You catch an unpleasant smell as you stand up to go make a drink. Hold on, is that you or someone else? You are a bit sweaty under your arms and down there...
Wasn’t BO supposed to do one after our teens? Why’s it decided to come back with a vengeance now?
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.
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.
TOP TIPS FOR YOU
The good news is that this symptom can be thwarted with our handy tips and tricks.
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 you're 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.
There are several great brands making clothes designed to keep us cool and stylish during the menopause. Check out our clothing page for more information – there are even undies which can help you stay fresh.
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 specifically for use on female bits and pieces. Check out our Femcare page for some great brands.
MAKE A MINI REFRESH KIT
If you’re in the office for a full day and worried that your colleagues can smell your menopause body odour, it might be worth making yourself a mini refresh kit for your handbag.
In this discrete little pouch, add a packet of Femfresh 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. Check out our Nutrition page for supplement brands directly helping women experiencing the menopause.
TOP TIPS FOR OTHERS
It doesn’t take a genius to know this symptom comes with feelings of embarrassment and shame. You can take steps to help her hold her head up high and banish self-consciousness, even if you can’t banish hormonal body odour.
OUR ADVICE TO HER
The advice we’ve shared with her on this particular symptom includes staying away from man-made fabrics such as lycra and nylon, and sticking to loose cotton attire instead. Changing her 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 her nether regions and carry a quick-fix kit with wipes, spare undies and deodorant just in case she gets hot and bothered.
More info on all of these top tips is on the ‘For her’ section of this page. Take a look.
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 her 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. She might put on a brave face, but nine times out of 10 it’s not funny for her.
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 she feels like. Gently ask her to explain the effect it is having on her physically and emotionally.
You may not be able to do anything to make her feel better. But she may not want answers, she may just need to talk – and be properly heard. Switch your listening ears on and give her 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 – women 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 women find zinc and magnesium supplements useful for managing this symptom.
Why not gently ask if she’s tried anything like that? Let her know she can find loads of reputable suppliers over on our nutrition page.
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 her know through your actions. If you live with her, that might be making time to eat dinner together, asking how her day has been and really listening, or gestures like prepping her 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 her know you’re thinking of her?