Have you always been someone who enjoys donning sleeveless shirts on warm days, only to find yourself reluctantly pulling on a cardigan now that you’ve hit menopause? Or have you reached up to wipe the sweat from your brow while gardening only to be met with an unfamiliar and unpleasant aroma? If so, you’re likely wondering how to get rid of menopause body odor. While certainly not welcome, an increase in the strength or potency of body odor is common during this time of life. Read on to discover why body odor worsens during menopause, as well as the most effective ways to sidestep it.
Why body odor worsens during menopause
“Body odor can increase or worsen during menopause because of an increase in sweat and an increase of bacteria in the sweat,” explains naturopathic doctor and hormone expert Tabitha A. Lowry, ND, MS, a member of The Pulse, The Honey Pot Company’s panel of expert advisors. And this isn’t just confined to women who experience hot flashes or night sweats.
There are a number of bodily changes that coincide during menopause and result in an increase in menopause body odor. “Your sense of smell can change, so your own body odor may smell different or stronger to you even though it smells the same to others,” notes Alyssa Quimby, MD, a board certified OBGYN in Los Angeles and co-founder of Female Health Education. The remaining reasons behind menopause body odor have to do with — you guessed it — your hormones.
The impact your hormones have on menopause body odor
“As estrogen drops during menopause, women can have relatively higher levels of testosterone,” Dr. Quimby explains. “This may attract more bacteria to sweat and, in turn, cause increased odor.” Indeed, higher testosterone levels in men have been associated with stronger smelling menopause body odor. And experts say same may be true of women going through menopause.
If you are experiencing hot flashes or night sweats, you’re also likely simply sweating more than usual. “During menopause, the changes in hormone levels cause our hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls your body heat) to have difficulties regulating body temperature,” explains Dr. Lowry. “It also has a hard time reducing the thermoneutral zone, the range of temperatures where the body can maintain its core temperature. This causes your body to sweat more in an effort to cool you down.”
This increase in sweat can manifest in bursts like hot flashes. Or it can simply be a tendency to sweat more at all hours, which can cause a noticeable increase in body odor. Experts agree there are no specific areas of the body where women sweat more during menopause. But if you’ve noticed body odor from certain areas in the past, such as your underarms, groin, or inner thighs, this is likely where you’ll notice an increase during menopause as well. (Click through to see how hormone swings that trigger PCOS facial hair growth can be tamed by spearmint tea.)
To end the hot flashes that cause menopause body odor
1. Supplement with a daily dose of black cohosh
“I utilize multiple herbs in my practice to successfully treat symptoms related to menopause,” says Dr. Lowry. One of her favorites is a white flowering herb known as black cohosh. Research in the Journal of Education and Health promotion found it has the power to reduce the number of hot flashes women experience. And in one Mayo Clinic study, black cohosh cut hot flashes by up to 71%. Credit goes to the herb’s estrogenic sterols, compounds the body uses to make symptom-soothing hormones. Bonus: A separate study found black cohosh can even help combat other symptoms of menopause, including mood swings, insomnia and weight gain. Aim for 40 mg. black cohosh daily to get the benefits. One to try: Gaia Herbs Women’s Balance.
2. Relax with a cup of sage tea
Sipping two cups a day of this fragrant, slightly minty herbal tea (either hot or iced) slashes moderate hot flashes by 79%. Plus, it eliminates all severe hot flashes within eight weeks, according to a study in Advances in Therapy. The researchers explain that sage contains estrogen-like compounds that help balance the hormonal shifts that can trigger flushing. One to try: Celebration Herbals Organic Sage Leaf Tea.
3. Practice balloon breathing
If you’re experiencing hot flashes multiple times a day, try spending 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening practicing paced belly breathing. To do, slow your breathing to six breaths a minute and feel your stomach rise and fall as if you are inflating and deflating a balloon. According to an American Journal of Medicine study, this practice improves your blood vessels’ ability to dilate, helping them better regulate temperature. The payoff: Mayo Clinic scientists found that women who used this practice significantly reduced their hot flashes. (Click through to discover 5 more breathing tricks that boost your health and to learn how deep breathing can minimize the irritability linked to menopause)
To reduce night sweats that can cause body odor
1. Snack on roasted edamame before bed
To dodge sleep-disrupting night sweats, munch on a handful of dry-roasted edamame two hours before bed. These crispy soybeans contain phytoestrogens that offset the plunge in estrogen responsible for overnight flushing. Research in the journal Menopause found this strategy can improve symptoms up to 84%. One to try: The Only Bean Crunchy Dry Roasted Edamame Snacks (Sea Salt).
Not a fan of edamame? You can get the same benefits by sipping a glass of soy milk or a latte made with soy milk before bed. (Click through for more on how soy can reduce hot flashes and creative ways to incorporate more soy into your diet.)
2. Chill your pillowcase
These fixes may seem obvious, but they can make a big difference when it comes to staying cool while you sleep, says Dr. Quimby. The trick is to climb into bed a little bit chilly. Keep a fan by your bed or end your evening shower with a blast of cold water. Or simply pop your pillowcase in the freezer for a few hours before turning in. Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found chilling your neck lowers your core temperature 250% more efficiently than cooling any other part of your body. (Click through to see the best pajamas for blocking night sweats.)
3. Swap your spices
Changing things up in the kitchen can help tame night sweats. “Common triggers that can increase hot flashes and night sweats include alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods,” says Dr. Lowry. Removing these from your diet (or even simply curbing your intake) for a few months may reduce stubborn sweating. Worried about missing out on your favorite spicy flavors? Instead, season dishes with cumin, garlic, ginger and black pepper. They add a tasty kick without upping your body temperature. (Click through to see the best ways to keep garlic fresh for longer.)
To tame odors from sweating during menopause
1. Use an antiperspirant deodorant
“Switching up your deodorant to something different can often help if you’ve been using the same brand for some time,” says Dr. Quimby. This could be the case for a few reasons. First, you may have simply become “nose-blind” to your go-to deodorant, so a new scent may be enough to mask odor. (Click through to discover the best natural deodorants for women over 50.)
Second, you may only be using a deodorant when you actually need an antiperspirant deodorant, which is what Dr. Quimby recommends. The difference: Deodorant masks odor, while antiperspirants contain ingredients that actively work to block sweating. Look for a clinical strength deodorant for best benefits, since they’re both deodorants and antiperspirants, and apply before bed rather than in the morning. This allows the product time to sink in and “plug” your sweat ducts.
2. Pre-swipe with apple cider vinegar
Before swiping on deodorant, spritz your underarms with apple cider vinegar (the scent will evaporate). A study in Nature found that apple cider vinegar blocks bacteria from breeding, getting rid of stink-making microbes. And separate study found that apple cider vinegar may even enhance deodorant’s antibacterial effects, helping you smell fresh up to twice as long. (Click through to our sister site to see 10 more smart uses for apple cider vinegar.)
3. Layer with natural fabrics
While your instinct may be to wear fewer articles of clothing if you anticipate sweating, layering is a better bet. First, during the chillier months, adding a layer or two beneath your chunky sweater means that if you do start to sweat you’re able to remove it.
Second, you can make sure that the layer closest to your skin is made with natural fabric, like 100% cotton or bamboo. These fabrics will pull moisture away from your skin so you aren’t damp and sweaty — and transmitting unpleasant odor — for hours.
What can you do if nothing else works?
If you feel as though the above natural remedies aren’t cutting it, there are a few other more intensive options. The first is underarm Botox, a treatment Dr. Quimby suggests discussing with your dermatologist. Botox in the underarms is an FDA-approved treatment (meaning it will likely be covered by health insurance) for excessive sweating. It blocks the nerve signals that instruct sweat glands to become active and produce sweat. In one study, patients who received this procedure one time were sweating 80% less three months later.
The second option is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). “One of the most effective methods for treating the root cause of body odor, which is imbalanced hormones levels and sweating, is HRT,” says Dr. Lowry. HRT will correct your declining estrogen and progesterone levels, helping your body better regulate its temperature so you won’t sweat as much.
While HRT has been found to improve symptoms of menopause, including a 77% reduction in hot flash frequency, it also comes with some risks. These include potential increases in your chances of developing breast or endometrial cancer, blood clots, or stroke. “I recommend that you work with a women’s health doctor to discuss the risks, benefits, and the potential side effects to decide what is right for you,” Dr. Lowry says. (Click through to our sister site to learn if hot flashes return after stopping HRT.)
Read on for more ways to outsmart bothersome menopause symptoms:
- Cut UTIs With Hibiscus — Plus 4 More Natural Menopause Cures From Around the World
- 13 Best Menopause Pajamas for Night Sweats to Keep You Cool All Night Long
- A Doctor’s Advice: ‘Does Menopause Raise Cholesterol?’
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.