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Why Does My Period Smell?

And What Can I Do About It?

From the moment you start your periods, you'll become familiar with the fact that period blood smells. It's a natural scent, often a bit metallic or coppery smelling due to iron from the blood.

However, sometimes that smell becomes stronger or changes, which can be worrying and a bit embarrassing. Let's explore the world of period odours, explore some common causes, and discuss ways to manage them effectively.

What is Period Odour?

Period odour is a mild metallic or coppery smell which is due to the iron content in the blood. While it's normal for your period to have a slight smell, variations can occur based on hormonal fluctuations and changes in your body’s pH balance during your menstrual cycle.

Other factors influencing the scent include bacteria levels and personal hygiene. It's important to know that, in most cases, period odour is not detectable by anyone but yourself. However, for unusual smells which are strong or unpleasant, it could indicate other health issues that could need attention.

Why Does My Period Smell?

Period smells can vary, and understanding these can help you identify whether what you’re experiencing is normal or a sign of something that needs a doctor’s attention. Here are some reasons why your period might smell:


This common period smell is normal and arises from the iron in the menstrual blood. It’s generally not a cause for concern.


A decaying or sulphuric smell can be a sign of an old tampon left inside. It might also be due retained products of conception following miscarriage or abortion. If you notice a rotten smell, you should definitely see your Doctor.


A fishy odour could indicate bacterial vaginosis, a common but treatable imbalance in vaginal bacteria. See your GP or local sexual health clinic if you think you smell fishy or have unusual vaginal discharge as it could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection or vaginal infection.


A sweet smell may just be a result of your diet but can sometimes indicate diabetes.


Increased sweating can occur during your period due to hormonal changes and might intensify the natural odour.


Sometimes, urine can mix with menstrual flow, especially when pads are used, adding to the overall scent.

Disposable Pads

Sometimes disposable pads have a smell attached which comes from the gel / chemicals used inside them which is similar to that in disposable nappies. Try switching brands of pad or better still, try reusable pads or period pants.

"So great, I pair these with a range of cheeky pants too to assure maximum coverage and no leaks to make the transition from disposables, I am confident going out for the day and not leaking. I love that they are buy 5 get one free, love the range of designs, and they don't cause that horrid smell like disposables do, not sweaty and no rashes/itching like disposables. I actually look forward to my periods now " Bamboo Night Pads


A very strong, foul odour could indicate necrotic (dead) tissue, especially after procedures like a cone biopsy. Definitely see your GP if you suspect this.

Tips for Managing Period Odour

While you can’t completely eliminate the natural scent of your period, here are some top tips for managing period odour:

Practice Good Hygiene

Regular washing can help reduce odours, particularly during your period. Using reusable intimate wipes and warm water is one way to stay feeling fresh and smelling clean without creating waste from disposable wipes, or upsetting the PH of your genital area.

Change Your Products Regularly

Whether it’s pads and tampons, period pants or menstrual cups, changing them frequently prevents vaginal odour buildup.

Wear Period Pants

These can offer a more secure and odour-controlling alternative to traditional menstrual products.

Avoid Douching

Douching can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina, leading to potential infections and increased odour.

Recommended Products For Period Odour

When to See a Doctor

If the smell of your period is strong enough to concern you or if it changes drastically, it's wise to consult with a healthcare provider.

Additionally, if you notice symptoms like unusual discharge (especially green or yellow), itching, burning, or an increase in the amount of bleeding, these could be signs of infection or other conditions that require medical attention.


Understanding what period odour is usual for you can help you feel more in control of your menstrual health. Remember, slight smells are normal, but if you’re ever in doubt about what you’re experiencing, it’s best to reach out to your GP.

We hope you've found this helpful, but if you've got any further questions at all about smelly periods or any of our products, please do contact us. The team all use the products themselves and love to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! We've also got some further reading that you may be interested in: 




About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable incontinence pants. Both she and the rest of the leadership team are now navigating menopause, with all the joys it brings!