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Can We Talk About Menstrual Odor?

J.B.

Menstruation is the body’s process of discarding blood and tissue from the uterine lining after an egg released during ovulation is not fertilized.  The menstrual discharge, a combination of blood, the unfertilized egg, and uterine lining tissue, often has a slight odor.  This odor may be metallic, due to the presence of iron and blood.

Vaginal secretions at times other than menstruation may also have a slight odor.  This is due to the presence of good bacteria such as lactobacillus, an important organism that plays a role in protecting against urogenital infection. 

If you notice a slight odor (usually a “musky” or “earthy” smell), it’s probably not a cause for concern and the chances are that you’re the only one who notices it.  But if you’d rather it wasn’t there, there are a few things you can do to cut down on it.

Hygiene. Wash the outside of the vaginal area with mild unscented soap to remove any dead skin, dirt, or sweat.  Scented soaps or body washes are not generally recommended for “down there” because the chemicals in them could upset the natural pH balance.  Other things to avoid are deodorizing products and douches because, according to Dr. Christine Greves, an OB/GYN at Orlando Health, “These throw off the natural bacteria in your vagina and cause infection.”

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Cotton Undies. Polyester, satin, or silk underwear can be very pretty, but these fibers don’t breathe.  Underwear of 100% cotton is breathable and does an outstanding job of wicking away fluids from the area.  Keeping the area dry makes it harder for bacteria to build up and produce a smell.

Showers. Many of us shower daily.  Personally, I love my long, hot morning showers.  There’s just something about them that’s soothing.  It’s also a good idea to take an extra shower if you’ve been sweating.  Trapped sweat can increase vaginal odor. 

Pads and Tampons. Pads and tampons should be changed frequently, sometimes as often as every few hours, especially during heavy-flow days.  Quite apart from controlling odor, there are also health reasons why this is a good idea.  Leaving damp products in place for an extended period could make you more susceptible to infection (those pesky bugs just love a warm, moist environment).

Loose Clothing. Tight clothes such as some kinds of shapewear and spray-on jeans might look great, but they can cause vaginal odor to worsen.  Not only do they prevent the vaginal area from “breathing”, but they can also spread little bits of fecal matter to the vagina, creating infection and odor.

A slight odor is natural and normal and probably isn’t cause for concern but there may be times when you should probably consult a doctor. 

If the odor his a foul, fishy smell, that could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis, especially if the strong odor is accompanied by pain or itching in the vagina.

If the odor smells like a rotting organism, check for a forgotten tampon.  According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, that’s not an uncommon occurrence.  She says she’s removed countless tampons from patients, and that it isn’t anything to be embarrassed about.
 

Another way to help minimize menstrual odor is to use NannoPads.  NannoPads are made with 100% certified organic cotton so not only are they super absorbent, but they also help to trap menstrual odor naturally without fragrance.  Click here to order yours.

 

 

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