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Menopause Guide

Alison Beaver

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ask: Do women smell different after menopause?

By Michelle King Robson Expert HERWriter
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Do any of you who have gone through menopause think you smell different than you did before? By that I mean the way your body smells to you, not that your nose is working differently. I always thought it was just me that felt this way, but tonight I read an article about someone else who thinks she also smells different now that she's post-menopausal.

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EmpowHER Guest

Hi - I've just found this discussion. I hope this helps somebody.
I noticed a strange smell during the latter stages of perimenopause - I've heard it variously described as like soy sauce, or salt & vinegar potato crisps, etc.
At first I thought it was a hygiene issue and I was mortified as nothing I did seemed to help. It went on for months and months. I used antibacterial soap, showered/bathed at least twice a day (paying OCD-like attention to cleaning my genital area!), but nothing helped. I knew I smelled weird and I knew other people could smell it too. It was horribly embarrassing, whether at work or in the supermarket.
One day, while shopping, I decided to try changing my washing powder and fabric conditioner. I could hardly believe that it worked! It really did.
I am 51 and haven't had a period for a year now, so I guess that means I've officially reached full menopause. I changed my powder and conditioner around 4 months ago and the result was almost instant. (I had to wash everything a couple of times to get rid of any residues from the previous products.)
Last week, my 'new' fabric conditioner was out of stock so I bought some of the old one. The smell came back immediately. This time I paid a lot more attention to what was happening and it was clear the odour was from all over, not necessarily the genital area. If I sat with my arms crossed for a short while (so that my hands were in contact with my cardigan) I found the backs of my hands smelled really strongly of the weird/bad smell. Especially during hot flushes.
I drove out of my way to buy some of the other brand and re-washed everything. The body smell went again.
I am a scientist, working in the field of chemical risk assessments and toxicology. It is my opinion that, for some of us at least, an adverse chemical reaction occurs between the chemicals on our skin during/after menopause, and the chemicals used in some brands of fabric conditioner.
My hormone balance has changed (obviously!) and the reaction is certainly adverse! The smell was soooo embarrassing!
I am in the UK. The fabric conditioner I was reacting to is sold here as Lenor, and is made by Proctor & Gamble. The conditioner I changed to is made by Unilever and called Comfort Pure. I found ingredient lists for each and they differ by a surprising amount. I can only surmise that one of the chemicals used in making Lenor is 'clashing' with the chemicals/hormones I emit these days, where it did not before.
If any of you recognise the description of the smell, please try doing this. I wouldn't wish the horrible smell on anyone. Everyone else thinks it's a hygiene issue and you get some strange looks from people and some people can even be heard commenting behind your back when they think you can't hear them.
I continue to use antibacterial soap to help deal with the sweaty smell from... well... sweating! These hot flushes are driving me nuts! But I'll stop as soon as I can because we are not helping ourselves by using too many antibacterial products.
Anyway - I hope someone else finds relief by changing products like I did. Remember to go for a different manufacturer, to increase the chances of the ingredients being different. In the UK, Comfort is a more expensive brand, but I can't begin to put into words how much it's worth paying the extra.
Good luck
From Helen

July 2, 2011 - 6:22am
EmpowHER Guest

I had vowed that, being of the hippie generation, I would take menopause naturally. It hit hard and sudden. Not sleeping for more than 45 minutes at a time because of 'hot flashes' was ruining my love life, my personality, and my job. If you know anything about sleep cycles you'd know why. It was NOT imagination or over reacting. I've always been a pretty mellow person. After 4 years of decreasing quality of life I was glad my gynecologist suggested hormone replacement therapy. It helped for a while and then my body adjusted and things were bad again. So, with the study that said HRT (with progesterone) led to breast cancer, I stopped taking it. Four years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. No family history whatsoever. No other risk factors except being female and over 50. And HRT. You do the math.

May 26, 2011 - 8:25pm
EmpowHER Guest

It is not as simply nor as easy to adjust to, as some persons appear to have been able to. Yes, I do agree that it is a change one has to learn to take into perspective, and accept as another phase of life. It sure would help to be able to help everyone around to understand just how it feels each day. Some days, all I want to do is just sit around with nothing to do, some days I just feel like pulling all my hair out! I does really get crazy and I can't yet deal with the body odor changes. I wish i could find those products that really help.

May 22, 2011 - 7:43pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I understand. I haven't personally tried but you might find some items by googling nonenal body wash or soap. Hope it helps :)

May 23, 2011 - 9:37am
EmpowHER Guest

I found that it's clinically proven that body odor changes with age, especially during or after menopause, due to weakened antioxidant on the skin and hormone changes. The odor phenomenon that changes body odor is called NONENAL. I'm 50 and notice my body odor change too. It's normal occurrence. I'm trying to find solution for Nonenal, but not found yet...

May 20, 2011 - 6:13pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Re: Nonenal: It's bacteria that is supposedly specific to mid life aging, or something like that. Mirai, a Japanese company, puts out a body wash and spray made with a certain type of pomegranate that washes away nonenal, when regular soap and water can't. I don't work for Mirai, or receive any benefit from promoting their products. I was intrigued enough by their claims that I decided to try it. I think it works great as a deodorizing soap,..but too much usage makes me feel a bit raw in the genital region. Btw, it's for men and women: apparently, men have a similar thing going on during middle age! Good luck!

August 30, 2012 - 5:35pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Sorry: Meant to say persimmon, not pomegranate !

August 30, 2012 - 7:23pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm so glad I finally ran across this post. I, too, noticed the change in my smell and thought it must be a figment of my imagination. I also blamed it, partly, on my disinterest in sex. If I was put off by my smell, surely my partner must also have noticed. I am 57 and have moved past the hot flashes (mostly) and am coming to terms with the changes in smell and have recently begun hormone therapy in the form of vaginal cream to combat the tissue degeneration and I hoped to rejuvinate my sex drive. I'm still holding out judgement on that last part. Maybe I hoped for too much?

May 20, 2011 - 10:16am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm not sure what you ladies mean by "coming to terms with the changes that come with menopause." Do you just accept it? Not being fertile is one thing but the profound physical changes that take place is another. It's not natural for us not to have any estrogen. That's why there is sudden bone lost and profound deterioration of the vagina and genital tissues. There needs to be active research into preventing menopause. You don't want your daughters and granddaughters to go through this. We need to start demanding that more medical research start being done.

May 19, 2011 - 7:41pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Preventing menopause? You can't prevent it anymore than you can prevent the sun rising and setting. We do this for a reason. No one is meant to be 21 years old forever. Yes, perimenopause has aspects that suck (such as fibroids and heavy periods) but there are some good things too. We just need to embrace the positive more. That's my plan and I'm 53. I can't take madroxyprogesterone acetate so I'm going natural...and embracing. No other choice, really...

May 18, 2014 - 5:14pm
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