Is your sense of smell changing? You’re not alone, perimenopause could be the reason

August 25, 2023.

A perry sister recently posted in our perry community.

OMG peri sense of smell. Same laundry detergent and softener as always. All the sudden all my clothes smell like cat piss.

perry sister, 45 in the perry community

Let’s dive into the science of changes of sense of smell in perimenopause.

The Sense of Smell in Perimenopause: What is Happening?

Have you been noticing a change in your sense of smell lately? If you’re in your late thirties or forties and are experiencing other symptoms of perimenopause, this could be yet another sign of this transitional phase. You’re not alone, and it’s entirely normal. Let’s delve more deeply into this intriguing symptom of perimenopause. 

The Relationship Between Perimenopause and Sense of Smell 

Perimenopause, that phase before the onset of full menopause, is a time of significant hormonal changes in a woman’s body. Estrogen levels fluctuate wildly, causing a wide variety of symptoms. These range from hot flashes and mood swings to more surprising ones, such as changes in your sense of smell. 

So, how exactly does this happen? Well, evidence from several studies suggests that our sense of smell is highly influenced by our hormonal state. Strong, the hormone that regulates ovulation and menstrual cycles, is believed to have a significant impact on how we perceive scents. When estrogen levels dip during perimenopause, this can alter your olfactory senses. 

“When estrogen levels shift, this can alter the way the olfactory system functions, leading to changes in how women perceive certain smells.”

What Kind of Changes Can You Experience? 

Each woman’s experience with changes in smell during perimenopause can be different. For some, smells can become more intense. You may find that fragrances you once loved now seem overpoweringly strong. Or perhaps, foods you used to enjoy now have an off-putting smell. 

On the other hand, some women find that their sense of smell becomes less acute. Scents that you could easily detect before might become less noticeable or disappear altogether. It’s a highly individual process and can be quite disconcerting, especially when added to the mix of other perimenopausal symptoms.   

Related: Join 15k+ women in the same phase of life in our leading perimenopause app

What Can You Do About It? 

First and foremost, it’s important to know that changes in your sense of smell, while disconcerting, are a normal part of perimenopause. They’re not something to be overly worried about. However, if the changes are causing you significant distress or affecting your quality of life, it’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider. 

Common Smell Changes and Their Causes

Have you ever walked into your kitchen, excited for your morning cup of coffee, only to be greeted by an aroma that’s off-putting? Or perhaps you’re suddenly repulsed by the scent of a perfume you’ve loved for years? If you’re nodding along, you might find it comforting to know that you’re not alone. Changes in smell sensitivity are a common occurrence during perimenopause, and it’s perfectly normal. But what causes these changes? 

In the perimenopausal phase, fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen, can lead to changes in our senses, including smell. Estrogen is known to influence our olfactory system – the part of our brain responsible for smell. When levels of this hormone fluctuate, it can make the smells more intense, less intense, or even downright unpleasant. 

Has anyone experienced a change in their natural body odor? I feel like if a dog sniffed me he would bark twice for “you’re dying”. It’s gotten very musky. Is that what hormones smell like? I stopped alllllll drugs (hrt, painkillers, etc not cocaine or meth or anything like that) and I’m trying to live a bit cleaner but the smell man. WTF?

A perry sister, in the perry app

The following are common changes in smell during perimenopause and their underlying causes: Many women report a heightened sense of smell during perimenopause, often noticing scents that they had never been aware of before. This is due to fluctuations in estrogen levels, which can affect your olfactory system and enhance your perception of smells. Conversely, some women experience a decrease or complete loss of smell, a condition known as anosmia. This is often temporary and usually resolves on its own. Changes in smell can also be a side effect of hot flashes or night sweats, common symptoms of perimenopause. It’s important to note that while these changes can be disconcerting, they are a normal part of the transition into menopause.

Perimenopause and Heightened Sense of Smell: What You Need to Know

Does your morning cup of coffee suddenly smell more pungent? Or perhaps the scent of your favorite perfume now turns your stomach? If you’re walking around feeling like you’ve turned into a bloodhound, you’re not alone. During perimenopause, many women report experiencing an exacerbated sense of smell, and you might be wondering why this is happening and what can be done about it. 

Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, during which the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. This phase can last a few years, and it’s marked by some rather interesting physiological changes – one of which is the heightened sense of smell. 

It’s almost as if your nose has taken on a life of its own, becoming more sensitive and responding to smells in ways it never did before. But why does this happen during perimenopause?

This sudden olfactory shift can be attributed to the fluctuating hormone levels in your body during perimenopause. Some research suggests that estrogen, in particular, can impact your sense of smell. So as your estrogen levels ebb and flow, your sense of smell might do the same. 

The Science Behind the Scent 

Our sense of smell, or olfaction, is a complex process. It begins when odor molecules enter your nose, traveling to olfactory receptors located on nerve cells in the upper part of your nasal cavity. These receptors send signals to your brain, which then interprets these signals as specific smells. 

In peri, does one have worsening bad breath? Or just a really keen sense of smell?! 🤣🥴

perry sister, 39 in the perry app

Research has shown that estrogen can affect these neural pathways. This hormone can influence the olfactory bulb, the area of the brain that processes scents. Changes in estrogen levels might therefore affect the sensitivity of these olfactory pathways, leading to an enhanced sense of smell. 

How to Cope with Heightened Sense of Smell 

If you’re finding this new superpower of yours a bit overwhelming, there are several strategies you can adopt: 

  • Avoid strong smells: If certain smells have become unbearable, it might be best to avoid them when possible. You might need to switch to unscented products or ask your loved ones to avoid wearing strong perfumes.
  • Practice deep breathing: Deep breathing exercises can not only help with stress relief but can also distract your mind from the onslaught of smells.
  • Consult your healthcare provider: If your heightened sense of smell is causing significant distress, it might be worth discussing with your healthcare provider. They can help determine if your symptoms are indeed due to perimenopause, or if there might be other underlying health issues at play.

In conclusion, a heightened sense of smell might be an unexpected side effect of perimenopause, but it’s certainly not an uncommon one. So, if you’re noticing a stronger nose these days, know that you’re not alone in this olfactory adventure. Understanding what’s happening in your body during this time and finding strategies to cope can help you navigate this phase more comfortably.

Perimenopause and Loss of Sense of Smell: What You Need to Know

Experiencing Changes in Your Sense of Smell During Perimenopause 

Have you recently noticed that your favorite perfume doesn’t seem as enchanting as it used to be? Or have you found yourself pausing and sniffing the air, only to find that you can’t pinpoint that familiar aroma wafting from your kitchen? This could be because perimenopause is impacting your olfactory senses. 

The Underlying Causes: Hormonal Shifts 

As you journey through perimenopause, your body undergoes a variety of changes due to fluctuating hormone levels. This hormonal roller coaster can stir up several unexpected effects on your body, one of which is an alteration in your sense of smell. Yes, indeed, changes in your olfactory function, or your ability to detect and identify odors, can be part of the perimenopausal experience. 

The Role of Estrogen 

So, why does this happen? The hormone estrogen significantly influences our sense of smell. As estrogen levels ebb and flow during perimenopause, our olfactory senses can become slightly imbalanced. You might start finding certain smells that once appealed to you now overwhelming or even repulsive. This might seem perplexing, but rest assured, you’re not alone in this experience.

Dealing with Changes in Sense of Smell During Perimenopause

As you navigate the winding path of perimenopause, you may come across some unexpected changes. One such change that many women experience but is often overlooked is a shift in your sense of smell. Yes, you heard right – perimenopause can indeed affect how you perceive different odors. 

But why does this happen? Well, like many other symptoms of perimenopause, changes in sense of smell can be chalked up to fluctuating hormone levels. Estrogen, in particular, has a significant role to play here. When your estrogen levels dip during perimenopause, it can lead to a diminished sense of smell. Conversely, a surge in estrogen can make your sense of smell sharper than usual. 

Now, you might be wondering, is this change in smell perception something to worry about? To that, we say, not necessarily. For most women, these changes are temporary and subside as hormone levels stabilize post-menopause. 

Managing Changes in Sense of Smell 

While these changes may be temporary, they can still cause discomfort. So, what can you do about it? Here are a few strategies that might help: 

  • Practice good hygiene: If you find certain smells more bothersome than others, maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene can help. Regularly cleaning your home and personal items can reduce unpleasant odors.
  • Nutrition: Certain foods can affect your body’s odor. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and consider reducing your consumption of processed foods, which can have strong smells.
  • Use unscented products: If strong scents from products like detergents, perfumes, or soaps bother you, consider switching to unscented versions.
  • Seek medical advice: If changes in your sense of smell are causing significant distress or are accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, it might be time to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and potential treatment options.

In conclusion, while changes in your sense of smell during perimenopause might seem strange, rest assured that it’s a relatively common experience. So, take a deep breath (pun intended), and remember, this too shall pass.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sense of Smell Changes in Perimenopause

As your journey through perimenopause unfolds, you might find yourself grappling with a variety of symptoms. Some are more widely recognized, like hot flashes or irregular periods. But, what about changes in your sense of smell? This may seem unusual, but you’re not alone. Many women going through perimenopause have questions about this unexpected symptom. 

Why does perimenopause affect my sense of smell? 

Perimenopause is a time of significant hormonal fluctuation as your body prepares for menopause. Estrogen, in particular, has a substantial impact on your sense of smell. As your estrogen levels fluctuate, so too might your olfactory sensitivity. Research has shown that a decrease in estrogen can lead to an increase in the sensitivity of your sense of smell. 

Is it normal to have a heightened sense of smell during perimenopause? 

Yes, it is entirely normal. Some women find that certain scents they were previously indifferent to become overpowering during perimenopause. This is due to the hormonal changes in the body. It’s also why you might suddenly find a particular food unappetizing, or why the scent of a certain perfume might now cause you headaches. Remember, these changes are a natural part of the perimenopausal process. 

Can this change in sense of smell affect my appetite or weight? 

Interestingly, yes. A heightened sense of smell can impact your sense of taste, which can, in turn, affect your appetite and eating habits. Some women find their appetite decreases due to increased sensitivity to food odors, while others might crave certain foods due to their heightened sense of smell. 

What can I do to manage this symptom? 

Firstly, rest assured that this change is temporary and will likely diminish as your body transitions into menopause. To manage in the meantime, consider the following strategies: 

  • Avoid strong-smelling foods and fragrances that trigger discomfort.
  • Utilize natural remedies like peppermint or lemon to cleanse your olfactory palate.
  • Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider, who can suggest further strategies or treatments.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. These changes, although unnerving, are part of the natural progression into the next stage of your life. Self-care, patience, and understanding are key.

Disclaimer: This is no medical advice

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