Why body odour during menopause is nothing to worry about
During menopause, our bodies experience many different changes, and an increase or change in body odour is nothing to worry about. You may feel like your armpits are feeling (and smelling) a little different than usual, you are sweating profusely and more often, or perhaps you’re facing odour changes “down below”. Body odour changes are often attributed to hot flushes, night sweats, as well as anxiety and stress, and are experienced by many women who are transitioning through menopause.
Not to worry, all of this is completely normal during menopause and there are many ways we can continue feeling and smelling fresh! By the end of this article you will have the knowledge and understanding of why your body odour is changing, and you will learn about ways to help deal with it.
There are quite a few reasons why you may be experiencing changes in your body odour during menopause. Let’s dive into some of the most common reasons.
Sense of smell
During menopause, your own sense of smell can become more acute. It’s possible that due to your hormonally heightened sensitivity, you may think you’re “smelly”, but it’s not noticeable to anyone else. If you start to notice other strong scents such as perfume or paint, perhaps your sense of smell has just become stronger.
We all know that maintaining your body temperature during menopause can be especially difficult when dealing with hot flushes and night sweats. Because your body regulator isn’t working as it used to, hot flushes and night sweats may make you more pungent as your body struggles to cool down.
This is a time of life filled with potential high levels of anxiety and stress, which can make you sweat, too! Sweat itself is odourless, but anxiety sweat is produced by the apocrine glands and it’s a fatty sweat that bacteria (unfortunately) LOVE.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, your sweat will become more concentrated. This also means that your sweat will be stinkier. This goes without saying, but remember to drink plenty of water every day, as that alone can sometimes be enough to sort everything out.
Changes “down there”
You may also notice that your vaginal odour may change during menopause, and this is generally nothing to worry about. Due to falling oestrogen levels, your vagina will experience a change in pH level, resulting in a change in both fluids and odour. However, it’s best to speak with your doctor if you do notice a substantial change.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ that doesn’t require douches, soaps, or perfumes. These can affect the pH levels which can increase vulnerability to infections (which are normally the cause of a bad smell)! Soap can easily irritate the vaginal area, so just letting water run over the labia is often enough to keep it clean.
Now that we know why body odour can change during menopause, let’s discuss some solutions to help combat the odour. There are many strategies you can use to make yourself feel more comfortable throughout the day, whether it be by fighting that extra sweat head on, or just making sure you are feeling clean and fresh.
Take extra care of your hygiene
Carrying cleansing wipes that are pH balanced and contain natural, moisturising ingredients like aloe and vitamin E will allow you to freshen up at any time of the day.
Bathe more frequently; try starting and ending your day with a shower!
Use natural deodorants. As you sweat primarily from your armpits, using antiperspirants is usually the go-to for preventing sweat. Although normal antiperspirants stop sweat and smell, they can have a disastrous effect. Since they block a certain area from sweating, your body ends up sweating from other areas instead. By using natural deodorants, that stinky bacteria will be neutralised and your body will be able to sweat the way it needs to. We love this one from Moss & Noor.
Minimise hot flushes and night sweats
When pigs fly, right? In all seriousness, there are many science-backed remedies that can help you reduce hot flushes and night sweats. Read more about hot flushes here.
Adjust your wardrobe
Wearing wicking fabrics like cotton, wool, and silk will allow your skin to breathe so that sweat (and odour) doesn’t stick to you. Try not to wear really tight jeans or trousers, or tights, because these can affect the airflow down under. PS. You can totally use this as an excuse to go on a shopping spree.
Adjust your diet
Certain foods such as red meat, spices, garlic, onions, alcohol, and sugary foods all contribute to odour as they release compounds through the skin. You should also avoid caffeinated beverages and spicy foods that may make you sweat more. But we know, skipping that morning coffee MAY be a dealbreaker…
Adding greens such as wheatgrass and spinach to your diet will increase your intake of chlorophyll, which often has deodorising properties.
Adding minerals such as zinc and magnesium to your diet can also help. Zinc is found in oysters, tofu, chicken, yoghurt, and shitake mushrooms. Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, brown rice, and almonds.
De-stress & relax
Anxiety and stress sweat is the stinkiest of all! Mediation, yoga, or a relaxing walk outdoors can help you quiet your mind and ease anxiety.
For more information about stress and anxiety during menopause, as well as how to deal with it, check out this article.
If you don’t find that any of these suggestions have helped you find relief from excessive sweating and body odour, perhaps it is time to get help from a medical professional. There are many prescription-strength deodorants or other treatments such as Botox that can help combat body odour and excessive sweating. It is important to note that there are also other medical conditions that can result in excessive sweating and body odour, see your doctor if the problem persists.
Now you’re all set to combat that body odour and extra sweat! And don’t forget; you’re not alone in this. Check out the Olivia app for more resources and programs to guide you through your journey through menopause.
Ivetić, Vesna. n.d. “[Olfactory perception in women with physiologically altered hormonal status (during pregnancy and menopause].” PubMed. Accessed June 1, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12584889/.
“Menopause - Symptoms.” n.d. NHS. Accessed June 1, 2022. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/.
Spencer, Clare. 2021. “Menopause Symptoms | Body Odour.” My Menopause Centre. https://www.mymenopausecentre.com/symptoms/body-odour/.