There is no need to be embarrassed by naturally-occurring body odors. As moms, you know that there are more revealing moments in life that go beyond the occasional odor. Even though you know that normal menstruation comes with an odor, realize that the odor is more noticeable to you than it is to other people around you. If you are self-conscious about it, first rule out any medical reason for an abnormally strong odor by visiting a doctor. Then take other simple precautions to keep the area clean and to make yourself as comfortable as possible during your period.
Change your tampon or menstrual pad frequently when you have your period. Use tampons during heavy flow times, and change them as often as you need to, which could be every half hour or every three hours. Always make sure the tampon is inserted properly, and the string is left out, to minimize the chance of losing the tampon. After childbirth, you may find that your flow is heavier than it was before and you may need a larger tampon than you did before you gave birth.
Use a sanitary pad in addition to a tampon, to help minimize odors without adding powder and fragrances. The sanitary pad also provides additional protection, especially during heavy flow times. Some women with light flows find that they have less odor when they avoid using tampons. Experiment to see if the odor changes when you use one or the other, or with both.
Wear all-cotton underwear and other breathable fabrics. During your period, avoid wearing tight fabrics including nylons, tights and pantyhose. Layers of clothing, including a pair of underwear plus snug nylons, can trap bacteria.
Reconsider the use of birth control pills which change the frequency of your menstrual period to less than once per month. If you use one of these pills, when your period does come, it may have a stronger odor than if you had your period at its natural monthly rate.
Keep the vaginal area clean during menstruation, with warm water and a cloth between daily showers. Use unscented soap, or unscented wipes during your period. Be sure to wipe from front to back as well, because when you use a tampon you do not want to get anything on the tampon that does not go there.
Add yogurt with lactobacilli into your daily diet. This type of good bacteria found in some yogurt (check the label) is the same good bacteria that is found naturally in the vagina. Eating yogurt is a natural way to maintain a good bacteria balance, even during menstruation.
Visit your gynecologist if the odor is strong and you have other symptoms, including itching. If there is irritation during menstruation or at another time, the Mayo Clinic (see Resources) recommends making an appointment to rule out bacterial or yeast infections.
- Never douche during your period, and limit douching at all other times.
- Avoid overly-scented soaps which can actually do more harm than good.