Keeping yourself clean during your period is as important as brushing your teeth or washing your hands before you eat.
Of course, staying on top of personal hygiene during your periods is especially important. Apart from wanting to keep the genital area clean and fresh, women are slightly more vulnerable to bacterial infection during menstruation, due to the change in the vagina’s pH balance. So washing the genital area twice a day not only means being confident you smell okay, but also that you aren’t at risk of an infection.
Wash your genital area with lukewarm water. Be careful not to use perfumed shower gels, bubble baths or soaps that can have a drying effect on the delicate mucous membranes in the vagina and upset that sensitive pH balance. Stick to mild, unperfumed soap or just use water. And wash the area exactly as you would any other time – externally. Washing inside the vagina (known as ‘douching’) is a really bad idea, even on your period.
Make sure you wear fresh underwear every day and change your sanitary protection frequently to avoid menstrual odor. Whether you use sanitary pads or tampons during your period, change your protection four to five times a day, or more frequently when your menstrual flow is at its heaviest – i.e., during the first two days of your period. And use a thicker night-time sanitary pad when you go to bed, so you stay protected from leakages and keep your night clothes and bedding fresh.
During your period, it’s a good idea to avoid tight clothing or fabrics that don’t ‘breathe’, such as synthetic ones, as these can cause increased moisture and heat, meaning bacteria tend to thrive. Stick to cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes to stay fresh and dry. And stay away from vaginal deodorant or feminine spray – these products are unnecessary and can actually cause irritation.
Other tips include changing your underwear and clothes after sports, as sweaty underwear can leave you feeling and smelling pretty grim. And when you wipe after using the toilet make sure you go from front to back to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to your vagina. Finally, make sure you practice safe sex at all times. But especially if you have sex during your period, as there’s an increased chance of passing on or contracting blood-borne diseases during menstruation.
And if you’re still worried about menstrual odor, well don’t forget it’s completely normal for your vagina to have its own slight, inoffensive smell. If you keep yourself clean but still notice a strong odor, go and see your doctor as you may have an infection.
Stick to the above and you can be sure of staying fresh and feeling comfortable every day.