While it may seem like the best ones to make use of, I would like to reiterate that scented sanitary pads shouldn’t be an option – at least not for women who are very sensitive and prone to yeast infections. I understand that sometimes we make use of them because the odour might be too bad, but that is not a solution.
Sanitary napkins are made from absorbent material that blocks moisture and generates heat. Using a scented sanitary napkin for a long duration can result in the growth of bacteria due to the moist and warm environment it creates down there.
Furthermore, if the chemicals present on the top layer of the scented pad come in direct contact with your sensitive labial and vaginal skin, they can cause a yeast infection.
When you put scented things in your vagina, you kill the good bacteria that’s in there and then the bad bacteria overgrow. These tampons can cause bacterial vaginosis, so your vagina can smell like fish. This product that’s supposedly designed to make you smell better can give you an infection and do exactly the opposite of what it’s intended to do.
The vagina is a pretty incredible organism. Lined with what’s called an epithelium, the tissue that protects internal organs, the vagina produces a layer of mucus. This constant flow of mucus, which you eventually see in your underwear in the form of discharge, helps lubricate the vagina for sex and childbirth, but it also serves a more fundamental purpose by guarding the vagina against external threats. Chemical additives like fragrances can irritate or even erode this barrier, harming your vagina’s natural defences.
If you have a really strong odour, these are solutions to try out. Bathe daily and if required, even twice a day. You should also remember to cultivate the habit of changing your sanitary pad or tampon every 4-6 hours, regardless of how light/heavy your menstrual flow is. As such, it is of paramount importance to remember to avoid douching or inserting anything inside your vagina to cleanse it, as the vagina is a self-cleaning organ.
Lastly, you must ditch tight leggings, thongs, and synthetic underwear. Instead, use breathable, cotton ones to avoid odour and irritation. In case a fishy odour persists, see a doctor as it can be due to a pre-existing bacterial infection or even an STI.
In case you were wondering why these scented items exist even when they are not healthy for you, it is because companies market them because of women’s insecurities. I mean, if something smells whatsoever, some women will get something that smells good to get rid of it.
Your vagina being self-cleansing should be enough because all you need to do is change your sanitary pads every 4-6 hours, whether your flow is heavy or not. If your odour is really bad, you should just see a doctor because a lavender-scented pad will not solve your problem. It will just make it worse.
Your vagina does not need to smell like fresh roses to be ‘clean’ when you are on your period. It should smell like a vagina.
Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.