We are bringing up a delicate subject—body odor—and the acknowledgement that it can be a challenge around menopause. We realize that knowing this situation is normal doesn’t help much, but we also want you to know that we’re going to provide some great solutions for this issue. So bear with us as we dive into this not-so-fragrant topic.
What is body odor?
Body odor, aka bromhiddroi, osmidrosis, or ozochrotia, is the smell the body gives off when bacteria on the skin breaks down proteins into acids. Sweat itself is actually odorless to people. However, when the bacteria multiply rapidly in the presence of sweat, the result can be an unpleasant smell.
Some people are more susceptible to having body odor than others, including individuals who are obese, who have diabetes, who regularly eat spicy foods, and, yes, women during menopause years. Areas of the body most susceptible to body odor are the feet, groin, armpits, genitals, pubic hair, belly button, anus, and behind the ears. In fact, dogs and other animals use their nose to identify people based on each person’s unique body odor.
First of all, a change in body odor during the years before, during, and after menopause is normal. One reason is that the decline in estrogen can cause hot flashes and night sweats, which translates into more sweat and thus more potential body odor.
Why is body odor associated with menopause?
Did you know that all body odor is not created equally? If you are experiencing stress or anxiety, the sweat you produce is different than that which occurs after exercise. If your sweat is associated with anxiety, it is formed by the apocrine glands, which produces a stronger odor than “regular” sweat.
Sometimes, however, the change in body odor is linked to medical conditions. One of those conditions is Graves’ disease; another is diabetes. An inability to get rid of the excess glucose can cause body odor. Other symptoms may include excessive thirst, blurry vision, slow healing wounds, extreme hunger, and the need to urinate often.
Here are a few other reasons why you may notice more body odor around menopause:
- Your sense of smell can change. Sometimes a woman’s sense of smell becomes more acute during these times, so you notice body odor more.
- Your temperature regulation changes. Hot flashes and night sweats can be associated with greater body odor.
- Your digestion changes. If your digestion slows down, your body may use sweat to help eliminate extra toxins, which can nourish the bacteria living on your skin.
Dehydration happens. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water, and when that happens, our sweat can become more concentrated and smelly.
How can I treat body odor naturally?
Lifestyle changes are the recommended first line of defense against body odor. These ideas can help deodorize your body both inside and out!
- Enjoy chlorophyll.
Lots of green foods are rich in this natural deodorant. While wheatgrass is one of the best, you also can try spirulina, spinach, parsley, chlorella, and broccoli. Great to add to smoothies!
- Mind your minerals.
Both zinc and magnesium can help deodorize your body as well. Among the best foods to eat often are leafy greens, avocados, cashews, pecans, shellfish, and tofu.
- Reduce certain foods.
Red meat, sugar, caffeine, fried foods, and those made with white flour all can contribute toxins that promote odor. Cleaning up your diet may help you smell sweeter!
- Use natural products.
Natural deodorizers such as lemon juice and water, apple cider vinegar, or witch hazel can put the brakes on body odor. Use a cotton ball to dab a little of any of these substances on problem areas (e.g., arm pits) or use a spritzer bottle.
- Manage stress.
Less stress and anxiety can translate into less sweat. Practice ways to quiet your mind, such as meditation, yoga, listening to soothing music, or walking in nature.
- Soak in baking soda.
Add baking soda to a warm bath and enjoy a 15 minute soak. You might also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
- Try supplements.
Some women have success using phytoestrogens such as dong quai or black cohosh. Before using these supplements, consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
when to see a health provider
Generally, body odor can be managed effectively using natural methods. However, if all of your efforts have failed, you may have an underlying medical condition, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor about other possible causes.
A change in body odor around menopause typically isn’t serious medically, but it can be a game changer, especially if you need to interact with the public. A variety of natural remedies can be helpful in reducing this side effect of hormonal changes.