Husband’s odd odor
November 23, 2019 3:36 AM   Subscribe

My husband’s body odor has changed all of a sudden in the past few months. Not just his sweat but his daily personal smell. It’s a little rancid, like sour metal. Doesnt seem to be his breath but his entire body odor. It’s not the usual smell of B.O. When I bring this up with him he is offended. But honestly I don’t even want to kiss him anymore. It’s an unappealing smell. He has not changed habits recently. Diet, exercise and hygiene are all the same as usual. What the hell is this smell?? How can I get him to see a doctor about it?
posted by Jason and Laszlo to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It can be a bunch of different things (from basically nothing at all to very serious things) and is worth getting checked out by a doctor. Most of the serious stuff it wouldn't be the only symptom. Sudden change that persists can mean something OR it could be that his soap changed formulation (or some other random, inconsequential unnoticed change)

In regards to getting him to the doctor have you asked him to go? He is an adult and can make his own decisions about going, but you have concerns you have to let him know that or is there. Maybe you can bribe him into it somehow if he is unconcerned?
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:15 AM on November 23, 2019

Ok, this might sound weird. But the first thing that came to mind was a story I read about a woman that can smell Parkinson's disease. I am not suggesting your husband has that, it's early stages, but a change in odour could be indicative of some other underlying problem. Your sensitivity might be more than just a close proximity to him. You could be a super sniffer.

I would sit him down and talk carefully about it. It could just be a body chemistry change because he changed washing gel or something. Also, I remember hearing years ago that if you use the same alkaline mouthwash for a long time, it can change your mouth chemistry, so it was recommended people change up their mouthwash occasionally. Perhaps he has been doing the same thing for so long that his body switched?

Anyway. Talk. And do some carefully googling. Then maybe go to the doctor.
posted by 0bvious at 4:16 AM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Changes in medication and certain medical conditions can cause you to be much more sensitive to scents so if that is a possibility he may not have changed but now you notice. Probably unlikely
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:18 AM on November 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

He needs to go to a doctor if only to rule out anything serious, like liver or kidney disease, especially since this has been going on for a few months.
posted by poppunkcat at 4:33 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

My husband’s smell became distinctly different and unpleasant just before he was diagnosed with diabetes. He also refused to go to the doctor - when I finally forced him through tears and pleading he was told he was on the verge of falling into a coma within a few days. So, yes, get him to the doctor. I hope all will be well and you can move on to other possible causes like soap etc.
posted by saucysault at 5:14 AM on November 23, 2019 [30 favorites]

The sour metal smell is so descriptive I had to venture a guess. Maybe your husband has taken on a new medication maybe some antifungal that mixes with his body chemistry. Or goes longer between showers than he let's on. The only other thing it might be could be a workout program that doesnt include clean shorts.
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 5:23 AM on November 23, 2019

Just to rule it out - are you sure nothing has changed with you? Are there any other smells in your life / other people that used to smell one way and now smell another?
posted by true at 5:35 AM on November 23, 2019 [18 favorites]

Just to rule it out -

Yes, and is there anyone else who has detected the change, a friend, a co-worker? A person's sense of smell can change for various reasons.
posted by JimN2TAW at 5:42 AM on November 23, 2019

Specifically, did you go on or off birth control? Birth control can alter scent preferences for a partner. (Scholar Google this 2008 article if you're curious: MHC-correlated odor preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives.)
posted by shadygrove at 6:14 AM on November 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

My first thought was diabetes, but Dr Google says it could be something more severe like kidney disease. I feel like this is a known issue, I've definitely heard about it before. Take him to the Dr.
posted by Toddles at 6:43 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

the poster is "mostly male" according to their profile, just fyi
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:52 AM on November 23, 2019

I would actually suggest you get yourself checked too as your own scent sensitivity could have changed.

Any chance your partner is dealing with anxiety? Adrenaline makes the sweat and breath smell bad.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:54 AM on November 23, 2019

Any chance your partner has a fungal infection?
posted by Murderbot at 9:03 AM on November 23, 2019

Yeah, my first thought was that it can actually be a change in your own sense of smell, mostly due to the "rancid metal" analogy.
posted by M. at 10:04 AM on November 23, 2019

I would talk to him about it, avoiding the part where it's an unpleasant smell, and emphasizing the see a doctor part. As in This is really worrying me, I want to be sure you are well. Please, please get checked up. Signs of Diabetes.
posted by theora55 at 10:07 AM on November 23, 2019

My husband smelled awful to me when he had VERY low testosterone.
posted by catspajammies at 10:09 AM on November 23, 2019

Please consider having your husband go for a full physical including an A1C test for diabetes, because I know someone whose body scent changed distinctively when diagnosed with diabetes.
posted by Lynsey at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2019

Another possibility: use of topical steroids for skin-related conditions.
posted by megatherium at 6:36 PM on November 23, 2019

Would he be more willing to go to the doctor if you both made appointments to get a check up? You can write it off as: *something* has changed and it's impacting our sex life and driving me nuts - let's figure out what's going on. Maybe it's him, maybe you - so both go to the Dr.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:47 AM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I came home from the hospital after being treated with IV antibiotics due to a ruptured appendix, both my husband and son smelled metallic and just not right. It disappeared after a few weeks.
posted by Arctostaphylos at 12:51 AM on November 24, 2019

Oh and don't phrase it as an objective "you smell bad". Qualify it: "you smell different *to me * and it isn't pleasant". Now, it's a bit more maybe it's him or maybe it's your sense of smell... he can save face. Regardless, it's a big problem *to you* and he loves you so surely he can humor you by getting it checked out...
posted by jrobin276 at 12:51 AM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also definitely think you should figure out a way to get him to the doctor, even if it's just for his annual "wellness check" (maybe use the excuse that you need to go before the new insurance starts or something). My boyfriend is on dialysis and when his chemistry is off he has a funky, sweet but also rotten type smell to him. He'll also complain of a bad taste in his mouth. If he misses a full 24 hours of treatment it's very very noticeable.

I can't say for certain your guy has a kidney problem, but it's better to have routine blood work checked than not, right? Boyfriend was 26 when he found out he was in kidney failure. He didn't think anything was wrong, other than being tired more often but he attributed that to working on a flight line (Air Force mechanic) for long hours in the hot sun and doing things young people do to neglect their health. Found out he was in kidney failure when he went to get a blood test to see if he could donate a kidney to his dad, who also wound up with kidney failure as an Army helicopter pilot/crew (hydrolic fluid and jet fuel are bad for you, mmmkay?).
posted by MultiFaceted at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2019

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