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Odors from sanitary napkins and pads: these are the causes - and this is how you get rid of them

Odors from sanitary napkins and pads: these are the causes - and this is how you get rid of them

Clean and hygienic through the days - and the smells? Sometimes it just happens: you stand next to a woman on the bus and you know straight away that she has her menstrual period. Or you notice it at the university with the student who is sitting next to you, in the café with the waitress or the clerk in the office. Sometimes you can just smell when a woman is bleeding. And that's not the slightly metallic, somewhat bitter smell of fresh blood. Menstruation smells different, sweet and heavy, a little bit like mold. Why is that? Where does the smell come from and what can you do about it?

A young cat smells a flower
Bad smells from pads and tampons: How to get rid of them.

Hygiene products smell - but so do blood

You open the package with sanitary towels and first have to turn your head away and take a deep breath: You are met by a penetrating chemical smell of plastic. Most sanitary towels that are advertised as having an extra dry feel and good scent smell very noticeable themselves. 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. Plastics not only hold moisture, they also store heat. On the particularly sensitive days, there is a climate in the pants in which microorganisms thrive.

Microorganisms decompose organic material - and nothing else is menstrual bleeding. The sweet, heavy smells of mild mold and rotten meat that emanate from modern hygiene products are due to these microorganisms.

Avoid odors and stay healthy: change often!

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 during this period the microorganisms have already multiplied so much that you can get skin problems. Many women have found that they often experience fungal infections, notice rashes and itching after using menstrual hygiene products. This is not because manufacturers are selling products that are contaminated with germs. The organisms responsible for infections and skin irritations live on our skin and in the mucous membranes. They only become a problem when they can multiply in an uncontrolled manner - for example in a warm, humid climate with a bandage that is well sealed with plastic.

When did menstruation actually become a problem?

Nowadays there is a large selection of different products for menstrual hygiene. While cloth pads were normal a few decades ago and every woman knew her body and its exhalations very well, the smell of menstrual blood now causes frowns. Because with the invention of the tampon, the bleeding was moved inwards. If the blood is already bound in the body and wrapped in cotton wool, of course it does not smell. The tampon is quite practical, because with the small piece of cotton and cellulose the special days more or less disappear. There are no longer any cloth sanitary towels, which firstly require a large handbag and, secondly, the effort involved in washing, and there is no longer any smell.

What is actually quite practical for women, also pathologizes the menstrual period to a certain extent. Of course, modern hygiene products such as tampons, menstrutation cups and natural sponges are great. They enable you to go to work, go out, do sports and meet up quite normally, even on special days. They allow you to have a more or less normal daily routine. In return, however, they take away your feeling for the natural processes in your body. It is perfectly normal for blood to smell. For example, nobody would expect the wound and bandage of an injured person to smell like roses ... Nevertheless, the smells that accompany menstrual bleeding are unpleasant for most women.

So are sanitary towels really the step towards freedom?

Tampons have a taboo on menstruation that is harmful to women. But what about the sanitary towels that many women still use today? There the differences are actually great, and they can be smelled as well as smelled. Sanitary towels made of environmentally friendly paper and cotton fibers behave roughly like cloth sanitary towels: They catch the blood and hold it, but after a while they smell of blood. Most sanitary napkins are very thick, but do not have an impermeable layer of plastic. As a result, the climate "downstairs" is simply better during the days, pathogens cannot multiply so quickly.

In addition, such a cloth bandage simply becomes soggy at some point. That happens even before it has been able to exhaust its maximum absorbency. Firstly, gravity ensures that the liquid in the sanitary napkin quickly descends, and secondly, we tend to spend our days (and not just the special days of women) sitting down. The pressure that is on the crotch and the items of clothing there also ensures that the liquid penetrates quickly. As a result, sanitary towels are changed more often, and the six to eight hours of "absolute dry feeling even on the hard days" are not far off. And the manufacturers don't advertise this at all, because that's simply unhygienic. Cloth sanitary napkins ensure fewer odors and more hygiene in two ways.

Loose clothing, plant-based textiles and easy exercise

Another point ensures that the climate in women's trousers has recently become uncomfortable: synthetic fibers. Sometime in the 20th century, the white cotton and linen laundry of earlier times went out of fashion. Modern lingerie is made of glossy polyester and similar materials. These are plastics that are extremely bad for the climate in the crotch! Because in combination with tight pants (possibly also made of synthetic fibers) and a sedentary lifestyle, little air gets to the sensitive skin, in the crotch warmth and moisture build up due to the less breathable clothing. You can do this to reduce odors (not only during your period):

  • Carrying laundry made from vegetable textiles.
  • Wear loose, loose clothing (not least if you have period pain, this is more comfortable anyway).
  • Sometimes you can also wear skirts that wrap around your legs and provide ventilation.
  • Avoid using plastic-containing inserts in the laundry.
  • Live standing and walking more than sitting down.

On the other hand, you do not need perfumed hygiene products. In fact, the fragrances in sanitary towels and panty liners are just other chemicals that irritate your skin. This also applies to all soaps, deodorants, washing lotions and other care products for the intimate area: lukewarm water is sufficient!