Contrary to many people’s beliefs, sweat does not cause body odor. There are two kinds of sweat, eccrine and aprocrine. Eccrine sweat is produced all over the body and is entirely odorless. Aprocrine sweat is a fatty sweat produced by glands located in the armpit and groin. While it too is odorless, the bacteria on your skin feed on the fatty components, and it is those bacterial by-products — including fatty acids and ammonia — that cause changes in body odor.
Definition of Changes in Body Odor in Menopause
Changes in body odor during menopause are generally a matter of quantity rather than substance. That is, your basic body odor, which is different for every person, doesn’t really change. There’s just more of it, so it becomes more noticeable.
When it comes to increased perspiration, symptoms and causes are somewhat like chickens and eggs. Which comes first? Are night sweats a symptom of increased sweat or a cause? Does anxiety cause you to sweat more or do you become anxious because of increased sweat? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the effect it has on you and how you can treat it.
Symptoms of Menopause Changes in Body Odor
- Self-esteem issues
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
Causes of Menopause Changes in Body Odor
Other menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, are partially responsible for increased perspiration. Estrogen is the hormone that regulates the body’s temperature, in conjunction with the hypothalamus. When estrogen levels decline during menopause, the hypothalamus assumes that the body is overheated. The hypothalamus then sends out messages that cause increased sweat production as a means of cooling the body.
Other elements also affect sweat production and changes in body odor. Stress and anxiety cause increased sweat, as do spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and lack of certain nutrients, particularly magnesium and zinc. Wearing non-breathable fabrics such as polyester and other synthetics can also increase the amount you sweat. Synthetics also trap sweat rather than wicking it away, so bacteria have more chance to feed on it.
Menopause Changes in Body Odor Treatments
Lifestyle changes can help somewhat in controlling menopause changes in body odor. Wearing cotton or other natural fabrics helps, as do avoiding triggers in your diet. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga or meditation may also help. Of course, bathing frequently and using an antibacterial soap are basic steps.
As with most other symptoms of menopause, however, the most effective treatment is to treat the source of the problem: low levels of estrogen. Conventional hormone replacement therapy has fallen out of favor because it carries with it serious side effects. A natural treatment, however, can help stimulate the production of your body’s own estrogen, relieving increased perspiration and other symptoms.
Menopause Changes in Body Odor FAQ
Q: What are the best dietary sources of magnesium and zinc?
A: All kinds of seafood provide these important minerals. Oysters are especially high in these nutrients. You can also get zinc and magnesium from nuts.
Risks of Menopause Changes in Body Odor
The primary risks of menopause changes in body odor are psychological rather than physical. Embarrassment and anxiety about body odor may cause a woman to limit her social life and worry about those times when interaction with others can’t be avoided, such as work.