Health & Wellness

Q&A: When I'm on my period, sometimes my area will get itchy and it will have a noticeable smell. What should I do?

Nothing like having your period and being itchy down there too – what a combo! Sometimes you can get itchy down there if you are using a pad in part because of the moisture, but sometimes if you are itching and using a pad it means you are reacting to the pad itself. Some women’s skin is so sensitive that even a plain, unscented pad is enough to make them itchy and red down there whenever they use them. Funky smells down there during your period usually come from not changing your pad often enough. Period blood doesn’t have a smell itself but the normal bacteria we all have in our vaginas and skin down there can grow quickly in blood and cause a bit of a stink. Changing your pad frequently will solve that problem, but if you remain itchy despite changing frequently, try a tampon instead. If you are still itchy or there’s an odor even after using a tampon, it’s time to see your health care provider.
There are several possible reasons for itching and odor. Changing your pads or tampons regularly and cleaning your vulva (the external area) with a mild soap and water usually manages any odor. If you're doing that and still noticing an unusual odor it might be an indication of another issue. Things that can cause itching range from irritants (such as from a new laundry soap) to medical issues like Bacterial Vaginosis. The only way to be sure is to go see your healthcare professional.
First of all, don't fret. Some of us smell a little bit different when we're on our periods (including me!), but it's not necessarily a bad smell. In terms of what you should do, I say do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. For myself, I just make sure to wash the area with warm, soapy water regularly. Sometimes I'll also spray an extra spritz of perfume down below (OVER my clothes!) just so I feel like I smell good. No worries, though. The change in your smell is probably only noticeable to you.