Jul 13, 2022

Why Is My Period Blood Smelly?

Have you ever sat on the toilet to change your pad and noticed that your period blood has an unusual smell? Us too. Our sense of smell helps us perceive the world around us, whether it’s to enjoying the scent of our favourite flower or protecting ourselves from milk that has gone bad. But what does the smell of our period blood mean? And can anyone else smell it too? Thankfully, the different smells of period blood are typically not strong enough to be noticeable to others, but they can tell us a story about our general vaginal health. Read on for our period sensory edition!

What causes period blood to have a smell?

There are a few reasons why your period blood may have a scent to it, it can range from a sweet to a foul smell. First up, periods are made up of secretions, mucus, tissue and blood - and blood tends to have a metallic-y kind of smell. The vagina plays a part too. It’s normal for the vagina’s pH level and the natural bacteria that are present, to influence your period blood’s smell. The heaviness of your flow, how often you change your period product, body odour and even stress, can also contribute to a smellier than usual period!

What are the most common period blood smells, and what do they mean?

With so many different factors that can lead to a whole range of period blood smells, let’s dive into some of the types you may notice and what they can mean:

  • Metallic period blood smell:
    Lowest on the list of cause-for-concern, metallic smelling period blood is normally due to the presence of blood, specifically, the iron in the blood. It should disappear shortly after your period ends.
  • Sweet smelling period blood:
    A sweet smelling period isn’t actually a scent from the blood itself. It is more than likely due to the presence of bacteria in the vagina and the pH level at the time. Not usually a cause for concern!
  • Body odour period scent:
    If your period has a body odour type of smell, a bit like your underarms after a serious sweat session, this is because we do have sweat glands down south (known as, apocrine sweat glands). But rather than through exercise, these glands are actually activated by stress or anxiety - so it’s a good idea to get in some R&R!
  • Fishy period smell:
    A fishy period smell means that there’s most likely something amiss downstairs. It can be indicative of an infection, like bacterial vaginosis (aka BV)  or trichomoniasis (an STI). If you notice a fishy period smell it’s best to book in with your GP for an assessment!
  • Rotten smelling period:
    If you notice especially smelly period blood reminding you of a rotten scent, this could indicate a vaginal issue. A foul smell of period blood is often because of a foreign body, such as a tampon, that’s been left too long in the vagina. The best course of action here is to remove the tampon (if there is one) and make sure to contact your GP if the rotten period blood smell persists.

What’s the best way to avoid smelly periods?

Good hygiene is always important, especially during that time of the month whether you are experiencing a smelly period or not! Taking daily showers, with gentle, unscented, vagina-friendly products, is non-negotiable when it comes to staying fresh. Avoid douching (since this can upset your pH balance) and be vigilant with changing your period products regularly. Stick to wearing breathable, loose-fitting materials, to avoid trapping any unwanted odour.

When should you see your GP?

If you’re still wondering ‘why does period blood smell bad’, you absolutely shouldn’t hesitate to visit your GP to clear things up! Stay in tune with your body and learn what’s normal for you. If you notice symptoms such as new or unusual period smells, changes in the colour of your vaginal discharge, a fever during your period, severe pelvic or stomach pain, or heavier bleeding than usual, seek a consult from your GP.

Remember, it’s totally normal for you to notice that your period has a slight scent to it, but it’s not usually something that anyone else can detect! As great as it would be for our period to smell like roses, the reality is that our bodies emit all kinds of odours.

Love, Libra x
Essity makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.


Are you up to date with your health checks?

Are you up to date with your health checks?

Explore the essential health checks you should be aware of: breast examination, cervical screening, skin assessment, and sexual health.
What You Need to Know About Menstrual Cycle Hormones

What You Need to Know About Menstrual Cycle Hormones

Learn all about menstrual cycle hormones: their functions, effects, and importance.
Why Do My Periods Sync with My Friends?

Why Do My Periods Sync with My Friends?

Every wondered about period syncing? We've got the details
Why am I getting a burning feeling on my period?

Why am I getting a burning feeling on my period?

Discover common causes and treatments for burning sensation during your period.