‘Keto Crotch’, is this new diet causing vaginal odor?
The Keto diet consists of very little to no carbohydrates and an increase in fat intake. This process causes your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs which is called ketosis. It has helped several people lose weight.
It has become very common, but now it’s side effects are surfacing. Some effects are keto flu, keto breath, keto diarrhea and now there’s keto crotch. On a recent Women’s health article details were shared about a Reddit thread titled “HELP LADIES!”. Here this user starts off saying “HELP LADIES! Why do I smell down there!?” The user then starts to discuss that she is two weeks into their keto diet and loving it, but she is “very, SMELLY.”
In the comments, several ladies discussed they were having the same issues.
There is no research out yet confirming that this is a thing, but it is relatively similar to keto breath. As discussed earlier, the keto diet forces the body to go into ketosis which produces ketones. Ketones are naturally produced by our bodies, but excess ketones can cause your bodily fluids to be smelly.
The diet is said to create a nail polish remover smell which is caused by the ketones produced like acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. If that last one looks familiar, acetone, it’s because it’s found in actual nail polish remover.
A gynecologist, Jessica Shepherd, thinks it may be something different saying that “Any diet can change your vaginal pH,” which causes changes in odor. Changes in pH causes bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV, which is the most common vaginal infection for people who experience menstruation. This alters the bacteria in the vagina. “What is absolutely a given is that the bacteria environment in the vagina requires a certain kind of bacteria in order to be healthy and we know a lot of things can tip that balance,” says medical director Lauren Streicher.
“The pH-balance is an important factor in maintaining vaginal health,” says a registered dietitian nutritionist, Lisa De Fazio. “A high-fat diet, particularly saturated fat like on the keto diet, increases vaginal pH, and therefore increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis.”
“During your reproductive years, ages 15 to 49, your vaginal pH should be below or equal to 4.5. But, before menstruation and after menopause, a healthy pH tends to be higher than 4.5,” said De Fazio. “An acidic vaginal environment is protective. It creates a barrier that prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying too quickly and causing infection.”
As for solutions, many comments on Reddit and doctors say to wait it out a bit to see if the body will balance itself. “It may go away, otherwise you should see your OB/GYN for treatment. Your doctor may advise you to go back to a balanced diet” said De Fazio.
Written by Imani Maxberry