Are scented tampons really bad? I read that you shouldn’t use them, but period blood smells sooo bad, I feel like everyone notices. How can I make it smell better without them?
Believe it or not, period blood on its own actually doesn’t have an odor. It’s just blood and tissue that sheds from the uterus, and those things don’t smell. Similar to sweat, menstrual blood starts to smell when it mixes with your body, and bacteria and odor starts to develop. But, that little fact isn’t super helpful here – the fact is, even if it doesn’t technically have a smell, it does smell sometimes. A lot of people describe it as a fishy scent, which isn’t particularly pleasant.
So, it seems that the most obvious solution would be to wear scented tampons – after all, why else would they exist? This would be the most simple answer, but unfortunately, it’s not ideal. Using anything near or in your vaginal area that has a scent is not a great idea. Scents can mess with your vaginal pH, which can cause irritation or even an infection. Plus, even if you wanted to ignore that and use them, it honestly wouldn’t help very much – in fact, it might just make the odor more noticeable.
I spoke with Laura Goodman, the Senior Scientist for Tampax and Always, to get her expert opinion on how to deal with the smell. Laura said, “First of all, make sure you are changing your tampon every four to six hours or sooner if you feel your tampon is full.” This is the first thing you want to focus on. Leaving a tampon or pad full of period blood for hours is definitely going to make the scent linger longer. Don’t change them constantly, but change them every time they start to get full.
Laura’s other tip is just as helpful. She says, “If you find yourself experiencing odor, you might want to try using an Always Liner in combination with your tampon for optimum freshness.” Panty liners are comfortable to wear because they’re so thin, and they can give an extra layer of protection – along with another barrier between the world and your period blood. The other important thing? Stay clean. Laura says, “Always Feminine Wipes are also great for quick cleansing during your period, after long activity or any time you just want to feel fresh.” Just opt for wipes that are unscented.
Another way to stay fresh is to shower every day when you have your period – it washes away bacteria and sweat that can contribute to the odor. If you’re really nervous about it, wear pants instead of dresses. But overall, don’t stress over it! It’s probably more noticeable to you than anyone else.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org