My goal is to help you create a lifestyle of positivity and possibility. I am smiling!

– Warmly, Honey

Our Body As We Age – Let’s Talk About Malodorous Aging

This article was written by Karen Harrow

Malodorous Caused by Aging

Malodorous caused by aging is an uncomfortable topic. You may need to read this more than you want to read this. I will not leave you in your discomfort without some practical solutions. I am not a medical professional so if in doubt, see your doctor. 

When my mother was around forty years old and I was in my teens she implored me to promise that when she got older I wouldn’t let her become a woman who “forgot her grooming.” She and I both knew exactly what she meant. A woman, who, as she ages, becomes less aware of her hygiene due to her lack of olfactory prowess. And by doing so, unknowingly offends those around her. 

While there are many reasons for loss of smell as we age, with many medical reasons to explain–nasal polyps, neurodegenerative disorders, allergies–it remains that we may not be the best judge of what smells less than fresh. Unless we make a concerted effort to know. As peri and menopausal women, we are confronted with actual reasons why we may smell badly, more readily than when we were younger. 

Let’s Talk About Clothing

As our peri or menopausal bodies sweat. No amount of deodorant can prevent our clothing from absorbing some of that moisture. It’s when that perfectly healthy sweat hangs out on that garment that bacteria forms and the scent turns from innocuous to obnoxious.

We head out to dinner for a couple of hours and wrongly assume our outfit is only gently worn. The fibers of our clothing may still hold the cooking odors of the restaurant and follow us, unpleasantly into our closets.

Solution: Air out, dry clean or wash your clothing even if you may have worn the item for a short time. 

Malodorous aging caused by expired perfume

Wearing Perfume

Our sense of smell dulls as we get older. Repeated exposure to our own perfume may render us nose blind. We may not realize that we have over spritzed or used perfume that has turned. Everything we encounter from car seat belt straps to the clothing of a friend we have hugged (pre-COVID) is reeking of our scent. 

Solution: Don’t hold onto perfume indefinitely. Over time, the chemistry turns a delicious scent into a rancid one. Keeping perfumes up to date is essential as well as a light touch. Using a one pump rule will prevent us from overdoing our favorite scent.

Take Care of Your Hair

Many of us have thinning hair. We may be afraid to wash it too frequently, for fear that we will lose more of it. Our scalps secrete oils and sebum. This natural smell can turn sour without washing. 

Solution: Use a gentle cleanser and handle your hair carefully in order to keep malodors at bay.

A Case of Bad Breath

We may all need a whole Brené Brown Ted Talk on shame when someone tells us we have bad breath. Gum disease, dry mouth due to medications, tonsil stones, failing dental work, negligent dental care, are all reasons for rancid breath. In addition, as we age, we don’t care if our love of garlic and onions leaves us with a bit of halitosis. We have earned the right to eat as we please. 

Solution: Regular visits to the dentist, tongue scraping, flossing, oxygenating mouthwashes, and a diligent diet will allow a more inviting environment. And if we know we are going to hang out with people that matter to us, we can lay off the offending foods before seeing those people in our lives that matter. 

Below the Waist Care

Our younger, full of natural lubrication vaginas were better equipped to handle daily bacteria. Our peri or menopausal selves can find a diminishment in our vaginal fluid which can cause dryness. Without that lubrication and balance of good bacteria to bad, our vaginas may harbor malodors. 

Solution: Try using natural oils like coconut oil, or an organic vaginal moisture replacement to keep things lubricated and comfortable both internally and externally. Fragrances or perfumes aren’t necessary and may cause more irritation than they are worth. 

A weaker bladder with unintentional dribbling creates a foul-smelling environment if ignored. 

Solution: A discreet panty liner or incontinence pad with a charcoal layer keeps bad smells at bay. Change them often.

An aging body may also include an aging butt landscape. Plain toilet tissue wiping isn’t as efficient as it used to be. A portable bidet of soapy water, wet wipes in our purses, and closer attention to detail are all viable, sustainable solutions. 

This is not a conversation I want to have frequently. I am happy to keep my promise to my 79-year-old mother if she needs me to do so. Now, if I can get my daughter to volunteer for the future job, I’ll be all set. 

Don’t be afraid to talk about uncomfortable topics such as malodorous caused by aging. Women need women to talk to about any and all things. Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page. 


Karen Harrow is a South Florida based fashion and lifestyle blogger:  You can hear her body-positive wardrobe advice on her podcast Harrowstyle, on all listening platforms.

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  1. This is a great topic especially now during the pandemic. I haven’t been to the hair salon since January, my husband has been doing my hair! Again no pedicure in over 6 months, I’ve gained 20 lbs I can’t lose and on and on. I told my husband yesterday that I feel like a giant slug. It’s a downward spiral, some days I don’t bother to get dressed, never mind shower. With the advent of September I’ve chosen the day after Labor Day to start yet another effort to diet hoping to reward myself with a trip to the salon after I’ve lost ten pounds.
    It’s hard to admit to ourselves that some of our bodily functions don’t work as well as they used to and trying to address the issue is often uncomfortable and embarrassing. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone.

    1. I know it is hard during these times. And, even harder to start a diet. It is mind over matter. Maybe look into taking a class with Chef AJ. I wrote about her on my Sunday Story. You won’t be sorry I led you to her. Now you have to push yourself to take the lead. Warmly, Honey

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