Body odour

Sign 06

Body odour - GenM Sign

Body odour is a common sign of the menopause, caused by dropping oestrogen levels which can lead to increased production of testosterone. This fluctuation can make you sweat more and increase the presence of bacteria in your sweat, which can be strong smelling.

Source deodorants that neutralise the bacteria that causes sweat, and ensure you stay hydrated to offset any fluid loss through sweating.

As we head into the perimenopause, falling levels of oestrogen send our hypothalamus (the part our brain that regulates our temperature) into overdrive so it tells our bodies to make more sweat.

When we sweat, bacteria like to munch on the proteins it contains, which is what causes the pong.

Other symptoms like night sweats, hot flushes and anxiety, also brought on by hormone changes, don’t exactly help the sticky situation some of us find ourselves in.

As we move from the perimenopause into the menopause, you may actually find your sense of smell becomes heightened – which might lead you to think you’re stinking out your workmates when actually you’re not.

Our advice and guidance

The good news is that this symptom can be thwarted with our handy tips and tricks.

None of them require loads of effort either but will all go a long way to keeping you fresh and feisty throughout the day.

  • Change your clothes daily

    When we sweat into our clothes, bacteria love it. So much so, they multiply and that’s what makes us a bit whiffy.

    Change your clothes daily if you’re struggling with menopausal BO. Wash your dirties using a good quality detergent on a 30-degree wash. If they’re really smelly up it to 40-degrees to better destroy germs.

  • Stick to cotton

    Fabrics like nylon and lycra trap heat, meaning you sweat more in them. Tight-fitting clothes won’t help either.

    If you’re struggling with excess sweat and occasional whiffiness, choose clothes made from cotton, which fit loosely, letting your skin breathe. You might want to avoid light colours too which show sweat patches.

  • Swap to soap-free body wash

    Harsh soaps wash away the good bacteria and disrupt the delicate PH balance down there – which can cause a strong smell. Washing daily with just warm water is enough to keep your foof clean and healthy.

    If you feel you need some kind of body wash to clean yourself with, choose a soap-free, specially-formulated option, designed specially for use on female bits and pieces. 

  • Make a mini refresh kit

    If you’re in the office for a full day and worried that your colleagues can smell you, it might be worth making yourself a mini refresh kit for your handbag.

    In this discrete little pouch, add a packet wipes or something similar (baby wipes are a no-no – they disrupt the natural balance of bacteria down there). Pop in a clean pair of undies and socks, roll-on deodorant and mini perfume too.

    After you’ve freshened up, waltz out of those toilets with your head held high, knowing you really do smell like roses.

  • Eat your greens

    Believe it or not, but zinc and magnesium help us smell good, so it’s vital you get enough in your diet.

    Zinc is found in whole grains, beans and chickpeas, as well as red meat and chicken, while magnesium is in leafy greens, nuts and fish.

    If you’re worried about not getting enough, consider trying a supplement. 

  • Our advice to them

    The advice we’ve shared with them on this particular symptom includes staying away from man-made fabrics such as lycra and nylon and sticking to loose cotton attire instead. Changing their clothes daily, even if they’re not dirty may help.

    Additionally, we’ve recommended using a soap-free body wash which will help maintain normal PH levels in their nether regions and carry a quick-fix kit with wipes, spare undies and deodorant just in case they get hot and bothered.

  • Be sensitive

    The last thing someone needs when they’re dealing with menopausal BO is for someone to draw attention to it by exclaiming loudly in public: “Wow, you’re a bit whiffy!”

    Instead, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help before any social situations. And please, don’t try to lighten the mood by making a joke about it. They might put on a brave face, but nine times out of 10 it’s not funny for them.

  • Ask her to explain

    You may have had a headache a hundred times, but have you had a menopausal headache?

    Don’t assume you know what they feel like. Gently ask them to explain the effect it is having on them physically and emotionally.

    You may not be able to do anything to make them feel better. But they may not want answers, they may just need to talk – and be properly heard. Switch your listening ears on and give them your full attention.

  • Share your resources

    If you’re out with a good friend or working with a colleague who you’re really close with, don’t be afraid to gently offer your own handbag resources if they smell. It’s a bit like letting someone leave the toilets with paper stuck to their shoe – people need to stick together on these things.

    Don’t make a big deal out of it – instead try saying something along the lines of: “Want to try my new perfume?” or “Is it hot in here or just me? Want a spritz of deodorant? I’ve got some here.”

  • Suggest a supplement

    Some people find zinc and magnesium supplements useful for managing this symptom.

    Why not gently ask if they have tried anything like that? 

  • Let her know you care

    Knowing we’re loved, appreciated and supported is a powerful thing when we’re feeling emotionally and physically a bit wobbly. However, telling a friend or partner without sounding patronising is easier said than done.

    Let them know through your actions. If you live with them, that might be making time to eat dinner together, asking how their day has been and really listening, or gestures like prepping them lunch for work and sorting chores without being asked. If you’re a friend, why not send a care package, arrange a coffee or even just drop her a text to let them know you’re thinking of them?

    If you’re worried about body odour, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.

    If you’d like more information, we have put some further references below for you:

General information

You can also find more general information about the menopause transition at the British Menopause Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.