It's time to get real: period blood smells. And not just like ordinary blood (because, well, it isn't).
And it turns out that there is a scientific explanation as to why it has that smell.
In an interview with Refinery 29, Taraneh Shirazian, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health in NYC *takes a breath* - has revealed the answer.
Firstly, period blood isn't just blood.
Period blood is actually filled with bacteria, vaginal mucus, and tissue. The longer the blood is in your uterus, the stronger the smell can be. And, of course, the longer you leave a pad/tampon in, the more pungent the smell can be.
WATCH OUT FOR... a fishy smell...
Because that isn't normal.
"When you're bleeding, you retain moisture in the vagina," says Dr. Shirazian. This could lead to "secondary vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, (BV) which has a strong, fishy odor."
As Womenshealth.gov states, it's probably not an STI. HOWEVER, it can raise the risk of an STI.
The products you use
Washing your lady parts is very important, but make sure you only use vaginal products, or a mild, scent-free soap/just warm water and you will be fine.
You may have also heard that 'douching' will help with vaginal odours. Well, unfortunately that isn't true, and all that it can lead to are dangerous infections (like BV) which has a high rate of pelvic inflammatory disease.
The most important thing to remember is that getting your period is completely normal. Sometimes it may smell a little different, but unless you notice something irregular (like irritation) your vagina is just being a normal, working vagina!
Make sure to see your doctor if any other symptoms arise.