What Would You Do? Addressing Your Co-Worker’s Period Funk

February 20, 2013  |  

Source: Shutterstock.com

Last night, my sister and I were watching TV when some type of feminine hygiene commercial came on. In the commercial the women were dispelling myths about their periods. All of the myths were indeed false, until one woman said, “I used to think that people would be able to smell my period.” Immediately, I looked over at my sister. There was some truth behind that myth. If you wash properly and there are no other vaginal health issues, then people shouldn’t be able to smell your period. But, if you neglect your personal hygiene, there’s a good chance the funk might hit the fan…like literally.

If you don’t believe this is true, check out this absolutely humiliating story about a woman who woke up late for work and didn’t shower in the morning, though she was on her period.  Here’s how her day at the office played out.

Suddenly, Corynne noticed something was amiss. It smelled like an “animal died.” I didn’t smell it. Funny how that works. Corynne was screaming how bad it smelled. “It’s coming in waves,” Olivia said…But then I did smell it. We moved around, and strangely, wherever I moved, we had pinpointed and isolated the spot!.. It was my period-blood-overflowing vagina all along…

She didn’t realize it was her period blood until she went home and used the restroom.

And then — AS ONE DOES — I went to the bathroom. That’s when I nearly passed out at the smell of my now near-toxic-fumes-level of massive menstruation…

In this woman’s defense, she mentioned that up until that day, her flow was too light so she took a supplement to increase blood flow. Well she certainly, got more than she bargained for. And though her story is a bit of a hot mess, there’s a lesson to be learned here. The lesson is when you’re on your period, wash your vadge, two or three times a day if you have to and change your napkin or tampon often. Hopefully, these are lessons we learned right around puberty when our mothers handed us our first sanitary napkin. I know in my house, my mother warned me about vaginal odor saying, “By the time you smell yourself, someone else has already smelled you.” I don’t know how true that is; I’d like to think if my vadge stinks, I’d be the first to know. But I can understand why she said it. It was a warning not to be caught slippin.’ Don’t be foul.

If however, you found that you were one of the coworkers in the situation above and you knew that the odor was coming from your coworker’s pants, how would you handle it?

Would you pull her aside? Would you ignore it or would you wait until she left the room and talk about her with the other employees? If you would tell her, how would you go about having that conversation? What would you say to make her aware of the issue without humiliating her anymore than necessary? Do tell.

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  • Sarah

    This story sounds embellished. Plus, the truth is that every one of us has been stuck in this situation at one point or another and we all know it – from getting an unexpected period and not having tampons with you, to having an irregular flow and not realizing until later in the day that you soaked through your tampon to having a heavy flow with a stronger odor no matter how many times you shower- there are a million reasons why you may sense an odor and I would definitely watch yourself because it will happen to you at some point and I would hope the other woman would let it go since we’ve all been there as women.

    Everyone has period days where they may leak in their panties/thongs, etc., if the tampon absorbency isn’t strong enough, or because you waited an hour longer than typical to get to the restroom at work, or even days where you are in a rush to get to work and don’t have time to shower in the morning -from pulling an all nighter or oversleeping or not hearing your alarm- maybe power went out and you can’t take a shower? Anything could have happened so it’s really low to play as though the woman has bad hygiene- or act as if it hasn’t happened to you. That’s like saying your poop doesn’t stink. If the person is in the situation obviously it was an accident of some sort. Maybe there flow is too heavy for their size tampons? Maybe they ran out and can’t leave work immediately? Maybe they have an infection? Bv is common and you’ll definitely get it at some point if you haven’t already. Hope the next time you get it everyone at your job will call you dirty! That’s what you need- a taste of your own medicine.

  • IAJS

    Her flow was too light so she took a pill to bring on more flow?! What woman would want a heavier flow?

    • Bella

      I can understand it; she just wanted it to be done sooner.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    mama always said if you can smell yourself other people can too and it’s real bad when they can too. . .

  • AJ389

    I really wish I had not read this. Any teen or woman should not have to be told when to wash or change a sanitary napkin. That is just trifling! Forget about when your on monthly cycle, if you aren’t sick or incapacitated, please WASH YOUR BUTT EVERYDAY!! I know women are different from one another in some ways but if you are on your cycle smelling like roadkill, call your OBGYN pronto, your kitty is sick!! And just for the record, let me reiterate, WASH YOUR BUTT EVERYDAY, regardless cycle or not.

    • Guest

      I had a heart procedure and still got up and showered everyday. My cycle started the morning of my surgery btw. I tried to go under with my undies on but that doesn’t work. I had to lie still for 4 hours post procedure. A nurse had to clean me up. I slowly made my way to the necessary room with the wipes, no excuses for nastiness. To die for shame!

  • Moni

    I am now venturing in the menopause years. Some women, like myself, bleed like crazy, you sneeze, blood comes out, you hiccup, blood comes out, I mean it’s unbelievable. If you have fibroids, its worse. Let’s just say, not pretty. With that being said, you not only have to wash twice a day, you also need to carry baby wipes/feminine wipes on you at all times, because I can tell you, it will not be pretty if you don’t (overnight bleeding will confirm this in the morning). Ladies, wash up, keep it fresh, change frequently and carry those wipes! It sounds to me that this woman’s cycle is changing. Trust me, your body changes.

  • Shy Boogie

    This is a question that has been on many blogs and articles across the board. MN had every right to address it. If you want to read about war or politics then go to a more political site. The truth is, hygiene is a problem… sometimes at school and at the workplace.
    My lab partner in one of my classes had terrible BO. I felt bad because she was the sweetest person. Someone finally mentioned it in class and instantly I wish I would’ve been the one to pull her aside and spare her feelings. After that, I had a coworker with the same issues. I left a very soft anonymous educational note on her desk. I told her that Ph balance is an issue that many women deal with and it’s always worth getting checked out. Also that I was coming from a good place and I don’t think any less of her.
    I agree with @Tonia Lloyd … my mother has had older teenagers (she’s a foster parent) who knew very little about personal hygiene. She would literally have to force a 19 yr old female go take a shower on a regular basis, and she was highly sexually active. Some people just don’t know better.

  • mistyblue

    I would not say anything. It’s none of my business. The last time I pulled (someone I considered to be a friend) aside and talked to her about something of similar nature, she heeded the advice and had the issue sorted out. However, later on she made it clear to me that I must have been the one “making stuff up” about her because she went around and asked everyone else and they denied it. I was crushed. So from now on, whoever wants to walk around with their bad breath or smelly vagina, let them be…..

  • FromUR2UB

    I have a very keen sense of smell, so I’m always aware of bodily scents. The thing about menstrual blood is that if you smell it, it’s because it has “aged”, so to speak. It doesn’t take long either; all it takes is to hit air and then begin to dry. Showering at least twice daily during mensies should be routine, and carrying those little personal wipes for changes should avoid any “smells” . But, the kind of woman who would laugh about that with other people, rather than privately alert the person, is just low. Another thing, how can any woman observe that a woman has had an accident with her period, and say nothing? I don’t care if it’s a woman whom you despise, ALWAYS PULL HER COATTAIL ABOUT THAT. It’s just the decent thing to do.

  • Veronica

    I remember getting my hair done and every time the beautician moved around I smelt her period. I was so disgusted! She had on leggings so you know the thin material was easy for the smell to come out!!! *yuck*

    • Ms. Kameria

      Gross……leggings to me are like long panties….I true HOT mess indeed.

  • MsSunshyne77

    That story is a crock of bullsh–! You know good and well you can feel some sort of wetness when you come on. I have! It feels like you peed on yourself and if you can go all day feeling pizzy, there are much larger issues at hand.

  • Candacey Doris

    That’s something you have to tell. It’s not right to let someone go walking around attracting wild animals. Just be cool about it.

  • va

    Change often, feminine wiped, and summers eve powder,wash well …yep, I got a kit for my monthly.

  • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

    Slow day huh MN?

  • Ms. Kameria

    Gross…..to the umpteenth degree. If you’re walking around with flies trailing behind you because you didn’t want to change your pad or wash your as s before you left the house is ridiculous.

    • FromUR2UB

      All these descriptions of flies trailing, wild animals and maybe a few sharks drawing near have me splitting my side!

    • Ms. Kameria

      Whoever gave me the thumbs down must be one of the ones with the flies trailing behind them lol

  • Eggy

    Something about this whole article is just off… A woman should not smell like a biohazard …. period or otherwise. If you are smelling that toxic, you need to go to a gynecologist IMMEDIATELY and get checked down there for an infection, fistula, & other issues that may be causing such an alarming odor. This is NOT normal. This is not due to just one day of not showering…This is the craziest thing I’ve read all week…..

    • I dunno, I think everyone might be different in that department. Like there’s been articles about a woman who’s vaginal just smelled pretty…bad all the time and when she went to get it checked out, the doctors found that there was nothing wrong with her and that’s just how her body was. The same way there’s been articles about a woman who had discharge so much that it would come running down her legs . So, maybe this particular woman just has smelly periods?

    • AllyCat

      YES! I’m like what the hell are these people talking about? Period blood like most blood isnt rancid. And it doesnt stink offensively until its exposed to oxygen in which case you are changing that pad or tampon and disposing of it and using a new one. These same “women” must also think that fish smell is the same as vagina smell. It IS NOT btw.

  • MLS2698

    Who doesn’t wash around that time? All of this could have been avoided if she just showered, or even took a bird bath.

    • Izzysez

      Whoa now. I had a college roommate that NONE of us wanted to shower after because that’s how bad she made the bathroom smell. And she washed once a day like the rest of us.

      • MLS2698

        Wow! She could stand to add another shower to her day, and also buy a little .50 cent box of baking soda to boot; it takes care of ALL odors.

  • Trisha_B

    Did she not go to the bathroom at all during her work day to change her tampon/pad?! She should have noticed the smell then! loll

  • KJ23

    I usually go the empathetic route of: “Oh man, my period is so major right now, I think I might actually smell. I’m about to go and change my tampon.” Even if I’m not on my period. Usually, when it’s brought up, the other person would go to the bathroom to change theirs, so crisis is adverted, funk is gone, and feelings are saved.

    • Eggy

      Who discusses their period with their coworker? Where do you work where this is normal conversation?!

      • Meka X

        It’s not abnormal for female colleagues to talk about feminine things amongst each other, especially if they’ve worked around each other, forever. Come on!

  • Bren

    I’d just say, “What is that SMELL?!” The person should get the hint.

  • Nikki

    I would have told her to hold her legs together. I don’t mind telling someone that they have a booger in their nose or that their breath stinks. I would want someone to do the same for me.

    How do you not smell your own bloody crotch? I thought everyone pees at least once in the middle of the day.