“Keto crotch”: What causes bad odors if you’re on the ketogenic diet and how to avoid it
06/04/2020 // Zoey Sky // Views

The ketogenic (keto) diet is a popular eating plan because it promotes weight loss, but not many are aware that it may sometimes cause an unusual side effect in women – keto crotch.

According to health enthusiasts, being on the keto diet can sometimes cause an unpleasant vaginal odor.

When you're on the keto diet, you consume fewer carbs and more fat, with adequate amounts of protein. This means you can't eat:

  • Certain kinds of fruit like apples, bananas, and watermelon
  • Grain products, such as bread, cereal and pasta
  • Root vegetables including carrots and regular and sweet potatoes

On the keto diet, your cells will switch from burning sugar to burning fat. During this process, your body produces "ketone bodies," which are by-products of fat metabolism. This triggers ketosis, a process that makes your body use fat as its main fuel source without carbs.

How to avoid the possible causes of keto crotch

Health experts have yet to know everything about "keto crotch," but you may experience this strange side effect if you make the following mistakes while on the keto diet.

Not consuming enough alkaline foods

A healthy vaginal pH is 3.5 to 4.5 pH, which is on the acidic end of the spectrum. This helps prevent the growth of certain microorganisms.

But when you're in ketosis for an extended period, the ketones you generate and the foods you eat may change the pH levels of your vagina. This can make your crotch area more alkaline, which allows an overgrowth of bacteria.

An overgrowth in microorganisms may result in an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV), which has symptoms including a strong fishy vaginal odor and discharge. This can also be the reason behind the phenomenon, otherwise known as "keto crotch."


To prevent BV, eat more foods that will help bring your vagina back to its ideal pH levels.

Not maintaining your gut's population of "good" bacteria

According to studies, poorly formulated high-fat diets can negatively affect the composition of your gut microbiome.

This ties into keto crotch because the gut microbiome can function as a "reservoir" for vaginal microorganisms. Maintaining gut health and keeping it balanced can also help keep your vagina healthy and balanced, reducing the chance that you'll develop keto crotch.

To maintain gut health, consume probiotic-based foods like kimchi and yogurt. You also need to eat more prebiotics, like garlic, leeks, onions and other foods full of fiber, which nourish the "good" probiotic bacteria in your gut. Probiotics and prebiotics promote healthy vaginal pH, gut health and immune function.

Other tips to prevent "keto crotch"

If you're worried about getting keto crotch, follow the tips below to address this strange symptom.

  • Don't douche. The vagina is self-cleansing, and douching can sometimes flush out even good bacteria. Without good bacteria, bad bacteria may run rampant, which can cause keto crotch.
  • Use topical coconut oil. Instead of douching, use natural topical products like coconut oil to address vaginal odor. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and it contains lauric acid, a compound with anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Dab a bit of coconut oil over the vulvar area. (Related: Fennel oil found to have antifungal activity against Candida albicans.)
  • Test your urinary pH. You can examine your body's pH levels by testing your urine in the morning with pH strips. These strips will change color; the greener the strip, the more alkaline your body is. Ideally, you should have a pH of at least 7, as anything less is acidic. An acidic pH level means you may need to add more alkaline foods to your diet and eat less acid-forming foods like animal fats, cheese and meat.

Prevent keto crotch by eating alkaline foods and maintaining your gut health.

Sources include:



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