The body has two different kinds of sweat glands: eccrine glands, which cool the body with perspiration, and apocrine glands, which are triggered by emotional stimuli. Eccrine glands are found all over the body. Apocrine glands are found where there is an abundance of hair follicles, including the head, groin and armpits. Apocrine glands are more likely to produce an odor because of their locations and the bacteria and dirt that can easily accumulate there.
Each person has her own scent, but changes in hormone levels can affect body chemistry and alter personal odor. Over the course of one month, female hormones change, leading up to menstruation and ovulation. These hormone changes affect the entire body, including the internal thermometer and blood vessel dilation in the skin, all of which can have an impact on body odor. Body odor is also affected by normal fluid discharge, common in women during the menstrual cycle and ovulation.
Perspiration and Bacteria
Although perspiration is virtually odorless, when it comes into contact with bacteria on the skin it can produce an unpleasant odor, according to the Mayo Clinic. People can be prone to body odor if they do not shower often enough to rid themselves of odor-causing bacteria. The sebaceous glands, which secrete oil, are triggered for the first time during puberty, so while bathing a few times a week may work for a child, a teenager will find that showering seldom can lead to a bad smell. Obese individuals may also develop body odor if they cannot reach areas of their bodies while washing.
Deodorant helps eliminate body odor by making the skin acidic, an uninhabitable environment for bacteria. Fragrances added to deodorant also masks odors. Deodorant will not, however, stop perspiration.
Some foods and medications can affect body odor. Hot beverages and spicy foods can cause sweating, and when combined with dirt and bacteria, this causes or exacerbates body odor. Some foods, such as garlic, are also secreted through pores. When these are combined with sweat, body odor results. Alcohol, when consumed in abundance, is secreted through pores and will cause an unpleasant scent.
Morphine, aspirin, acetaminophen and thyroid medications cause perspiration. People with low blood sugar, caused by diabetes for example, can sweat profusely.