Clean and hygienic through the days – and the smells? Sometimes it just happens: You’re standing next to a woman on the bus, and you know right away that she’s having her period. Or you notice it at the university with the student sitting next to you, in the cafe with the waitress or the clerk in the office. Sometimes you can just smell when a woman is bleeding. And this is not the slightly metallic, somewhat tart smell of fresh blood. Menstruation smells different, sweet and heavy, a bit like fashion. Why is that? Where does the smell come from, and what can you do about it??
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Hygiene products smell – but so does blood
You open the package of pads and first have to turn your head away and take a deep breath: a pervasive chemical smell of plastic hits you. Most sanitary pads advertised as having an extra-dry feel and a good scent are themselves very noticeably smelly. Because they are not made of cellulose, cotton or paper, but contain so-called superabsorbents. These are polymers that can bind liquids particularly well and, above all, can bind a lot of them. Polymers are plastic compounds. But plastics not only hold moisture, they also trap heat. So in the pants on the particularly sensitive days there is a climate in which microorganisms thrive excellently.
Microorganisms decompose organic material – and that’s what menstruation is all about. The sweet, heavy smells of light mustiness and rotten meat that flow from modern hygiene products are due to these microorganisms.
Avoid odors and stay healthy: change frequently!
Even if the manufacturers of hygiene products rave about a whole night without going to the toilet and advertise particularly absorbent products: It is better to ensure a fresh insert after four to six hours at the latest. Because in this period the microorganisms have already multiplied to the point that you can get skin problems. Many women have found that they often suffer from fungal infections, notice rashes and itching after using sanitary products. This is not because manufacturers would sell products contaminated with germs. The organisms responsible for infections and skin irritations live on our skin and in our mucous membranes. They only become a problem when they can multiply uncontrollably – for example in the warm and humid climate of a pad that is well sealed with synthetic material.
When does menstruation actually become a problem?
The choice of different products for menstrual hygiene is large nowadays. Whereas a few decades ago sanitary pads made of cloth were normal and every woman knew her body and its vapors quite well, today the smell of menstrual blood causes frowns. Because with the invention of the tampon, bleeding was shifted inwards. If the blood is already bound in the body and packed in absorbent cotton, it naturally does not smell. The tampon is very practical, because with the small piece of cotton and cellulose the special days more or less disappear. There are no more cloth pads, which firstly require a large handbag and secondly the effort of washing, and there is also no more odor.
What is actually quite practical for women, also pathologizes menstruation to a certain degree. Of course, modern hygiene products such as tampons, menstrual cups and natural sponges are a great thing. They allow you to go to work, go out, exercise, and date normally, even on those special days. They allow you to have a more or less normal daily routine. But they take away the feeling for the natural processes in your body. It is perfectly normal for blood to smell. For example, no one would expect an injured person’s wound and bandage to smell like roses … Nevertheless, the odors associated with menstruation are unpleasant to most women.
So are sanitary pads in fact the step to freedom?
Tampons place a taboo on periods that harms women. But what about the pads that many women still use today? The differences are really big, and they are noticeable as well as smellable. Sanitary pads made of environmentally friendly paper and cotton fibers behave roughly like cloth sanitary pads: They catch and hold the blood, but after a while they smell like blood. Most cloth sanitary napkins are very thick, but do without the impermeable layer of plastic. Thus, the climate is "down" during the days simply better, pathogens can not multiply so quickly.
In addition, such a cloth bandage at some point simply soaks through. This happens even before it has reached its maximum absorbency. First of all, gravity ensures that the fluid in the pad reaches the bottom quickly, and secondly, we tend to spend our days (and this doesn’t just mean the special days of the ladies) sitting down. So the pressure on the crotch and the garments there also ensures that the fluid passes through quickly. Cloth bandages are thus changed more often, with the six to eight hours "absolute dry feeling even on the heavy days" it is not far. And this is not what the manufacturers advertise, because it is simply unhygienic. Cloth sanitary napkins thus ensure less odors and more hygiene in two ways.
Loose clothing, plant-based textiles and light exercise
Another point makes the climate in the ladies’ pants uncomfortable lately: synthetic fibers. Sometime in the 20. In the twenty-first century, the white cotton and linen of earlier times has gone out of fashion. Modern underwear is made of shiny polyester and similar materials. These are plastics, which are conceivably bad for the climate in the step! Because in combination with tight pants (possibly also made of synthetic fibers) and a sedentary lifestyle, little air gets to the sensitive skin, and heat and moisture accumulate in the crotch simply because of the less breathable clothing. Here’s what you can do for less odor (not just during your period):
- Wear linen from plant textiles.
- Wear loose, loose clothing (not least when having period pains, this is more comfortable anyway).
- Also wear skirts that flap widely around the legs and provide ventilation.
- Do without plastic-containing inserts in the laundry.
- Live more standing and walking than sitting.
Perfumed hygiene products, on the other hand, you do not need. In fact, the fragrances in pads and panty liners are just more chemicals that irritate your skin. This also applies to all soaps, deodorants, wash lotions and other care products for the intimate area: Handwarm water is quite enough!