The sudden appearance of a change of body odour can make you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and affect your self-esteem. Don't worry you are not alone.
It is common to experience increased body odour during perimenopause, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, that increase the amount and/or frequency that your body perspires.
Perimenopause is the period of time in your life when physiological changes take place which begin the transition to menopause. This period of time can be anywhere between 2-10 years before your "final period". You are considered to have reached menopause when you have not had a menstrual period for a full 12 months. The average age in the UK for women reaching menopause is 52.
Estrogen is responsible for helping regulate the hypothalamus, the part of the body that controls body temperature, consequently, when estrogen levels decline during menopause a false message is sent to the hypothalamus saying that the body is overheated. The hypothalamus takes action resulting in an increase in sweat production and changes in body odour.
Bodies produce two types of sweat both of which are odourless and remain that way until bacteria mix with it.
Eccrine sweat - produced by the eccrine glands, which are the main sweat glands of the body (located all over the body). The primary function of this type of sweat is to regulate body temperature.
Apocrine sweat - a thicker type of sweat produced in the groin, armpits, the areola of the nipples, mouth, feet and hair. Apocrine sweat is fatty sweat - the bacteria on your skin feed on the fatty components and it is these bacterial by-products that cause a change in body odour. We all have staph germs on our skin which is considered normal. This sweat is produced when you are feeling anxious, stressed or from exercise/physical exertion.
Although for most women of mid life years, erratic hormone fluctuations are the principal cause for a change in body odour, this change can be as a result of a medical condition.
In rare cases, body odour may accompany a life-threatening condition
Remember you are not the only woman to struggle with a change in body odour during perimenopause, so try to relax about it as stress makes you sweat and heat makes bacteria grow and spread.
Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause." November 2007.