Whether you’ve recently started menstruating or you’ve had your monthly cycle for many years, managing the downsides of your period are important.
She offers 5 easy ways to maintain hygiene during that time of the month.
- Choose the right feminine products.
“There are many more out there than you think, and it is good to try them out to see which one works best for you,” says Dr. Dustin. “Remember to change whichever product you use often enough to promote cleanliness and health down there.”
If you prefer pads, Dr. Dustin suggests switching to a cloth or cotton pad. “You may have to change it more often, but cotton pads are usually more hygienic and cause less odor because they do not trap the blood,” says Dr. Dustin. Find the right menstrual products for you.
- Don’t overthink your soap.
“There are a lot of feminine cleansing products out there, and most of them are unnecessary, costly and even harmful,” warns Dr. Dustin. “Plain old unscented soap and water is best.”
- Shower daily.
Although you may not wash your hair daily, it is important to shower each day during your period.
“Avoid scented vaginal products or sprays,” says Dr. Dustin. “They are not necessary and the chemicals are usually irritating to the area.”
Remember that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Avoid items that promote spraying or washing out the inside of your vagina — these items can disrupt the natural bacteria and pH balance, and can actually lead to an infection.
- Change your underwear daily.
“You should change your underwear daily, and even more often if they are getting soiled during your period,” warns Dr. Dustin. “If you are using tampons you may have to change your underwear more often.” She recommends cotton underwear, especially during your period, because they are absorbent and more breathable.
- The smell is natural, but you can minimize it.
According to Dr. Dustin, the smell that occurs when you are on your period is usually a combination of blood, bacteria and sweat. “You do not sweat more than at other times, but the combination of these things can make an odor,” she says.
This odor can become more prevalent when:
• You sit for too long, which allows the growth of bacteria or accumulation of blood clots.
• You don’t drink enough fluids, and don’t go to the restroom enough to change pads or tampons. “You should change pads or tampons at least every two to six hours to avoid buildup of fluids or odor,” says Dr. Dustin.
• Your pubic hair is too long. “Keep pubic hair clean and trimmed by waxing, shaving or trimming,” says Dr. Dustin. “Sometimes blood and sweat can get stuck in hair and contribute to the odor.”
If you notice that the scent does not seem to decrease after these steps, try using a menstrual cup. “If you are used to using tampons or pads, it may take a while to get used to them,” says Dr. Dustin. “They cause less odor than pads and tampons, are reusable and are more environmentally friendly.”