‘Keto crotch’ the unfortunate new side effect of low carb diet

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Regardless if you’ve hopped on the keto bandwagon or not, you would’ve heard about the pretty disturbing side effects of the diet. Yeah, it’s great for weight loss, but the thought of feeling lethargic 24/7, having bad breath, or even experiencing keto diarrhoea (yep, that’s a thing), is enough to convince you to opt for another diet that isn’t so unappetising.

Now, to add to your list of ‘reasons not to go keto’, people online have taken to Reddit to voice their concerns about another not-so-pleasant side effect: ‘keto crotch’. Apparently, things can get a lil’ smelly down-under when you ditch those carbs.

“I’m about two weeks into keto, and I love it. I’m on it not for weight loss but for my persistent and resilient adult acne (30 years old and plagued with the cystic kind). I’ve had it for years, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen such a drastic improvement,” a Reddit user posted.

But – and there’s always a but – things are getting quite smelly: “I am very, SMELLY. It started on this diet and BV (bacteria vaginosis) just popped up with a vengeance,” the user added. “It’s driving me crazy. I just moved in with my boyfriend too, which is so helpful (hey dude I’m here, with really pungent smell)… No other symptoms but smell. too much protein? I read meat could turn up the heat down there?”

Umm, what is ‘keto crotch’?

First thing’s first – ‘keto crotch’ is not scientifically-backed up, but it certainly doesn’t mean keto dieters aren’t noticing some nasty changes down there.

The reason why some people may experience ‘keto crotch’ is probably due to the same reasons behind the keto breath phenomenon. Simply put, when your body is in a state of ketosis (whereby your body isn’t receiving enough carbs for energy and therefore turns to fat for fuel), fatty acids are converted into ketones (chemicals like beta hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone). Although ketones are usually harmless, they are released from the body through exhalation and urination – and because your body is producing more ketones that usual, the excess can leave your breath and vaginal area a little smellier than usual.

However, Jessica Shepherd, MD, a gynaecologist in Dallas and founder of Her Viewpoint, told Women’s Health that the reason behind vaginal odor isn’t necessarily the same as what causes keto breath. Instead, it’s more likely that the keto diet changes your vaginal pH, which in turn, changes your vaginal odor. “Any diet can change your vaginal pH,” she says, which can then change the odor a bit.

What should you do about it?

One user commented on the Reddit post, explaining the smell will subside after a while.

“It will pass once you are more adjusted to keto (if it doesn’t, see your OB). It took me a couple months to “level out” down there,” one user posted.

Others suggested only wearing 100 per cent cotton white underwear, making sure to always shower straight after a workout session, taking a probiotic, and even “drinking and bathing in Apple Cider Vinegar.”

According to Healthline, reducing the smelly side effects brought forth by the keto diet can be achieved be:

  • Increasing your water intake as this can help flush ketones from your body;
  • Eating less protein;
  • Practicing good hygiene – in the case of ‘keto crotch’, this means taking regular showers;
  • Slightly increasing your carb intake while remaining in a state of ketosis – e.g. if you’re eating 15g of carbohydrates per day, try increasing this to 20g to see if the odor improved; and
  • Remaining patient and allowing your body to adjust to its new fuel source.

However if symptoms persist, worsen overtime, or you start to notice other symptoms, seek immediate help from a medical professional as it could be an infection that’s unrelated to your diet. As always, make sure to consult a health expert before making any dietary changes.