This article originally appeared on VICE US.
You know all of the jokes, yeah? Like how you can tell if someone is vegan, or if someone does Crossfit, or if someone is convinced that a room filled with essential oil diffusers is just as effective as all of those silly-billy vaccines? The answer to all three is “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you about it, and they’ll post on Facebook about it, and they’ll angrily comment on all of the posts you’ve made complaining about it until you ultimately have to report them for hate speech.”
But the keto diet requires a slightly different punchline for its slightly different side-effects. Given that ketosis can cause your breath, your pee, and everything else that comes out of any number of your orifices to have a strong odor, you don’t need to tell anyone that you’re on keto; we might already be able to smell it. (BUT YOU LOOK GREAT, AUNT BRENDA. REALLY.).
According to Women’s Health, some women on the keto diet have noticed that their personal areas have a more distinct smell, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘keto crotch.’ One thread on the r/xxketo subreddit attempted to address this topic with a desperate “HELP LADIES!” in its title. “I am very SMELLY. It started on this diet and BV (bacteria vaginosis) just popped up with a vengeance,” a user named imisswaffles wrote. “I’ve read [it] could be KETO CROTCH (yeast die off/hormonal changes with the diet), like getting smelly breath? I’m only 2 weeks in. No other symptoms but smell.”
Several other Redditors said they’d noticed the same thing (about themselves, not about that particular Reddit user), and were able to share some rational-sounding advice. “Make an appointment with your [gynecologist] ASAP,” one person responded, before suggesting that the unpleasant situation could be caused by not showering or changing into non-sweaty clothing immediately after a workout. “Hot and moist areas are breeding grounds for bacteria,” she added.
That echoes what one gynecologist told Women’s Health as well. Dr. Jessica Shepherd said that any diet—not just the keto one—can change a woman’s vaginal pH, which might affect the way it smells. Another gyno said that any other changes, like rashes, abnormal discharge, or an unpleasant itch, should be mentioned to a medical professional. (The subtext there is “Don’t just type about it on an internet forum, even if you use all capital letters to write the word HELP.” Oh, and this is a good time to re-remind you not to put parsley in your vaginas either.)
And sorry, gentlemen, but you might not be exempt from your own keto-related genital issues. A post on r/keto that doubly specified “For guys” and “Male” suggested that some men may have problems with dryness down there. “Take some of that coconut oil we all have on hand and lather up,” a person named Mr_Apocalyptic_ wrote. “I do that with dry skin due to cold air on my legs and such. It works like magic and your twig and berries region will smell like a tropical getaway.”
Well, we’ve all learned something today, mostly that there are worse things than your former college roommate telling you about the Crossfit Open in great detail.