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Keto Crotch–Side Effect of Ketosis

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Have you recently started keto and noticed an unpleasant vaginal odor? You may have developed keto crotch.

The ketogenic diet is becoming increasingly popular, and as more people are going keto, the more we learn about the side effects of keto adaptation. Keto breath, keto headache, keto diarrhea, and keto flu are common side effects. Should keto crotch be added to this list? 

Let’s take a look if keto crotch is a thing and what you can do to get rid of vaginal odor fast.  

Vaginal odor

What is keto crotch?

Keto crotch is a noticeable change in vaginal odor after starting the keto diet. While there isn’t a lot of scientific research on this topic, plenty of women report that they experience keto crotch. 

Symptoms typically appear after about a month of starting keto and include a strong vaginal smell and sometimes unusual discharge. The odor often is compared to a sour or fishy smell, and the severity of keto crotch can range from mild to very unpleasant. 

Changing to a high-fat and low-carb diet shifts your body to burn fat instead of sugar for energy. Keto triggers profound metabolic changes that support weight loss, balance hormone levels, and improve cognition. 

Keto crotch is most likely a side effect of your body adapting to the metabolic changes of keto. The good news is that once your body adjusts to burning fat, keto crotch will go away. 

What causes keto crotch?

Precisely what causes keto crotch isn’t fully understood. Bad breath, smelly urine, and changes in body odor are common side effects of starting keto and can give us some clues why vaginal odor may develop. 

Elevated levels of ketones 

As you enter ketosis, your metabolism breaks down fat for energy and produces ketones as by-products. Acetone is one type of ketone and the same chemical that gives nail polish remover its pungent smell.

As you start the keto diet, levels of acetone rise, but your body isn’t very effective at using this ketone as a fuel source yet. As a result, acetone builds up in your system leading to changes in body odor, keto breath, and likely impacts vaginal odor.

Changes in vaginal pH

A high-fat diet like keto can impact your vaginal pH balance, resulting in vaginal odors.

A healthy vaginal pH level is acidic and somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5 on the pH scale. An acidic pH is an essential factor in maintaining vaginal health and allows good bacteria to thrive while preventing unhealthy bacteria from spreading. 

Research suggests that a diet high in fat, particularly saturated fat, can alter pH levels, changing vaginal acidity. A high pH level can create the perfect environment for certain microorganisms, like bacteria or yeasts, to grow in the vaginal area. 

Bacterial vaginosis can develop as a result of imbalanced vaginal pH and causes an unpleasant odor. Depending on your previous diet, hormonal factors, and metabolism, your body may be more sensitive to diet-related pH changes. This may explain why some people develop keto crotch and others don’t. 

Vagina bacteria growth

How to get rid of keto crotch

Experiencing keto crotch doesn’t mean keto isn’t right for you. As your body adjusts to the keto diet, unpleasant smells around your crotch area will diminish and there are plenty of steps you can take in the meantime to reduce symptoms.

Don’t restrict all carbohydrates

While a low-carb diet is crucial to maintain ketosis, eating too few carbs can increase keto-related body odors. If you consume less than 20 grams of carbs daily, your body produces high amounts of acetone in response to increased fat breakdown. 

Elevated acetone levels are known to lead to body odor, especially during the early phases of keto. Keep your net carb intake between 20 to 50 grams daily to maintain a low-carb diet and to keep your acetone levels steady.

Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables

Green leafy veggies like spinach, collard greens, and mustard greens are rich sources of chlorophyll, a bright green pigment. 

Chlorophyll is also known as an “internal deodorizer” and helps with keto-breath and other keto-related body odors.

Keto-friendly foods

Maintain ketosis 

If your carb intake exceeds 20 to 50 grams regularly, your metabolism will move in and out of ketosis. This slows keto adaptation and side effects like keto crotch are more likely. 

Limit your carb intake to 50 grams daily and do a Healthy Keto® diet to help your body transition to ketosis fast and with minimal side effects. Healthy Keto is a balanced diet focusing on healthy fats, high-quality and organic foods, and plenty of keto-friendly vegetables.

Don’t use vaginal douche products 

Keto crotch isn't a personal hygiene issue, and vaginal health doesn't require any douches or soaps. This study confirms that douching can lead to vaginal pH imbalance and increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections that can worsen keto crotch.

Woman holding flower

Key takeaways

The keto diet is an excellent choice to lose weight and support a healthy body. Transitioning your metabolism to burn fat instead of sugar for energy takes time and can result in temporary side effects like an unpleasant vaginal odor called keto crotch. 

Keto crotch will clear up once your body adapts to keto. Eating chlorophyll-rich foods, watching your daily carb count, and maintaining steady ketosis help your body adjust to keto fast and keep keto-related odors at bay.


1. Is keto crotch real?

Yes, keto crotch can be a side effect of adapting to the keto diet. Although there is very little research on keto crotch, keto can cause temporary changes in body odor leading to vaginal odor.

2. Does keto crotch go away on its own?

Yes, once your body adapts to the keto diet, keto crotch will go away on its own. 

3. How do I get rid of keto crotch?

Helping your body adapt to keto quickly is the best way to get rid of keto crotch. Eat plenty of chlorophyll-rich foods like spinach, mustard greens, and parsley. Chlorophyll is a natural anti-odor substance that can help eliminate keto-related odors like keto crotch. 

4. Do guys get keto crotch?

Some guys can experience symptoms similar to keto crotch. During keto-adaptation, temporary changes in body odor are common. The male groin area contains a lot of sweat glands and limited airflow, which can lead to an unpleasant crotch odor.

5. What does keto smell like?

Altered body odor is a common side effect of starting the keto diet. During ketosis, your body produces three ketones: acetone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate. 

Acetone is a natural metabolic by-product of fat breakdown and also found in nail polish removers, giving it a slightly sweet and fruity smell. Keto breath often has a similar fruity odor caused by rising acetone levels in response to keto.

6. Does keto make your crotch smell?

Yes, keto can make your crotch smell temporarily as your body adjusts to a low-carb, high-fat diet. Certain foods can change vaginal pH levels, leading to bacterial imbalance and vaginal odor. 

There is a debate about whether acidic foods increase the risk of keto crotch while alkaline foods lower the likelihood of vaginal odors during keto-adaptation. However, there is no research to confirm or deny these claims yet. 

7. Do probiotics help with keto crotch?

Whether probiotics help with keto crotch depends on what causes vaginal odor. Probiotics will be less effective if the smell is related to elevated acetone levels during the early stages of keto-adaptation.

If keto crotch is linked to pH imbalance or changes to the bacterial ecosystem of the vagina, a probiotic supplement can reduce odors and support your vaginal health.   

8. Is there a smell associated with ketosis?

Yes, ketosis has a smell. During ketosis, your body breaks down fat for energy, producing ketones as by-products. One of the three ketones, acetone, naturally has a slightly sweet and fruity smell. Changes to body odor, sweat, or breath can occur due to elevated acetone levels but typically go away once your body becomes more keto-adapted.

9. Can ketosis cause body odor?

The keto diet doesn't cause body odor, but it does result in elevated acetone levels. Acetone has a distinct fruity scent and can change the odor of your breath, urine, or sweat. These changes are temporary and typically disappear when your body becomes keto-adapted.   

10. Why does keto make your crotch smell?

There are several possible reasons why keto can make your crotch smell. Elevated levels of acetone in response to ketosis can change the scent of your sweat.

The groin area has many sweat glands, making it more prone to noticeable odor. 

The keto diet can raise vaginal pH, leading to an imbalance of vaginal bacteria. Changes to the vaginal ecosystem are associated with odor and can cause keto crotch.      

11. Does keto cause BV?

No, keto itself doesn't cause bacterial vaginosis. However, keto can raise your body's pH levels. Altered pH levels may cause changes to the vaginal bacterial ecosystem and increase the risk of developing vaginal bacterial vaginosis.

12. Can ketosis cause itching?

Yes, ketosis can cause itching. Keto rash is a rare side effect of keto-adaptation and typically develops within a few weeks of going keto. Although it's not very well understood what causes this rash, changes in fat metabolism and sluggish fat digestion during the early stages of keto can cause temporary itching.

13. What are the symptoms of keto crotch?

Changes in vaginal odor are the most common symptom. While some people describe the smell as fishy, others report a somewhat sour odor. 

If you experience any severe changes to vaginal smell or have a burning sensation when urinating, consult your OB-GYN to rule out bacterial vaginosis or other underlying health issues. 

14. Does keto cause yeast infection?

No, keto itself doesn't cause yeast infections. If you are sensitive to diet-related changes in vaginal pH, you may be at increased risk of developing yeast infections. Consult with your OB-GYN if you experience recurring yeast infections.

15. Does ketosis make you stink?

The metabolic changes in response to going keto can change the odor of your body. The smell of your breath, sweat, and urine can change as a result of elevated acetone levels.  

16. Does keto affect your vagina?

Keto can lead to changes of vaginal pH. Research suggests that a high-fat diet can raise pH levels which can alter the vaginal ecosystem. 

17. Does keto change your vaginal pH?

There is evidence that suggests a high-fat diet raises vaginal acidity. Some people are more sensitive to changes in diet and may experience altered pH levels after going keto.


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