Yup, you can add body odor to the list of “weird stuff that happens at menopause.” But take heart, this may be one of the more easily managed symptoms.
If you’re at or approaching menopause, you may have noticed your body smells differently. The deodorant and anti-perspirant you've used for years, even decades, may no longer work, making you more self-conscious. Even the feeling in your armpits may be different—stickier and heavier. While these changes may not be pleasant, they are normal.
Hormone imbalances and body odor often go together. Dips in estrogen can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, meaning you simply sweat more, which in turn can result in more odor.
This is also a time of life filled with high levels of anxiety or stress, which can make you sweat, too. Unlike sweat resulting from warm temperatures or exercise, anxiety sweat is different—and often more malodorous. Sweat itself is odorless, but when it combines with bacteria on your skin things start to get stinky. Anxiety sweat is produced by the apocrine glands, found in your armpit and groin areas, and it’s a fatty sweat (eew) that bacteria love.
The good news: when hormones, anxiety, and stress settle down after you reach menopause, so does the BO. Until then, there are ways to feel fresher.
The obvious is to ramp up your personal hygiene with more frequent bathing, but sometimes that’s not enough or not always practical. Here are more strategies.
Be prepared. Carry cleansing wipes for a quick refresh anytime, anywhere. Just be sure the product you use is gentle enough for frequent application, particularly if you’re using it down there. Look for a wipe that is pH balanced and contains natural, moisturizing ingredients like aloe and vitamin E.
Get more of these minerals: zinc and magnesium. Zinc is found in oysters, tofu, chicken, yogurt, and shitake mushrooms. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, brown rice, and almonds.
Wear wicking fabrics. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, and silk allow your skin to breathe and are a great choice for every day. When you’re exercising, synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon pull sweat away from your skin so it evaporates more quickly to keep you cool and less pungent.
Go green. Adding wheatgrass, spinach, and other greens to your diet will increase your intake of chlorophyll. This green pigment in plants may have some deodorizing properties.
Chill out. Less stress can mean less sweat—especially the stinky kind. Meditation and yoga are great ways to quiet your mind, and a relaxing walk outdoors can ease anxiety.
Skip or limit these foods: Red meat, spices, garlic, onions, sugary foods, and alcohol all release compounds through the skin that can contribute to odor. Also, watch out for caffeinated beverages and spicy foods that may make you sweat more.
Minimize hot flashes and night sweats. We know, easier said than done, but here are some science-backed remedies that may help. And the more you can keep your cool, the less you’ll sweat and the less you’ll be doing the sniff test to make sure you’re not offending anyone.
Some treatments, such as prescription-strength deodorants and Botox to paralyze sweat glands, are available from medical professionals only. If you don’t find relief from excessive sweating and body odor, and they are interfering with your life, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. They can also check for other causes, such as thyroid issues like Graves’ disease.
If your body odor has a fruity or bleach-like scent, be sure to talk to your doctor. A fruity odor may be a sign of diabetes, and a bleach scent may indicate liver or kidney problems. Other accompanying symptoms you should watch out for include, enlarged thyroid, bulging eyes, vision problems, unintended weight loss, more frequent bowel movements, and trembling in hands and fingers. If you are experiencing any of these along with body odor, check with your doctor.
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.