Body odor differs from person to person and in some cases it may be associated with an offensive smell. This may be linked to poor hygiene or excessive perspiration and can be complicated by hormonal changes. While the odor may be generalized, hence the term body odor, it can also be isolated to certain parts of the body, like the armpits or groin.
If there are other complications like an infection in the area, a strong body odor can quickly become offensive. Women are much more conscious about their physical characteristics and a smelly body odor can be a cause for anxiety, especially if it persists despite treatment and preventative measures.
During the course of a month, the female sex hormones fluctuate to coordinate events like ovulation and menstruation. The changes during the course of the menstrual cycle are not isolated to the female reproductive organs and may have a generalized effect across the body – affecting perspiration, heat tolerance and usual body odor. It also has localized effects – leading to vaginal discharge and triggering menstruation.
All these factors can affect normal body odor. It may cause or exacerbate excessive perspiration (hyperhidrosis) or offensive smelling perspiration (bromhidrosis), especially if good hygiene is not practiced. It may also affect temperature sensitivity and increase perspiration due to a change in heat tolerance and dilation of the skin blood vessels. While each person has their own specific scent, hormonal changes may also affect the body chemistry and alter this characteristic body odor.
While hyperhidrosis may be linked to individual temperature sensitivity and the nervous system, hormonal changes may also affect the extent of perspiration. By not practicing good hygiene, this increased perspiration can result in an offensive body odor or exacerbate an already foul body odor.
Body hair, particularly the thicker terminal hair which is present in the armpits and pubic region can further contribute to body odor in these areas. Vaginal discharge, sweat, urine and fecal matter tends to adhere to this hair aggravating the odor at these sites. Not bathing frequently or not trimming the pubic or armpit hair if necessary will exacerbate any offensive odor in the region.
Treating and Preventing Offensive Female Body Odor
If you are suffering with an offensive body odor, you should take conservative measures to manage and prevent the problem. Good hygiene by bathing at least twice a day and using a perfumed and an antibacterial soap will assist. If the odor tends to occur more in the areas where terminal hair is present, like the pubic hair or armpit hair, then trimming the hair and washing throughly in these regions are important. Antiperspirants may also help to some extent as they keep the area dry but should be avoided in sensitive areas or if there is any sign of a skin rash.
Medical conditions like infections or hyperhidrosis may require medical treatment. In the event of an infection, the causative organism should be identified – usually bacterial and sometimes fungal. An appropriate antibacterial or antifungal cream or gel may be used and in severe cases, an antibiotic or antifungal pill may be necessary. For hyperhidrosis, the treatment is not always as simple. Hyperhidrosis is usually a persistent condition that does not respond well to drugs and even surgery may offer limited relief. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor in order to manage your condition appropriately.
It is also important to consider the causes of a smelly vaginal odor as this may be contributing to foul odors isolated to the groin region. If there are any signs of vaginal irritation with discharge, your doctor will need to identify the cause and implement the appropriate treatment in order to relieve the condition. Other medical disorders may also contribute to a body odor and this may require proper treatment and management in order to address the problem. If you body odor has reached a point where it is offensive to the extent that it is affecting your daily functioning, social interaction or self esteem, then you should discuss the matter with a doctor.
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