The sudden appearance of a change of body odour can make you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and affect your self-esteem. Don’t worry you are not alone.
It is common to experience increased body odour during perimenopause, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, that increase the amount and/or frequency that your body perspires.
Psychological menopausal symptoms such as depression, panic attacks or anxiety can lead to an increase in the incidence of sweating.
Perimenopause is the time in your life when physiological changes take place and you begin the transition to menopause. This transitional period can be anywhere between 2-10 years before your “final period”. You are considered to have reached menopause when you have not had a menstrual period for a full 12 months.
Estrogen is responsible for helping regulate the hypothalamus, the part of the body that controls body temperature, consequently, when estrogen levels decline during menopause a false message is sent to the hypothalamus saying that the body is overheated. The hypothalamus takes action resulting in an increase in sweat production and changes in body odour.
Bodies produce two types of sweat both of which are odourless and remain that way until bacteria mix with it.
Eccrine sweat – produced by the eccrine glands, which are the main sweat glands of the body (located all over the body). The primary function of this type of sweat is to regulate body temperature.
Apocrine sweat – a thicker type of sweat produced in the groin, armpits, the areola of the nipples, mouth, feet and hair. Apocrine sweat is fatty sweat – the bacteria on your skin feed on the fatty components and it is these bacterial by-products that cause a change in body odour. We all have staph germs on our skin which is considered normal. This sweat is produced when you are feeling anxious, stressed or from exercise/physical exertion.
Lifestyle Choices That Could Cause Body Odour
• Synthetic Fabrics
• Spicy food/onions/garlic
• Lack of magnesium and zinc
Although for most women of mid life years, erratic hormone fluctuations are the principal cause for a change in body odour, this change can be as a result of a medical condition.
Medical Conditions That Could Cause Body Odour
Endocrine Symptoms That May Occur Along With Body Odour
• Cold or clammy hands
• Extreme, extended, unexplained sweating
• Night sweats
• Sweating with weight loss
Other Symptoms That May Occur Along With Body Odour
• Loss of appetite
• Rapid heart rate (Tachycardia)
• Unexplained weight loss
In rare cases, body odour may accompany a life-threatening condition
• Chest pain
• Loss of vision
• Shortness of breath
• Sudden confusion or less of consciousness, even for a moment.
(Immediate medical evaluation is necessary if any of the above occur)
Prevention of a Change in Body Odour
- Avoid cold showers – they can trigger hot flushes
- Shower frequently – pay particular attention to the armpits, groin etc
- Use antiperspirant and deodorant
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Avoid alcohol – alcohol exacerbates body odour
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid dietary triggers such as spicy food which can induce hot flushes or increase their severity
- Zinc and Magnesium are found in seafood (particularly oysters) and nuts – both nutrients are known to help eliminate body odour. Essential vitamins and minerals for women
- Learning to manage stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques can help to reduce body odour
- Wear cotton or other natural fabrics
- Change clothes frequently
- Natural menopause relief to rebalance your hormones
Remember you are not the only woman to struggle with a change in body odour during perimenopause, so try to relax about it as stress makes you sweat and heat makes bacteria grow and spread.
Severson, D., (Aug 2013) Body Odor from Sweating & Menopause.http://www.livestrong.com/article/156175-body-odor-from-sweating-menopause/
Menopause and Change in Body Odor. Retrieved in March 2014. Retrieved from http://www.menopauseguide.com/menopause-and-change-in-body-odor.html
Hutchinson, Susan M.D. (Nov 2007) The Stages of a Woman’s Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause.
Love, S. M.D. (2003) Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Menopause: What is it? BMJ Group. Patient Leaflet. 2007
What Is Body Odor? Retrieved from http://www.menopausecentre.com.au/Symptoms-bodyodor-menopause