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Persistent Body Odor

Q: I went through menopause when I was 40 and not long after that I developed a constant problem with body odor. That was four years ago, and since then I've tried every bath product on the market, but the smell is always there even while I'm in the shower! It's humiliating. I feel like an outcast at work, and I'm even ashamed around my own family. Can you help me?

Dr. Donnica:
I don't know if I can help you, but your doctor probably can. Many women who go through menopause have new or increased body odor problems, often related to increased or excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Bath products aren't as important to you as a strong anti-perspirant. Practicing good oral hygiene and eliminating fried or spicy foods, caffeine, and garlic from your diet may also help.

In many cases, this and other menopausal symptoms can be successfully treated with a low-dose estrogen preparation, so long as you don't have any specific contraindications, or reasons that you shouldn't be taking it. Excessive sweating can also be caused by anxiety, diabetes, or thyroid disorders, all of which can also increase in frequency after menopause, so a complete physical is in order. If excessive sweating is found to be the cause of your body odor problems and you can't take estrogen, other prescription medications are available to decrease sweating (e.g. Robinul or Ativan). Another alternative, albeit an expensive one, is to have Botox injections around your armpits. This may stop sweating for up to a year.

Created: 2/22/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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