Period stigma is real and has, for decades, been (wrongly) convincing women they are “unclean” during their time of the month.
The fear of having a smelly situation down there is what helps sell products like vaginal douches and scented tampons and pads.
All that marketing might have you wondering if period stank is a real problem that actually needs to be fixed, but the experts say you shouldn’t fall for it.
Here’s the thing: Scented period products and douches do nothing but irritate your vagina. Bottom line: Your vagina cleans itself. All douching does is change your natural pH level, most likely leading to infections. The same problems can arise when you use scented pads or tampons, too.
“I don’t recommend scented pads or tampons,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. and ob-gyn. “Any foreign substance can be an allergen to the most sensitive tissue in the body.” That’s right, allergen. In other words, these products could give you a bad reaction and lead to one itchy vagina, and as every woman knows, there is nothing worse.
Beyond the itch, those scented chemicals can lead to inflammation and rashes, says Minkin. Um, no thanks. And if one of those scents reacts badly with your natural pH, you could be on the road to bacterial vaginosis and other infections, although, Minkin says allergic reactions are more common. In order to keep everything happy and healthy, she recommends sticking to the unscented products.
As with any allergy, you won’t know until you experience it first hand. But why risk it? Your vagina is not meant to smell like a lavender garden, so you’re better off letting her live.