- Some dieters have reported an unusual side effect of the keto diet: a smelly genital secretion referred to as “keto crotch.”
- There is only anecdotal evidence that keto crotch is a real condition. There isn’t any scientific research proving that certain foods affect the smell or taste of genital secretions, according to gynecologist Lauren Streicher, MD.
- Nonetheless, people are trying a variety of remedies, like bathing in apple cider vinegar and swabbing their genitals with rubbing alcohol. These solutions aren’t proven and can also irritate the genitals.
- If your vaginal discharge smells or looks different than it usually does, you should see a gynecologist right away rather than trying a home remedy.
Every year, US News & World Report ranks the best (and worst) diets for the year ahead. This year, the ketogenic diet was named the worst of 35 diets in terms of healthy eating, and second-to-worst overall.
Still, diet continues to rise in popularity, and more people are sharing their experiences with the high-fat, low-carb regimen. One unusual reported side effect is referred to as “keto crotch.” Some dieters claim that the keto diet causes their genital secretions to smell stronger and more offensive than before starting the diet.
On the subreddit r/xxketo, multiple people shared that after starting the keto diet, their vaginal discharge smelled different than before — and not in a good way. “I have that not-so-fresh feeling. But it’s not just my breath and my pits, it’s also my crotch (read: vagina),” one Reddit user wrote. Another user described their genital odor as “a mix between urine and discharge.”
Many people called for solutions, and the internet obliged, suggesting everything from apple cider vinegar baths to swabbing the labia with alcohol to get rid of the smell. Some of these remedies can be dangerous, according to gynecologist Lauren Streicher, MD, and they’re also unwarranted.
That’s because there is no proof that the keto diet causes smellier-than-normal genitals at all. “There’s this whole notion that what you eat can cause an alteration in genital odor, but it’s never been studied,” Streicher told INSIDER.
Infections and changes in pH levels can also cause abnormal vaginal odors
According to Streicher, various factors can mess with the smell of vaginal discharge. Bacterial vaginosis, for example, occurs there’s an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina, leaving fewer good bacteria to balance the vagina’s pH levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The result is a funky scent similar to what dieters with keto crotch report.
“The question is, did they already have bacterial vaginosis, or is it related to the diet?” Streicher said. Some people on the r/xxketo subreddit also reported having bacterial vaginosis, both on and off the keto diet.
Streicher added that douches, scented sprays, and other feminine hygiene products can mess with vaginal pH and, as a result, their smell. That means the remedies suggested online could potentially exacerbate an existing unpleasant smell or cause inflammation and itchiness of the genitals.
“Women sometimes do experience unpleasant odor but that is not something they have to deal with [on their own],” Streicher said. “You don’t want to chalk it up to the diet and say its normal.” If you have any concerns about vaginal discharge or an unusual odor, talk to your doctor.