Do you have a PCOS diagnosis and deal with bad body odor? If you do, you may be wondering if there is a correlation or causation to it.
I decided to do a deeper dive on this topic because I was curious myself. Stay with me if you are interested in reading what I found out!
Our sweat glands
When talking about body odor, information on sweat glands is imperative. So here goes…
There are three main types of sweat glands that humans have- eccrine, apocrine and apoeccrine. Here are some details about each of them:
- Eccrine- These glands are found all over the body except for on the lips, ear canals, foreskin, inner labia and clitoris. Their function is to produce the normal, thin type of sweat and to control the body’s temperature. They are the main cause of the sweat that forms on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and the forehead.
- Apocrine- These glands are found in the armpits, genital-anal area, belly button, ears, eyelids, nipples and parts of our nostrils. Sweat is produced by them in the hair follicles and is thicker than the sweat produced by the eccrine glands. Apocrine sweat causes odor when it mixes with bacteria on the skin and hair. The apocrine glands stay inactive until puberty starts.
- Apoeccrine- These glands are present where the apocrine glands are but produce more sweat than the other two glands. Just like the apocrine glands- they are inactive until puberty starts.
In regards to gender, women actually have more sweat glands than men do. The difference is that each of the glands that women have don’t produce as much sweat as men’s glands do. This is why women may feel like men sweat a lot-they typically do in comparison to them!
People might feel gross when they sweat but one should remember that it is an important thing that happens! It is helping to keep us cool, remove toxins and improve circulation.
While sweating is normal, there are conditions that cause abnormal amounts of sweat. Here are the conditions:
- Hyperhidrosis- This is when someone produces an excessive amount of sweat which is typically in the head, hands, feet and armpit area. It is said to affect around 4.8% of Americans. The condition affects men and women equally.
- Hypohidrosis or anhidrosis- This is when there is a minimal amount of sweating than what is normal (hypohidrosis) or none at all (anhidrosis). The exact rate of these is unknown but they are said to be very rare.
Causes of body odor
It is totally normal to have body odor once in a while as there is always bacteria on us. Not all bacteria are bad though and some are actually healthy for us to have-hence the use of probiotics.
In some cases, body odor is more of a problem for people. This could mean that the odor is particularly strong, smells more unusual than regular body odor and/or is hard to control. The following are causes of body odor issues:
- Infection of hair follicles and skin- If there is a lot of bad bacteria in the hair follicles, the sweat from the apoccrine glands will mix with it. This in turn will cause bad body odor until the infection is cleared.
- Type 2 diabetes- Too much glucose in one’s blood can cause a PH imbalance to occur. This imbalance can cause body odor.
- Obesity or excess weight- Being large can make you sweat more when you are doing physical things and any amount of sweat may get stuck in the skin folds you have. Both of these things can cause body odor.
- Hyperhidrosis- This is when you sweat excessively. The more you sweat, the higher the chances of body odor occurring are.
- Puberty- Going through puberty activates the apocrine sweat glands that lead to body odor.
- Diet- Low carb diets are said to possibly cause body odor. Eating things like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, onions, cumin, curry etc. can also cause it.
- Stress- Feeling stressed can cause one to sweat more- especially under our armpits. This is why you may feel like you reek during these times.
- Hormones- Hormonal fluctuations and imbalances can cause body odor to occur.
- Vaginal infections- An abundance of bad bacteria can cause body odor in the genital area.
- Gynecological tumors- These types of cancers cause abnormal and strong smelling odors.
- Ear infection- These infections can cause foul smells if left untreated.
- Hyperthyroidism- Body odor can occur with this condition due to the excess sweating it can cause.
- Excess hair- Having an excess amount of hair in certain areas means that more bacteria growth can happen. The more bacteria there are, the more odor there can be. Also, the hair will trap the odor and cause it to linger.
Can PCOS cause body odor, too?
Going by the list of body odor causes, you can see certain conditions that are common characteristics of PCOS. They are as follows:
- Obesity or excess weight- Weight problems are a common issue with PCOS. The excess sweating and the sweat being trapped into folds- may be part of the cause of body odor.
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes- These two are often comorbid conditions when it comes to PCOS. Because of this, body odor can occur.
- Excess hair- Having an excess amount of hair growth on one’s body is extremely common with PCOS. Like stated before, more hair means more bacteria growth.
- Hormonal issues- The whole diagnosis is a hormone issue! PCOS commonly causes excess levels of androgens. This in turn can cause body odor.
So based on the above list, it is safe to say that PCOS can be the cause of body odor. Another lovely thing to add to the pile!
Treatments for body odor
Regardless of what is causing the body odor, there are treatment options available. The following are some of them:
- Antianxiety/antidepressant medication- If you find yourself dealing with a lot of body odor due to mental health issues, these medications may help.
- Counseling- This may be able to help with mental issues that are causing the body odor.
- Antiperspirant + deodorant- It is a good idea to try a combo armpit products. This will cut down on the sweat and the body odor that it may cause.
- Prescription antiperspirants & deodorants- If you already are using an antiperspirant & deodorant product and it is not working well, a prescription one may be necessary.
- Botox- These injections are available for people who have hyperhidrosis on the armpits. They reduce the sweating which in turn reduces the odor.
- Sweat gland removal- This stops sweating which then reduces the body odor.
- Treating infections- If you have any type of infection that is causing body odor, it needs to be properly treated for the odor issues to go away.
- Good hygiene- Keeping yourself clean in general will help remedy body odor.
- Treating diabetes- It is important to treat diabetes and keep it under control. Doing this will also help body odor if that is the cause of it.
- Treating hyperthyroidism- If this condition is causing the body odor due to excess sweating- treating it may help.
- Changing up your diet- If the food you are eating is really making you stink, you may want to change things up. Like, maybe don’t eat curried broccoli for every meal.
My stinky experience + a remedy
I unfortunately suffer from stinky armpits. All of the sweating I do, is concentrated in that area.
It is bad.
Sometimes my pits will smell like cat urine before I take care of them. Other times they will smell like old soup. Both scents are disgusting.
I do believe that my stinky pits are due to my PCOS diagnosis. I have a feeling that my body reacts strongly to the testosterone level I am at even though it may be considered “normal.”
Over the years I have used many different deodorants and antiperspirants. Most of them either didn’t work that well or I had to apply them a lot during the day. In the past couple of years I have found a way to control the stink better and I wanted to share it with you guys!
Here is what I use and do for my stinky pits:
- 70% rubbing alcohol
- Peppermint essential oil (I swear I am not a crazy essential oil lady!)
- Jojoba oil (or another carrier oil)
- Roller bottle or a small cup
- Dry Idea AdvancedDry Unscented Antiperspirant & Deodorant Clear Gel (amazing stuff!)
- Body wash and baby wipes
- Wash your pits! Do this in the shower. If you are not taking a shower, use a baby wipe or a washcloth with soap on it. If you are using a washcloth with soap on it, make sure to rub your pits again with pure water.
- Let your pits dry. I put my arms over a fan but you can just air dry them.
- Spray your armpits lightly with rubbing alcohol. Wait for 30 seconds-1 minute.
- Prepare your diluted peppermint essential roll-on. You do this by mixing together one tablespoon of a carrier oil (jojoba, olive oil or sweet almond oil) with four drops of the essential oil. you can put this mix in a roller bottle or just a small cup (cover it and keep it around).
- Spread a thin layer of the oil mix on your armpits. Massage it in a bit and pat off the extra oil mix with a paper towel.
- Roll on the Dry Idea product.
This whole process has been wonderful for me and I am glad I found something that helps. I also started taking 100 mg of chlorophyll everyday as it is said to be an internal deodorizer.
Yes, PCOS can cause body odor
So, PCOS really can be to blame for one’s body odor issues along with a lot of other things. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and control it.
Have you had problems with stinky-ness? Let me know what you did to make it better!
Thanks for reading!
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