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Why has my natural scent changed during perimenopause?
Toni Golen, MD,
Contributor; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing, and
- Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Ask the doctors
Q. As I get closer to menopause, I’m noticing my own body odor even though I haven’t changed my hygiene habits. What’s going on?
A. Perplexing, isn’t it? But many women report stronger body odor as they transition to menopause, with several possible explanations.
First, it’s important to keep in mind that our sense of smell can change during perimenopause, making us think we stink even if we don’t. Beyond that, profuse perspiration from hot flashes and night sweats can nourish underarm bacteria, leading to more body odor. The menopausal drop in estrogen also leaves our bodies with relatively higher levels of testosterone — produced by our ovaries in small amounts — than before. This can attract more bacteria to sweat, making it smell funkier.
Your best defense is to keep bathing regularly and using high-quality deodorant or antiperspirant. Also, stay hydrated to offset fluid loss from sweating. If you’re still concerned, or if you notice a strange new scent, talk to your doctor.
— Toni Golen, M.D., and Hope Ricciotti, M.D.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Image: © triocean/Getty Images
About the Authors
Toni Golen, MD,
Contributor; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Menopause and Perimenopause: Taking charge of the transition
Perimenopause is the long transition that precedes menopause. During this stage, your periods may become irregular and you may experience hot flashes and other changes.There are many things you can do to get through “the change” in the best shape possible. This guide will help you better understand the biological factors that underlie perimenopause and menopause and the symptoms you may experience. We’ll provide options on how to manage this change and offer advice about steps you can take now to ensure your long-term health.
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