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Why Does My Period Smell and What To Do About It?

Why Does My Period Smell and What To Do About It?

by Ashley Cummings

Everything is about sustainability these days. From reusable bamboo straws, biodegradable doggy doo-doo bags, clothes made from recycled materials, to beer made from dairy waste (seriously).

Brands that make period products are no exception when it comes to jumping on the sustainability movement. Top period management brands now make reusable, washable, leakproof period underwear. Those who use them want to love them.

While opting for period panties is a reliable way to reduce paper waste, it doesn’t do much when it comes to controlling period odor. Those panties can get stinky.

If you love the idea of wearing sustainable period panties, but don’t want to risk an increase in odor, this article is for you.

Here is a look into why period underwear smells and what you can do to better manage odor during and after your menstrual cycle.

Why do periods smell so stinky?

It’s helpful to know that some odor is typical during a healthy period. Blood and uterine lining tissue do have a distinct smell. But, bacteria is what’s to blame when it comes to fierce panty stinkiness, not the vagina. Thus, what you’re smelling is not a “vaginal odor.”

Two things are at play when it comes to period odor and neither of them is a reflection of the natural state of the vagina. First, your body is shedding blood, and blood has a pH of about 7, more basic than our skin’s acid mantle (pH of 4.5). Next, bacteria that are commonly found in the GI tract feast on the protein and fats in menstrual blood. When blood and bacteria meet, odors occur, and you may notice a foul, fishy, or sweaty gym bag smell.

Also, smells may fluctuate month-to-month, depending on your vaginal health, foods you eat, hygiene practices, sexual habits, and the period products you use.

Does period underwear make periods more stinky?

Yes! Period underwear absolutely does make periods more stinky.

To illustrate why period panties make periods more odorous, think about what happens when you leave a tampon in too long. The tampon gets saturated with blood, becomes a target of bacteria, and results in increased period odor.

Pro tip: Change your tampon, rinse off off externally with water and a mild, natural soap like Lume Natural Soap for Face & Body. Then, apply a whole-body deodorant like Lume Deodorant for Underarms & Private Parts, and this will greatly help you manage the odors you notice.

It’s the same idea with period panties. Period panties collect the blood and bacteria but leave them cooking in one place with no way to escape. When the blood stays in your panties and mixes with bacteria, those panties just get stinkier and stinkier.

Odor won’t go away until you change your period panties, shower, and apply a whole-body deodorant.

What to do about period and panty odor?

The smells you are experiencing can be an indicator of when you should see a doctor vs. when you should invest in some odor-controlling natural products. Here’s a closer look.

Sweaty Gym, Oniony, or Salty Smell

Have you ever experienced these unique odors during or after your period? If so, you’re not alone.

While these smells are among the most common odors we experience as women, they are also highly manageable with good hygiene and the right products during your menstrual cycle.

Here are some ideas on how you can keep these smells at bay during that time of the month:

  • Invest in period panties with antibacterial properties
  • Change your period panties every few hours
  • Wash your period panties thoroughly and regularly
  • Rinse off your vulva daily with water and a hypoallergenic soap
  • Avoid douches as they eliminate healthy vaginal bacteria
  • Use a natural, whole-body deodorant like Lume

Key Takeaway: With improved hygiene during your period, and with the help of natural, whole-body deodorant, you can manage odors more efficiently.

Fishy Smell

If you notice a slight fishy odor after your period, step one is to try an external solution like Lume Deodorant. If Lume eliminates the fishy smell after a day or 2 of use, you are good to go. If odor persists, despite using Lume externally, then that suggests you may have a vaginal condition like bacterial vaginosis (BV). In this case, we recommend you see your doctor to get that checked out and ruled out or treated if necessary.

If this fishy smell is accompanied by painful symptoms like burning, irritation, itchiness, or extra vaginal discharge (when you’re not on your period), then make an appointment to see your OB/GYN. This condition is most often treatable with antibiotics.

Key takeaway: Try Lume first to eliminate slight fishy smells. If it doesn’t work after a day or two, contact your doctor.

Rotten Odor

Another typical smell you may experience during or after your period is a mild rotten smell. This smell is a result of blood and tissues exiting the vagina combining with bacteria on the outside of our bodies. You may notice this odor if you leave a tampon in for too long, don’t change your pad often, or wear the same pair of period panties all day.

If problematic symptoms do not accompany this smell, it’s typically not a medical concern. You can reduce this smell by changing your tampon, pad, or period panties more often, and by applying Lume deodorant externally after you shower. Lume is the only deodorant you can use anywhere on your body, even your external private parts! It's a skin-safe deodorant that's also doctor-developed and dermatologist-approved, so no need to worry about whether it's safe to use on your nether regions.

Key takeaway: If you experience a strong rotten odor, first make sure you have not forgotten to change your tampon. If you are using period panties, then resolve to change them more often. Then, invest in deodorant you can use anywhere on your body.

How Lume Can Help Control Odor From Period Panties

When it comes to dealing with period odor, washing with soap and water and changing your tampon or period panties is a significant first step. But, often, a shower and new tampon or clean pair of period panties aren't enough.

To truly control the external odor, you need a natural, whole-body deodorant like Lume.

Lume is free of aluminum, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, gluten, corn, soy, talc, and baking soda, and it’s clinically tested and cruelty-free. Not to mention, one application of Lume can control odor for up to 72 hours.

Lume Deodorant Wipes are another great way to ensure you have full odor protection for your womanly parts whenever odor strikes. Keeping individually-wrapped Lume Wipes with you in your car, purse, or workout bag really offers peace of mind knowing you can quickly wipe off odor, wherever you happen to be. Lume Wipes also come in a 15-count Soft Pack you can keep around the house. These deodorant wipes are biodegradable and compostable, too, so what's not to like?

For more information about Lume, or to buy your first product, visit the Lume store today.

Ashley Cummings


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