Posted on: March 5, 2019 at 1:12 pm
Last updated: December 2, 2019 at 8:05 pm

The ketogenic diet (often referred to as simply ‘keto’) was first developed in the 1920s as a means to manage epilepsy, but it lost its popularity once anti-seizure drugs were developed and widely prescribed. But in the last few years,  keto garnered a newfound interest in medical and scientific communities, for a wealth of other potential benefits. (1)


The basic principle of the ketogenic diet is to restrict carbohydrates (and protein, but to a lesser degree) from the diet and force your body into ketosis, thus burning fat instead of glucose for energy. People on the keto diet eat high amounts of fat, moderate protein, and zero or virtually zero carbs/sugar. (If this concept is totally new to you, read this article first!)

But as you might imagine, restricting one of your body’s key macro-nutrients can have some dizzying effects on the body. Many women are noticing a particularly unusual side effect of the keto diet: keto crotch.


What is “Keto Crotch?”

A quick glance on Reddit keto-related threads, and you’ll probably come across some complaints from users like this:

 “Now the weird things I have been noticing – I have a strange smell from down below- I don’t have any infection or weirdness cause I went to the Doctor, I shower everyday, and I keep myself very clean… but the last 2 weeks I have had this strong smell” ~ Marvelgirl77

“I, too, had the keto crotch when I first started keto. For me, it went away after the first 4 weeks or so, once I became more fat adapted. I fell off the wagon (kind of) and restarted keto two weeks ago- keto crotch has not reappeared, but when I work out, there is this crazy weird smell in my underarm sweat. I love how keto makes me feel…but good god – it’s a great thing I’m not trying to date right now, LOL.” ~ RiverSong3082

“I call that pleasant aroma emanating from your ladybits “dat keto stank.” It is strong and somewhat acetone like in nature… at least, mine is. I am always fragrant when I am deeply in ketosis. It’s my #1 sign that I’m in, or that I’ve gotten kicked out for indulging on the holidays. Learn to embrace it. It is a good indicator that all is right with the world! ~ Thewolfwalker

So, what’s going on here? Lisa De Fazio, a registered dietitian nutritionist explains, “Foods change the pH of the body. When this happens, the body will emit certain odors. The keto diet [may] change your vaginal pH, which alters your vaginal odor — and it may not smell like roses.” (2)

While a healthy vagina before menopause usually has a pH level somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5 (or higher than 4.5 after menopause), an imbalance caused by diet changes or unnecessary feminine products can lead to uncomfortable conditions like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.

“A high-fat diet, particularly saturated fat like on the keto diet, increases vaginal pH, and therefore increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis,” De Fazio says.


The increase in pH allows different types of bacteria to flourish, potentially causing this issue.

How to Treat Keto Crotch

All healthy vaginas have a slight odor, but if you notice a new fishy smell, it could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis. You should speak to your OB/GYN or family doctor about treating the condition, as well as ruling out the possibility of trichomoniasis. “It may go away, otherwise you should see your OB/GYN for treatment,” said De Fazio. “Your doctor may advise you to go back to a balanced diet. Any extreme changes to the body or pH is not a good idea.

Some Reddit users found natural remedies of their own, although you should always speak to a medical care provider before trying them out yourself.

“I take a supplement called Body Mint Sport that helps a lot with body odor. I noticed a change in my smell as well on keto diet, but the supplement keeps the worst of the bad breath and lady funk at bay.”~ Harborough808

“My keto stank went away immediately when I started drinking electrolytes twice a day (AM and PM). Eventually I reduced that but I’m still funk free.” BlueNailsBetty, who recommends using 3/4 teaspoon salt dissolved 1 cup of water.

“Years before I started keto, I battled a [vaginosis and yeast infections] endless cycle. I had nonstop alternating rounds of antibiotics and antifungals. My boyfriend was even treated for [vaginosis] in case he was passing it back to me. The only thing that ended the cycle was boric acid capsules (inserted, NOT ingested) and a probiotic called Femdophilus (must be the kept cold strains, not shelf-stable).” ~ SleepwalkRisk

For minimizing normal smells, check out our list of safe home remedies and tips!

Should I Quit the Ketogenic Diet?

As popular as the ketogenic diet is, and in spite of the many benefits supported by published research, not everyone is a fan of the keto trend.

Lisa De Fazio also told INSIDER that she sees patients who have followed the keto diet and now have high cholesterol as a result.

“You cannot eat large amounts of meat, cheese, and fat without consequences. You can’t eat this way until you die. When you stop keto eating and eat carbs you gain the weight back and more because you have screwed up your body’s metabolism,” she says.  She also blames keto for kidney problems and dehydration.

Other healthcare professionals have openly spoken out about the potential risks of following a keto diet, including cases where cardiovascular problems started to develop.

In fact, we’ve covered a few signs that the ketogenic diet simply isn’t right for your body (at least, perhaps not at this time). Red flags can include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Headache
  3. Anxiety
  4. Constipation
  5. Hunger
  6. Dehydration
  7. Changes in menstrual cycle
  8. Bruising
  9. Kidney stones

You can find out why each of these symptoms could be a sign that keto isn’t working for you in this article.

Nobody will deny that following the ketogenic diet can be a dramatic lifestyle change. Talk to a holistic healthcare provider or your doctor to see if keto is a safe choice for you, and if so, how to try it out in a way that’s beneficial and healthy for your body and mind.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

Maria Sykes
Team Writer
Marie Sykes is an Ontario based writer with a background in research and a love for holistic wellness. She's especially interested in boosting awareness for women's health issues. Once a shunner of gyms, Marie has found an appreciation for weight training and HIIT circuits. She enjoys trying cuisine from all over the world, and she also enjoys not caring two cents what other people think her body should look like.

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