatJun.7 23:57
    I totally agree with Amanda
  • JazlynnJun.7 23:56
    Thanks Amanda for those great tips!
View All Comments /Add Comment