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Menstrual Odor

Q: I have tried medical books and cannot find an answer to my problem. I have an offensive odor during my period and when the period is finished the odor is gone. I have scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist but I am due for another period before the appointment, can you help me?

Dr. Donnica:
This is a tough question, because an offensive odor to one person, may seem normal to another. Most women notice a distinct odor during their menses and this may be compounded by increased sweating in the pubic area during that time of the month. There are several approaches you can try.  One is to use deodorant tampons and change them each time you go the toilet.  Tampons have also recently been shown to reduce the risk of endometriosis, which is another benefit.  Wearing cotton undergarments and avoiding pantyhose may also help minimize sweating and odors.  Some women like to use douches and other feminine hygiene products (from cornstarch baby powder between the thighs to sprays), which may help.  Another strategy is to talk to your doctor about using birth control pills.  Although that won't change the odor per se, it often reduces the amount of menstrual flow and the length of time that you're bleeding.  Many women use birth control pills to skip periods intentionally; you can eliminate this problem (the period and the odor) altogether every other month.

Created: 8/15/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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