Female Hormone Imbalance and Body Odour

  • 1st Revision: Isobel Lester
  • 2nd Revision: Tamsin Rose
  • 3rd Revision: Conor Hodges [Linkedin]

We have all been there with a search string on Google that reads “pigmentation on face” or “missed my periods for three months”, or “experiencing hair loss and acne”. All of these concerns have one thing in common - hormone imbalance. In addition to this, hormone imbalance can also be a cause of body odour. In this article, you will learn more about female hormone imbalance, its causes and effects.

What is a hormonal imbalance?

Hormones are chemical compounds that are secreted in the endocrine organs to regulate our physiology, like growth hormones secreted during puberty for height, or to support internal body processes, like releasing insulin to control sugar levels.

When the hypothalamus signals some releasing and inhibiting factors that act on the pituitary glands, the pituitary glands release hormones that act on other parts of the body like apocrine glands or the pancreas, and together they constitute the endocrine system of the body.4 They play an important role and any deficits affect many or all processes in the body. 

A hormonal imbalance is where the body produces excessive or insufficient amounts of hormones. As hormones are involved in multiple body functions like regulating heart beat, circadian rhythm, digestive processes, body temperature, growth, and development, hormonal fluctuations can therefore result in myriad problems like:

  • headaches 
  • confusion 
  • diseases like diabetes 
  • reduced sex desire 
  • increased or decreased appetite 
  • irregular menstruation
  • excessive weight gain or loss
  • mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. 

Symptoms of hormone imbalance in females include: 

  • heavy, infrequent, or missed periods 
  • hair and acne on the face and body 
  • excessive sweating 
  • hair loss 
  • vaginal dryness and itching 

Hormone levels can be restored to normal levels non-pharmacologically through exercise, diet, and mindfulness techniques. However in some cases, doctors may prescribe medication depending on the underlying cause of the imbalance.

What causes hormone imbalances?

According to Byjus.com there are many conditions responsible for hormone imbalance, but the common causes include the following:

  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison's disease
  • Anorexia
  • Benign tumours on the endocrine glands
  • An underactive or overactive endocrine gland 
  • Medication like steroid medications 
  • Some physiological conditions like pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause, and aging 

Lifestyle and environmental factors are also another layer of factors that can disrupt normal hormone secretion and function. These can include:

  • stress
  • diet and exercise
  • air pollutants, such as allergens and toxins
  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • exposure to xenoestrogens like feminine care products

In a study in Pakistan, 127 females were asked to answer a questionnaire on female hormone imbalance. The results were the following:

  • 55% had irregular periods
  • 39% had excessive hair growth on face and body
  • 6% exhibited both of the conditions above

When accounting for the causes, 52.73% reported no reason, 21.26% reported experiencing depression, 24.41% attributed it to workload and 1.6% to both of these causes. 

Upon analysing the diet of these study subjects, the study revealed that 11% had junk food, 6.2% vegetarian, 14.96% had spicy food, and a majority 60.62% had all three.

Considering the form of treatment of the subjects, the study revealed that 59% were on no treatment, 26% of the females took antibiotics, 10.3% were undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and 4.75% were on both of these.3

Symptoms of hormone imbalance

The symptoms of hormonal imbalance experienced in both sexes include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Reduced or increased thirst 
  • Headaches,
  • Abnormal blood pressure 
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Changes in appetite

In people assigned female at birth, the main symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:

  • Irregular and infrequent periods, or heavy periods
  • Mental health symptoms like depression, fatigue, and anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Acne
  • Body or vaginal odour
  • Vaginal itching, dry skin, and rashes

Female hormone imbalance and body odour

According to healthline.com, female hormone imbalance typically occurs when estrogen levels are low during conditions like menopause.

Certain conditions can also cause hormone imbalance such as in diabetes, testosterone levels in women can be very high or polycystic ovary syndrome( PCOS), where androgen hormone levels are quite high.

These types of hormonal imbalance can cause frequent urination, vaginal dryness, vaginal odour, and increased facial hair. It can also increase sweat production from the sweat glands. Therefore, resulting in increased body odour.

When to see a doctor

It is important to keep the hormone levels in check as it is vital for all the body processes. 

Hormone level fluctuations are completely normal with the menstrual cycle, or during physiological changes such as pregnancy or menopause.

However, if you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned in this article such as excessive sweating, weight changes, bloating, and headaches uncorrelated with your menstrual cycle, it is important to seek medical advice.  


What causes excessive body odour in females?

Irregular functioning of reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone can result in excessive sweating from the sweat glands causing these odours. According to goodcleanlove.com, thyroid hormone malfunction can also cause excessive sweating in conditions like hyperthyroidism.

Impaired function of the adrenal glands can result in high levels of stress hormone called cortisol (being released in the blood stream), and when cortisol levels are perturbed, it can lead to excess sweating as well. As a result, night sweats, hot flashes, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infections are all sequential reactions that further increase vaginal odour. 

What are the signs of hormonal imbalance in women?

Hormonal imbalances in women can cause irregular periods, heavy periods, perimenopause, menopause, bloating, hair loss, extreme fatigue, excessive sweating, weight gain, mental health problems like anxiety and depression, night sweats, and breast tenderness.

In some cases like PCOS, it can cause facial hair and mood swings. It can also be responsible for reduced libido. Apocrine glands like the mammary glands and sweat glands are affected, and show up in symptoms as mentioned above.  

Can hormones cause bad body odour?

According to womeninbalance.org hormones can cause body odour. During the menstrual cycle, the levels of key hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, change. The abnormal hormone fluctuations of these key hormones result in aberrant menstrual cycles causing irregular periods. They can also affect apocrine glands and the sweat glands causing excessive sweating.

The pituitary gland signals for the ovaries to produce the reproductive hormones at an adequate level. Disruption in the optimum levels of these hormones such as a deficiency, can increase vaginal dryness, causing vaginal discharge and vaginal odour. The ovulatory phase is day 14 of the menstrual cycle, and hormone fluctuations can cause problems with ovulation or egg release in the female body, which can affect the way a female smells.

Can hormonal changes affect smell?

Hormonal changes can affect the olfactory systems as well. But in general hormonal problems can create stronger body odour. It is the body’s way of signalling for an abnormal endocrine system. It can create excessive sweating and make vaginal odours more prominent.  

Does progesterone make you smell?

Progesterone is a female hormone like estrogen and is a reproductive hormone. Any hormone fluctuation or hormonal imbalance is ready to set off body signals, which can lead to vaginal odour and increased sweating.2   

How do I get rid of hormonal body odour?

It is important to talk to the doctor if body odour does not go away on its own, or if you are struggling to manage it. An endocrinologist may recommend some lifestyle changes, medications, or in some cases hormone replacement therapies. It is also advisable to get good rest, maintain proper hygiene, eat healthy, and exercise to maintain hormone levels. Sometimes, the fear and anxiety associated with producing body odour can increase the olfactory system’s perception of general body odour and make us more aware of how we smell, so the problem may not be as bad as it seems.1


  1. Dalton, P. and Maute, C., 2018. Odours and incontinence: What does the nose know?. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 233(1), pp.127-134.
  2. Lobmaier, J., Fischbacher, U., Wirthmüller, U. and Knoch, D., 2018. The scent of attractiveness: levels of reproductive hormones explain individual differences in women's body odour. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1886), p.20181520.
  3. Safila Naveed, Sidra Ghayas, Asra Hameed ., 2015. Hormonal imbalance and its causes in young females. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, Volume 02, Issue: 01 (Jan - Mar), p12-16.
  4. Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Ph.D., and Andrzej Bartke, Ph.D. The Endocrine System An Overview. Alcohol health and research world, Vol. 22, No. 3(1998), p153-164.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Aarthi Narayan

Master of Science (M.S.), Biological science, University of Illinois Chicago

Scientist with 10+ years of strong industry, academic experience in Molecular biology, Tissue culture, Protein purification techniques. Mid-level experience in Diagnostics and start-ups. Excellent at completing large scale projects and experiments with minimal supervision in a timely and efficient manner.

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