Changes in Body Odor

Medically reviewed

Medically reviewed by Brenda G., MD | Written by Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Jun 18, 2020


Did You Know?

In a blind study, both men and women rated the body odor of vegetarians as more attractive than that of meat eaters.

On top of bothersome hot flashes and night sweats, changes in body odor that occur as a result of these menopause symptoms are one of the most odious side effects of menopause. Changes in body odor can lead to embarrassment, dejection, and anxiety in social situations.

Fortunately, once the root cause of these changes in body odor is understood, it is possible to control them and regain confidence. Keep reading to learn more about changes in body odor, why they occur during menopause, and how to treat them.

What is body odor?

About Changes in Body Odor

Definition of body odor

Body odor is a byproduct of sweating, the body's natural cooling system. The body has two types of sweat glands.

Eccrine Glands

  • Located all over body
  • Produce odorless sweat
  • Sweat is released onto body's surface

Apocrine Glands

  • Produce fatty sweat inside glands
  • Located near hair follicles
  • Sweat is pushed to surface when women feel anxious or stressed
Skin Anatomy

In the case of the apocrine glands - which are located near hair follicles on the scalp, underarms, and groin area - the sweat produced contains fatty compounds. Bacteria feed on this sweat when it is secreted to the skin's surface, and the resulting waste products, fatty acids, and ammonia form a palpable odor that is unique to every woman

Changes in body odor and menopause

Numerous typical menopause symptoms can increase sweat production, which can lead to changes in body odor. Hot flashes and night sweats in particular have a strong effect, though psychological symptoms such as panic attacks and anxiety can lead to an increase in the incidence of sweating as well. More sweat makes changes in body odor more noticeable.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes of the increased sweat production that results in changes in body odor.

Symptoms of body odor
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Causes of Changes in Body Odor

Hormonal causes

Body Parts Affected by Body Odor

For most middle-aged women, hormone fluctuations are the primary cause of body odor changes. The main player is estrogen, which is responsible for helping regulate the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls body temperature.

When estrogen levels drop, as is common during menopause, a false message is sent to the hypothalamus saying that the body is overheated. The body then springs into action, which results in an increase in sweat production and changes in body odor.

Causes of body odor

Other causes

Other Causes of Body Odor

In addition, other factors may play a role in the changes in body odor a woman experiences; diet, stress, certain diseases, and genetics are all potential causes. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester or other non-breathable materials will also collect sweat and may lead to increased body odor.

Changes in body odor don't have to be permanent for women. Read on to learn about treatment options to regain one's former natural level of body odor.

Chronic Excessive Body Odor: Causes and Solutions Chronic Excessive Body Odor: Causes and Solutions

Changes in Body Odor Treatments

There are many treatment options available for women to fight unwelcome changes in body odor.

Did You Know?

Zinc and magnesium help banish body odor. Seafood, particularly oysters, and nuts are high in both nutrients.

It is generally recommended that women begin with the least invasive option, which would be lifestyle changes. If changes in body odor are being caused by stress or poor nutrition, eating a balanced diet rich in magnesium and zinc in particular can be extremely beneficial. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation can also help, as can wearing breathable cotton clothing and bathing regularly.

Treating body odor

Lifestyle changes can be difficult to implement all at once for a busy woman, however. Because body odor is primarily due to hormone fluctuations, the most effect approach is to treat the problem directly at the source. A variety of natural and alternative remedies exist that are able to address this hormonal imbalance. A combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicine is often the most effective way to manage body odor.

Body Odor Treatment

If women are experiencing other symptoms that may be indicative of a more serious issue, they should consult a trusted medical professional. Pharmaceutical options are also available for treating changes in body odor, but are recommended only under very severe circumstances due to the potential side effects.

Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for changes in body odor, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options do not work, prescription medications. The most effective treatments typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicine.

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