“Smells Like Teen Spirit”! Nirvana might have been celebrating youthful teenage hormones but right now yours are probably causing either a change in your body odour - or your perception of it!
As your body’s internal heating system goes into over-drive in perimenopause, the hypothalamus, (the part of the brain that regulates temperature), is tricked by your depleting oestrogen levels into producing more sweat, which can be excessive for some of us. Bacteria then feeds on the protein in our sweat causing mouth, groin, armpit, and foot odour. Other menopause symptoms including: hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety and panic attacks can make sweating worse.
Some women also experience a heightened sense of smell in menopause. So if you’re worried you’re whiffy, relax you may be smelling something that nobody else is.
And the good news is…. Small changes to your lifestyle and being prepared for those hot moments should help you to manage any odour issues. As it’s caused by hormonal imbalance, post-menopause when your levels have settled so should the odour.
The best way to deal with menopause body odour
Menopause stinks! But there are practical steps you can take, and though you may feel like you’re the only person this is happening to, trust us, you’re not alone.
What to eat to help with body odour
Sweet smelling choices Eat more Zinc and Magnesium. These minerals play an important role in our biological well-being, they are the natural perfumes of our body and help us to smell good.
Zinc is found in our body fluids, so if you cry or sweat, you lose zinc. Deficiency increases bad breath and body odour. Eat more: sesame and pumpkin seeds, almonds, brazil and pine nuts.
Magnesium helps to balance the metabolism and control excessive sweat. Eat more: spinach, broccoli, fish, beans and lentils.
Chlorophyll-rich greens, like spinach and water cress, act like an internal deodorant to freshen up the body. Mint and parsley will help too.
Lifestyle & wellbeing to help with changes in body odour
Personal hygiene Stay on top of the showering. Take a lukewarm shower (avoid hot water to prevent further flushes) in the morning to wash away the bacteria feeding on your overnight sweat, concentrate on your groin, armpits and scalp (all sweat gland areas). Use specific feminine hygiene products, such as Femfresh. NHS Choices say that washing with water and a plain soap should be all you need to keep your vagina healthy.
Time to change your deodorant? It may take a bit of trial and error before you find one that works for you. Try an antiperspirant deodorant such as our favourite Vichy Sensitive Deodorant, or aluminium-free products such as PitRok Crystal Deodorant. Before applying deodorants, trust us here, you can make your own cleanser using baking powder to neutralise odour. Mix a tablespoon of baking powder to 2 teaspoons of water, apply to armpit, leave for 2-3 minutes and rinse – we have tried it at Hot Flush and it really works! (Not to be used if you’ve just shaved or have sensitive skin).
What you wear may help you to deal with body odour Some man-made fabrics trap heat, making you sweat more, unlesss they're specially designed wicking fabrics. Ditch the nylon and lycra & avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Cotton undies, shirts and t-shirts will keep you cooler and repel moisture. Wear layers so that you can strip down as you get hotter and sweatier. Unwashed clothes retain the bacteria that cause sweat to smell, clean clothes each day are a must. If heavy sweating is a problem, wear dark colours, they’re less likely to show sweat marks.
Every breath you take needs to be fresh smelling
Using floss and antiseptic mouth wash deals with the cause rather than just masking smells.
Try to get your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist every 6 months.
Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist
Chewing gum encourages saliva production and collects food debris that’s floating around your mouth that may cause bad breath.
Rehydrate Hot flushes, night sweats and anxiety cause you to sweat more. Make sure you stay hydrated, drinking roughly 8 glasses of water or caffeine-free herbal tea a day.
Do you think your feet smell?
If you’re sweating more the chances are your feet may smell more. Tips to help this include:
Daily washing. Try using lavender oil, soaking in Epsom Salts or sprinkling feet with baking soda to absorb moisture.
Fresh socks, tights or shoe-liners.
Applying hand sanitiser (kills bacteria).
As every girl guide knows, be prepared
Sometimes we have to accept that prevention doesn’t always work and we may have to take swift action to deal with body odour. It’s a good idea to carry emergency supplies. The following should fit into a small, zip up bag:
travel size toothbrush and paste
travel size anti-bacterial hand gel
change of top if you’re prone to heavy sweats.
What to avoid to help with body odour
Right now your body may be struggling to process certain foods; stimulants may cause you to sweat more, increasing body odour:
Caffeine: activates sweat glands and dries out the mouth leading to ‘coffee breath’.
Alcohol: odour comes out through pores and the bacteria feeding on sweat thrive, intensifying the smell.
Spices: can stay in your pores for days and seep out in your sweat
Sugary foods: the bacteria causing body odour feed on sugar
Smoking: causes body odour
Red meat: due to the length of time it takes for the body to digest red meat, odour increases in breath, bowel movements and sweat.
Supplements worth trying for changes in body odour
Sage: taken in capsules, as a tea, or via a cooling spray. Widely used to help with hot flushes and night sweats which cut could out the cause of your new odour.
Zinc: especially when taken with magnesium may improve metabolism, reduce sweat levels and body odour. Take it as part of a multivitamin. Talk to your doctor or a reputable herbalist about safe
Alternative help for changes in body odour
Essential Oils Use small amounts of essential oils mixed with a carrier oil or add a few drops to your bath water. Try: lavender, peppermint, sage and pine. quantities.
When to see your doctor about changes in body odour
Talk to your doctor to rule out an underlying health condition that could be causing you to sweat more. Once you’re sure this isn’t the case ask about prescription medications that can help with excessive sweating.
And then there’s always HRT ….
Body odour is caused by hormone fluctuations that may be corrected by HRT, although some women do complain of increased smell sensitivity when they start taking it. The Hot Flush caveat, there are pros and cons to taking HRT.