The Real Reason Your Period Blood Smells Bad (Yes, We Notice Too)

It is a very distinct aroma.

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Have you ever wondered (asked Andy Rooney, apparently) why your period blood smells? 

I'm not talking about just in general. Obviously, your period is coming from your body, it is going to have an aroma. 

But why does the period blood pouring out of your vagina smell so very different than the blood from a skinned knee or even a bloody nose? 

I used to live in terror of the way my period blood smelled. 


Not because it smelled any different than anyone else's (Pause here to acknowledge that it definitely sounds like I go around huffing other people's menses and/or vaginas, which is very much not the case) but because to me it was such a strong, heady smell.

Is it any wonder that I still kind of avoid hiking when I'm on the rag for fear of being consumed by a bear?

My bloody vagina is keeping me from the great outdoors! 

It's bad enough to go to a friend's house on a heavy flow day and have their dog decide your crotch is where its nose needs to live. 



It's normal for your period blood to smell different, and there are actually, it turns out, a few different reasons why this is the case. 

1. Period blood is not actually blood.

Well, it's not ALL blood. Your menstruation is made up of bacteria, mucus and tissue. The odor you smell when you're bleeding can be different depending on just how long that blood has been taking up residence in your uterus. Fun times. 

2. There is a "normal" bad period smell, but it shouldn't smell like fish down there.

When you're having your period your vagina goes into moisture overdrive. Thanks, vagina, because things weren't enough of a hot wet mess down there anyway. If you detect a fishy odor during your period it could be that the moisture rich environment has provided a cozy home for vaginosis. You'll want to treat that with antibiotics since vaginosis increases the risk of transmitting sexual infections.


Also you will want to get it because your vagina smells like three day old sun dried cod, and no one wants that. 

3. Your body is removing waste during your period. That stinks. 

If your period blood smells, that's because your vagina is getting rid of something it no longer needs. Don't try to mask the process with scented body washes or (heaven forbid) douching. If your vagina is smart enough and strong enough to climax for pleasure only and to help usher out new life into the world, it can sort out its own aromas. Don't fuck with your naturally occurring PH levels. 

Don't be ashamed of the way your period blood smells. 


I'm not going to sling a load of "EMBRACE YOUR WOMANITY" at you, but I will say that cowering in shame over this totally natural process is a byproduct of the patriarchy for sure, and we all know what I think about the patriarchy: