Have you ever gone to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet to relieve yourself, and thought, why in the world does my urine smell? Don’t stress about it too much. Urine can be smelly, and for many reasons. Some of these reasons are harmless, but smelly urine can be a sign of something more serious in some cases.
Let’s talk about what causes smelly urine and some strategies to reduce the smell. Get comfy and keep reading we’ll cover causes and possible cures right here.
Why Does My Urine Smell?
Believe it or not, your urine can tell you a lot about your health. While its color is a pretty good indicator of your dietary habits, hydration levels, and potentially undiagnosed medical conditions, its smell can also clue you into what’s going on inside your body.
Normal urine generally has almost no smell. Sometimes you may notice your pee is a little smellier than usual. A slight change is most likely due to something very minor, like the food you ate earlier that day. But there are some smells that may signal an underlying health issue.
Dietary Changes That Might Make Your Urine Smell
You can attribute some reasons to your dietary choices. Things like the following can affect the smell of your urine.
Not drinking enough water is the top cause of smelly urine. Urine is a combo of water and waste products, so when you are dehydrated, your pee has less H2O in relation to waste products. This imbalance can leave you with a less than favorable smell.
You can check the color of your urine to check whether you’re dehydrated or not. If it’s amber or honey-colored or even a deep, dark orange color, you probably need to up your H2O intake. But if it’s a pale straw, clear, or transparent yellow color you’re well-hydrated. If your urine color is normal it could smell off for another reason.
You Ate Something With A Strong Smell
Have you ever consumed asparagus and noticed that your urine smells a little off afterward? Well, you’re not alone; 40 percent of people can actually smell a noticeable difference in their pee after eating asparagus.
Asparagus isn’t the only food that can change the scent of your pee. Certain foods like onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts, certain spices, salmon, curry, and even alcohol can change the smell.
A diet that is high in salt can also make your urine more concentrated, giving it a much stronger odor. But if too much sodium is the cause of your smelly urine, you might have bigger problems.
Some research has linked diets that are high in salt with infections and stomach ulcers. An excess of salt can also make you dehydrated because sodium draws water out of your cells and into your blood.
General medical advice says it’s best to slash the salt where you can. Your body will feel better, and your pee won’t smell so stinky. As far as eating those other foods go, expect some slightly foul-smelling pee afterward, and don’t worry too much – it’ll go away in a day or so when you’ve digested and passed the food.
You Just Drank Coffee
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your java habit could be making your pee stink. Coffee metabolites can make urine smell. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. If you’ve never noticed a strange smell after enjoying your morning cup of joe, you’re probably in the clear.
Coffee is also a natural diuretic, meaning it makes you have to pee a lot, flushing your body of extra sodium and fluid. Diuretics can cause dehydration, so on top of the odor from those coffee metabolites, your urine may also have a stench because it’s much more concentrated than usual.
Pro Tip: Drink a tall glass of H2O before your morning brew to fend off dehydration.
Infections That May Cause Your Urine To Smell
If your diet doesn’t seem to be the culprit, there may be another reason. Sometimes fighting off an infection may change how your urine smells, at least until you’re all healed up.
You Have A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection (AKA a UTI) occurs when bacteria gets into your urinary system through the urethra and then begins to multiply in the bladder. Bacteria, of course, can make your urine smell bad. But if you have a UTI, you’ll probably have more symptoms than just smelly pee.
The same bacteria that caused the infection can also make you have to relieve yourself more frequently, give you a painful burning sensation when peeing, and even turn your urine cloudy or even bloody. If you notice your urine looks bloody, or if you strongly suspect you have a UTI it’s best to see your doctor.
You can avoid frequent UTIs by taking extra steps to care for your bladder’s health. Making sure you drink enough water is a great first step. You can also use a supplement like VeeTract to help maintain the health of your bladder and prevent UTIs in the future.
You Have A Yeast Infection
Frustrating and itchy yeast infections happen when a naturally occurring fungus that lives in your vagina gets a chance to grow wild. Every person has a different vaginal microbiome but there are some things that can upset your body’s natural state. When that happens, yeast infections show up quickly.
A yeast infection can be caused by things like uncontrolled diabetes, pregnancy, an impaired immune system, certain medications like antibiotics.
Yeast infections come with a not-so-pleasant and distinctive “yeasty” smell, thanks to the imbalance of vaginal bacteria. While, yes, yeast infections are technically in your vagina, because your urethra is so close, your pee can pick up the “yeasty” scent as well.
To heal an itchy yeast infection, you need to get your microbiome back to normal. You have quite a few options to get rid of a yeast infection. If you’re used to dealing with them at home then you’re probably familiar with at least a few of those things. If you aren’t sure what to do, or it’s your first time dealing with a yeast infection, ask your doctor for pointers.
You Have A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may an inflammation of the urethra. Anything that causes irritation or inflammation can potentially be associated with bacteria or bleeding, or pus, which can change the smell of urine.
Infections like trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common STIs that cause your urethra to swell. If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, be sure to contact your doctor ASAP. They will be able to help determine the best option for treatment.
Other Possible Causes For Smelly Urine:
If your diet seems to be ok, and you don’t have any infections, there are still a few other reasons your urine might smell a little off.
You Use Douche Products
Douching using scented feminine hygiene products is a common practice, but it’s not great for the health of your vagina. Many ladies practice the habit to improve cleanliness, vaginal odor or to treat vaginal infections in some cases. But unfortunately, the truth is that douching can cause problems like yeast infections or BV to occur more often.
Since yeast infections and things like BV can change how your urine smells, the douching you’re doing might be the issue. Your best option is to gently clean your lady bits with soap and water. Your vagina is already very well equipped to keep itself clean without extra products.
You Have Kidney Stones
Anyone who’s had a kidney stone knows firsthand how incredibly painful they can be. Kidney stones develop when salt, calcium, and other minerals found in urine stick together and form into hard stone-like deposits. They can be as small as sand-like grains or as large as chunks of gravel.
Kidney stones can collect bacteria and lead to infection and sometimes even bleeding, which can then change what your urine smells like. Stones usually pass in the urine without any need for medical treatment. If you do have severe pain, be sure to seek out immediate medical attention. Some kidney stones are too big to pass and will require surgery.
A Final Word
On its own, mildly smelly pee isn’t usually worth a doctor visit unless it seems to be persistent. However, if it comes with other symptoms like bloody urine, pain, or burning it’s time to see your doctor. Remember that everyone experiences urine odor from time to time. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
As long as you treat any possible causes, your urine smell is likely normal. Don’t stress too much over it and get back to enjoying life as soon as possible.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.