People think “keto crotch” might be a not-so-pleasant side effect of the high-fat diet

The keto diet is one of the most buzzed-about food fads out there, but as with almost every other diet, there are some downsides. One of the side effects people are talking about is something delightfully called “keto crotch.” What is keto crotch, you ask? Well, according to Women’s Health, some women have said their vaginas have emitted a strong smell after starting the keto diet. And while the keto crotch phenomenon isn’t officially recognized in scientific literature, women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider explained to HelloGiggles that keto could definitely be causing more, um, fragrant vaginas.

Many people have been shouting the weight loss benefits of the keto diet from the rooftops. That includes celebs like Sherri Shepherd and Jenna Jameson, who have shared their keto-based weight loss stories on Instagram. But a smelly vagina is a pretty major downside. If you’re interested in trying this high-fat, low-carb diet, hearing about keto crotch may be a deterrent. And unfortunately, it could be a legitimate side effect. “It’s not in the medical books and not confirmed by science, but it’s definitely something people on the keto diet have been talking about,” Dr. Wider said.

As Dr. Wider explained, the goal of the keto diet is to have your body enter the metabolic state known as ketosis, where your energy comes from the burning of fat instead of carbohydrates. That’s why the keto diet embraces animal and nut fats and recommends that dieters consume only a very small amount of sugars and carbs.

One of the reported effects of the keto diet is “keto breath,” where your breath smells like acetone. Understandably, keto crotch isn’t as well-known or as widely discussed as keto breath, but Dr. Wider explained how these smelly-body symptoms could be related. “People may have keto diet breath, which some people describe as smelling like nail polish remover,” she said. “At the same time, your crotch may emit an odor based on diet choices and an altered vaginal pH from the diet.”

“Foods can change the odor of our bodily fluids,” Dr. Wider said. “For example, certain vegetables, like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, are known to do this. But citrus fruits have been reported to give a pleasant odor to sexual body fluid in both men and women (in addition to cinnamon and nutmeg). Other spices, like garlic and onion, tobacco, and certain types of alcohol, may have the opposite effect.”

It makes sense that if your diet has drastically changed from the keto diet, your vaginal pH could be impacted.

According to the CDC, a normal pH for a vagina ranges from 3.8 to 4.2 (the lower the number, the more acidic) and a change in pH can be an indication of a vaginal infection and can result in a change in your vaginal discharge. So if you’re experiencing any other symptoms, like itching, you should go see your gynecologist to make sure the odor isn’t a symptom of a vaginal infection. But if it’s simply “keto crotch,” take a bit of solace in the fact that some women on Reddit noted the smell eventually went away once their bodies had adjusted to the keto diet. And for the love of your vag, don’t resort to doing anything bad for your vaginal health, like douching, while trying to solve your keto crotch problem.

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