People use the term “keto crotch” if they notice that their vaginal discharge and odor grow stronger while following the keto diet.

The keto diet advocates high fat and low carbohydrate consumption and began in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy. However, many people who do not have epilepsy follow the diet to lose weight.

In this article, we discuss whether keto crotch is real and what else it could be.

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The keto diet may be responsible for what people refer to as keto crotch.

Some people notice that they have increased vaginal odor and discharge on the keto diet.

Keto crotch has not been the subject of scientific investigation yet. However, it is possible that keto crotch could be bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Bacteria known as lactobacilli are important in ensuring the acidic environment of the vagina, which helps to maintain the natural vaginal microbiome. BV occurs when the environment in the vagina changes, and other bacteria replace the lactobacilli.

The potential hydrogen (pH) scale measures how acidic or alkaline something is. The typical vaginal pH during reproductive years is around 4.5 pH.

According to an older 2007 study, a diet high in fat may cause a high vaginal pH. The study found that the participants who had a diet high in fat also had an average vaginal pH of 5.1. A vaginal pH of more than 4.5 may be an indicator of BV.

The study suggests that a diet high in fat may increase the risk of bacterial infections related to BV by increasing the risk of other bacterial growth.

A 2020 review reinforced the links between a diet high in fat and the occurrence of BV. However, it also noted that saturated fats may be a significant link.

As the keto diet consists of consuming large amounts of fats and small amounts of carbohydrates, there may be a link between the diet and BV.

A diet high in fats may change the vaginal pH, leading to an environment in which BV can occur.

The keto diet may cause a variety of side effects.

Short term

The keto diet has several short-term side effects, with one example being “keto flu,” which typically resolves within a few weeks.

Keto flu symptoms include:

Another side effect is “keto breath.”

People may describe keto breath as being fruity or smelling like nail polish remover. Keto breath occurs due to acetone exiting the lungs when someone is following the keto diet.

Long term

Long-term effects of the keto diet may include:

It may be that keto crotch is, as yet, an undiscovered side effect of the keto diet.

Keto crotch symptoms include strong smelling vaginal odor and white discharge. However, these symptoms may indicate BV.

BV is the most common cause of vaginal discharge in females between 15–44 years old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 21.2 million females between 14–49 years of age in the United States have this condition.

The symptoms of BV include:

  • thin vaginal discharge that may look white or gray
  • burning, itching, or pain in or around the vagina
  • a strong, fishy odor
  • a burning feeling when urinating

As the symptoms of BV and keto crotch are similar, some people on the keto diet may attribute these to the diet itself.

There is not enough research to determine whether keto crotch is a real side effect of the keto diet or if it is BV.

If keto crotch is a side effect of the keto diet, there is no known cause. However, BV may occur due to disruptions of the natural vaginal flora.

The following may cause a change in the typical vaginal pH:

BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, new sexual partners may increase the risk of developing BV. Female sex partners can transfer BV to each other.

BV can sometimes go away by itself, or doctors may treat the condition if symptoms are present.

A person can treat BV with antibiotics, such as clindamycin or metronidazole. Both of these antibiotics are effective for more than 90% of people.

These antibiotics are in the form of cream, vaginal suppositories, or oral tablets. A course of antibiotics lasts between 1–7 days. However, the condition may persist despite the antibiotics, or reoccur.

BV can sometimes go away without treatment. However, it is important to seek treatment if symptoms occur because of the potential complications.

According to the CDC, BV may lead to health risks, such as:

  • increasing the chances of transmitting HIV to sexual partners if HIV positive
  • increasing the likelihood of contracting HIV from sexual partners
  • increasing the chance of contracting other STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • increasing the chance of premature birth if pregnant

The CDC suggest that practicing safe sex and avoiding douching the vagina may lower the chance of contracting BV.

However, if BV is a side effect of following the keto diet, a person can talk to a dietician about other diets that may be more beneficial.

Vaginal odors and the amount and appearance of discharge can change over time without an underlying medical condition. However, it is important to see a doctor if any changes are sudden, out of the ordinary, or worrying.

A doctor will examine the vagina for signs of discharge, and they may perform tests on a sample of vaginal fluid to diagnose BV.

The keto diet can cause a variety of side effects, such as keto flu and keto breath. It can also have long-term consequences, including kidney stones and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Keto crotch is a condition that some people notice on the keto diet. Its symptoms are very similar to BV, including discharge and a strong odor.

There are links between diets high in fat, such as the keto diet, and BV, suggesting that a high fat diet may increase the likelihood of developing the infection.

BV may go away on its own, but it is important to see a doctor if any symptoms present. BV increases the risk of contracting and submitting HIV and other STIs and increases the likelihood of giving birth prematurely. A person can treat BV with antibiotics.