Your Body Odor May Be A Sign Of Hormonal Changes

Hormones, produced by glands in the endocrine system, help regulate the body's functions. They travel through the bloodstream to various body parts, per the Cleveland Clinic. Hormones play a vital role in many processes in the body. For example, hormones such as testosterone and estrogen help regulate growth and development during puberty and throughout life (via Frontiers). According to the source, they also play a role in the reproductive process, including the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. Other hormones, such as the thyroid hormones, help regulate metabolism, which is the process by which the body converts food into energy (via EndocrineWeb).

Hormones work together in a delicate balance to maintain homeostasis, or the body's natural state of balance. When the balance of hormones is disrupted, it can have some consequences (via the Cleveland Clinic). For example, hormonal changes can sometimes be a factor in body odor. If you are concerned about body odor caused by hormonal imbalances, you must speak with a healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause and recommend any necessary treatment.

How do hormones affect body odor?

According to MedicalNewsToday, body odor is typically caused by the breakdown of sweat by bacteria on the skin. The sweat produced contains proteins and other substances that, when broken down by bacteria, can produce a distinct odor.

Hormonal changes can also affect sweat production which can influence body odor, says the Cleveland Clinic. For example, during puberty, the body produces more hormones, which can increase sweat production and lead to a change in body odor (via Healthline). Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also affect body odor. Women going through menopause might also experience excessive sweating, which might trigger changes in body odor, per MedicalNewsToday. When the balance of hormones in the body is disrupted, the hormonal imbalance can also lead to changes in body odor. For example, an overproduction of thyroid hormone can cause body odor changes. However, while hormones can play a role in body odor, they are not the only factor.

Other factors that influence body odor

Several other factors can also influence body odor, including diet, hygiene, and medical conditions.

Certain spicy foods or those with strong odors might trigger body odor. Also, according to the Cleveland Clinic, some foods contain high levels of sulfur, which can produce a strong odor in sweat. These include garlic, onions, cabbage, and broccoli. 

Poor hygiene, such as infrequent showers or not washing clothes regularly, can also contribute to body odor (via Healthline). As mentioned earlier, body odor is typically caused by the breakdown of sweat by bacteria on the skin — not washing your clothes often or having infrequent showers might cause a build-up of bacteria on clothes and skin.

Some medical conditions — such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or infections — can cause changes in body odor. For example, a kidney or liver disease can cause a bleach-like smell while diabetes might give you a fruity odor (via the Cleveland Clinic). Skin infections can cause an unusual odor as well, per Healthline.