Sense of smell & body odour changes during menopause

Eileen Durward

22 May 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I am going to talk about smell and smells.

Now this is little bit of a strange one, but it is really common in the menopause. And there's two kind of main parts to it. The main reason for this though is that your falling oestrogen is to blame. It's behind most of the things that go on here.

Changes to your sense of smell

The first thing that can happen is that you can become more aware of smells around you. Your sense of smell can become a lot more acute. Now this can mean that you start to smell things that you never noticed before. You might be walking down the street or in your back garden and suddenly, you can smell the flowers or smell other things in the air.

It can also mean that you start to dislike some smells or they become too strong for you. And it's amazing how many women actually say, "I can't stand my perfume anymore. I can't stand my body creams. I can't stand the smell of washing powder." So there can be a point where things that you used to really love and enjoy, are now making you maybe feel a bit nauseous or you just think, "Oh, that's absolutely horrible." 

Changes to your own body odour

The other thing that can happen is that you can become much more aware of your own body smells, and this can be quite disconcerting because it's amazing how many women say, "I feel as if I'm smelling all day and it's really upsetting me and it's making me feel really uncomfortable because I feel that everyone else is thinking that I smell too." So that is the first thing.

Vaginal changes

The second thing that can happen is that some of our body liquids, if you like, can start to smell. So the main change is often in the vaginal area. Now, your estrogen actually triggers the cervix to produce the mucus in the vagina, and as your estrogen levels fall in the menopause, the production of mucus can change, and that change can either cause dryness or for some women it can actually increase the lubrication, and they get really worried because they feel they're almost like having little mini periods or they're wetting themselves quite a lot. 
The other thing that can happen is that this change in vaginal mucus can change the balance of friendly bacteria in the vagina, and that can then change the smell. So with the vaginal fluids, you might find that the amount changes, you might find the color changes, the smell changes, and the consistency changes as well. Very often, there may be a little bit of an underlying infection because in the menopause we become much more vulnerable to infections such as thrush.

So if your vaginal mucus changes quite quickly, especially if there's an odor or there's a real big change in color, it is a good idea just to get this checked out by your doctor. But in most instances, a specific vaginal probiotic usually does the trick, and it's worth trying that to start with too. 

Underarm sweat

The other main area where we sweat from is under the arms. And this is the one that very often causes us a lot of discomfort and distress because we can be sitting there, quite happily, doing our job, and then think, "Oh, I can smell myself. I can smell my sweat." Now remember, in the menopause, especially if you're getting hot flushes or night sweats, you're going to sweat more anyway, but in the menopause, certain things can happen.

One is that falling estrogen can affect the balance of bacteria on our skin, so that can have an effect on the smells that we produce under our arms. And one of the other interesting facts is that the menopause can stress the liver. The menopause can also slow down our digestive system, so our bowels can become a little bit sluggish or we can end up with constipation. And when these things happen, the body has to find other ways of getting rid of toxins, and one of the places happens to be under the arms.

So if you're detoxing a bit more under the arms, you are giving those bacteria there an extra feed or two during the day. And that's the reason why even if you're using antiperspirants or deodorants, you can start to smell a bit more, a bit quicker, in the day. 

What you can do to reduce under arm odour

So, what do you do in this particular instance? If you're getting a bit more smelly under the arms and you haven't changed your deodorant or your antiperspirant, if you're getting bloating, digestive discomfort or even a bit of constipation, you might find that taking something like Milk Thistle Complex for a month or two can make a difference, because by supporting your liver, you can help with detoxification and elimination, and it can make things a bit easier in that way as well.

The important thing here is not to keep washing yourself three or four times a day because that can seriously disrupt the balance of friendly bacteria under the arms, but you might find that you need to use a slightly stronger deodorant.  

The problem with antiperspirants

Now, the really important thing here is, the underarms are one of the primary areas where our body sweats in order to maintain our body temperature. So if we're going through the menopause and we're getting hot flushes and sweats and you use antiperspirants, you are stopping that area, underarms, from doing the job it's supposed to do, and that can lead to problems elsewhere.

And it's quite interesting, in that if you seriously block the underarms, you can end up with smelly feet. So there is a link between the two. So using a nice natural deodorant can very often make a huge amount of difference because you are allowing the underarms to breathe, to sweat properly, and that in turn can very often help to control the level of bacteria under your arms that tend to cause all the different smells.

Natural deodorants I recommend...

If you are looking for a natural deodorant to try I highly recommend the Salt of the Earth range from Crystal Spring, which I use myself. They contain natural minerals which are odour inhibiting and provide long lasting protection.

As well as their popular unscented deodorant spray and classic crystal stick, they also have several scented deodorants, including their Pure Aura deodorants, which are available in two fragrances - Lavender & Vanilla and Melon & Cucumber.

Smelly feet

Now, the other thing that can happen here is that, as I mentioned before, sometimes you can just get smelly feet on their own. You might not necessarily have any problems with your underarms.

So it's important to allow your feet to breathe, and I have talked about this before. It's important to try and go barefoot at some point during the day, if you can. If you are sweating a lot with your feet, especially if they are smelling a little bit, then again, try the Milk Thistle Complex. Also make sure that you're not wearing nylon socks or man-made fibers because they will stop your feet from sweating as well. 

Vaginal Freshness

Oh, and one thing which I forgot. For vaginal freshness, remember to always wear cotton underwear. And again, don't wash yourself too often. We get ladies who are literally washing themselves every time they've been to the toilet. This will really disrupt the friendly bacteria in the vaginal area. So it's important not to go overboard here.

And I really would not recommend any of the vaginal deodorants that you can get. A lot of them have chemicals in them which might actually make things a lot worse.

Remember, changes in smell are really common

So, just to remind you, the change in sense of smell is really common. You being able to smell your own body functions more, is common. And very often, you might be the only one to smell this. So if you start to find that you're getting a bit paranoid about smelling, maybe ask your nearest and dearest if they can smell you too, and very often, they'll say "No," and in which case you know that it's just your nose being that little bit more sensitive.

And remember too, as I mentioned before, that sweating is a natural body process and we do need to do it to keep our temperature in balance, which is more than important during the menopause and also to help with detoxification too.
So I hope you find this an interesting one. I mean, I must admit it's one of my most favorite ones. And I will look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.


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  • Micheala 's photo avatar
    Micheala — 24.09.2017 07:59
    Hi At the beginning of the year I started to notice smells more frequently to the point that even going to the fridge or cupboard or even the supermarket I could not stand the smell of any kind of food. This got so bad I lost a stone in weight as I then suffered from nausea and could not eat. My doctor gave me sickness tablets but it took a while before I got back to normal. Is it possible this was menopause related. Thank you, your blogs are great and are really helping me.


    • Micheala 's photo avatar
      Micheala — 25.09.2017 21:15
      Smells associated with menopause


    • Eileen's photo avatar
      Eileen — 26.09.2017 11:58
      Hi Micheala, Yes our sense of smell can be affected during the menopause due to the shift in hormone levels. Did the medication work for you? Are you still losing weight and what is your digestive system like in general? you can answer me privately in the dialogue box, thank you


    • micheala's photo avatar
      micheala — 26.09.2017 15:04
      Hi Eileen Yes the tablets worked eventually and I am back to my normal weights again. The only thing is I never get that hungry feeling anymore I eat because I know it's breakfast, lunch then tea. My digestive system is not good and I also suffer from IBS.


    • Eileen's photo avatar
      Eileen — 27.09.2017 14:29
      Yes I think it would be worth supporting the stomach and the gut here. Try Milk thistle complex before meals (so we get the bitterness but also supporting the liver) and Molkosan for the IBS – it might also be worth looking at Optibac as they have a range of probiotics that might help. 


  • Helen Mann 's photo avatar
    Helen Mann — 13.07.2017 06:26
    I have been getting constant headaches which weekly have been turning into migraines, so I booked an appointment with my gp (due to go tomorrow). Since taking your supplement these are now less severe and they have stopped/reduced my flushes. I have been drinking a lot more water but because of having Crohns disease and diverticulitis amongst other things diet change is almost impossible. Not sure whether to see GP still or not as on enough medication as it is. I have noticed strange smells now too so this subject was good! I have started using a crystal deodorant too which seems to be more effective than normal deodorants.


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 13.07.2017 13:23
      Hi Helen Great to hear that the Menopause Support is helping you! I would still see your doctor, getting a general check up in the menopause is a good idea. Just make sure that they offer to test your, iron, thyroid, vitamin D (really important as this is often not included!) and B12 levels, all of these can creep into the menopause and cause menopause-like symptoms.


    • Helen's photo avatar
      Helen — 21.07.2017 10:07
      I saw the doctor and he is not sure that the headaches are menopause related, however my nurse does! GP has given me propranolol to try for a month. Have requested all the blood tests, however cannot have a vitamin D test without a referal other areas do it but for some reason mine don't. Have noticed that am getting exhausted a lot recently, and getting an awful lot of spots, is this usual?


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 21.07.2017 10:07
      Hi Helen Strange they won't do the vitamin D! Yes, fatigue and spots are both common. The hormonal changes going on can really drain you of energy so it is important to try and get plenty of rest to allow your body to re-energise and re-balance. Spots often indicate that your liver is a bit stressed with all the hormonal changes going on too so you may find taking Milk Thistle Complex for a month or two can help with this. As you have Crohn's start off with 10 drops twice a day and see how you get on. The menopause can also put extra stress on the digestive system as well.


  • Karen 's photo avatar
    Karen — 16.06.2017 22:19
    I get severe headaches from smells. I have tried all kinds of headache medications, Xanax for anxiety I really learned a lot from your you tube sessions. I would really like to find a more natural way to deal with all of my menopause symptoms which I have a lot of. I am 53 years old. I get night sweats and wake up soaking wet. I have headaches EVERY morning. I did not associate this with the loss water. I do drink a lot of water during the day but I am going to drink more also add magnesium to my vitamins. I also get severe crying spells out of no where. I do have a lot of stress caring for my elderly mother. It is very hard to take care of myself. I am on a low dose of Prempro for hormone replacement but gynecologist does not take my symptoms seriously. All of these symptoms have greatly impacted my life. I am glad I found this website to discuss all of these issues.


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 19.06.2017 10:23
      HI Karen Great to hear that you are finding the website helpful. These are common menopause symptoms and if you have added day to say stress it is not surprising you are feeling so low. Definitely try the water, a small shot glass of warm water before bed is often helpful, and magnesium is good for just about everything! I would also suggest a combination of our Menopause Support (to help with oestrogen levels) and sage tablets to help with the flushes, both of these are fine with your HRT. Caring for yourself is really important although I know this can be one of the hardest things to do if you are caring for other people but even 15 min on your own, eyes closed and deep slow breathing can be of help.


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