11 Weird Things That Can Affect The Smell Of Your Butt

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Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Whether it's an infection, a hygiene issue, or digestive troubles, there are plenty of things that can affect the smell of your butt. Odors can be an embarrassing issue to deal with, but more importantly they can be a sign something's wrong with your health. That's why it's a good idea to pay attention to new symptoms, and not let odd scents go on ignored.

"It’s important to monitor your body for foul odors since it can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, hygiene, or digestive issue," Dr. Jessica Lue, One Medical primary care physician, tells Bustle. "If you’re unsure about what is causing a foul odor or how to help your hygiene issue, it’s important to seek medical care to find the underlying cause."

Your doctor can chat with you about your lifestyle, your pooping schedule, and your bathing habits in order to determine what, exactly, is causing a problem down below. It could be due to an infection, an abscess, or simply the fact you had too much dairy at lunch. Whatever the case may be, taking care of yourself can make all the difference. Read on for some possible culprits, as well as what to do about them, according to experts.

1. Sexually Transmitted Infections

While we're all well aware of STIs involving the genitals, it's important to remember they can affect other areas, too. "If an individual participates in anal sex [...] with a partner who has a bacterial sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis, they can contract the infection in their rectum," noted the experts at HealthLabs. "Many infections are accompanied by ... abnormal odors."

So, if you happen to have any new symptoms, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor for a full check up, to figure out what's wrong.

2. Flatulence

Everyone farts, but some people may pass more gas than others, which can obviously result in smells. "Excessive gas often comes from things that you have eaten or the way your body is processing different carbohydrates," Dr. Lue says. That's why, if you happen to eat something that doesn't agree with you, or if you have an underlying health issue, your gas might even be smellier than usual.

This can be the case if you have a food sensitivity or lactose intolerance, which can cause symptoms of bloating, gas, and even diarrhea. Some foods, like broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus, can lead to gassiness, too, in pretty much everyone.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

While it's obviously common and healthy to poop and pass gas throughout the day, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can make you go way more often. Symptoms can include pain and bloating, gas, constipation, and even diarrhea. Some folks with diarrhea may even find themselves going to the bathroom up to 12 times a week, which is about twice as often as those without IBS.

If this sounds familiar, IBS may be to blame. But never fear as there are things you can do. "If excessive gas is your problem, try to track your diet to see what might be triggering it," Dr. Lue says. "You may need to see a medical primary care provider if [you're] having a hard time figuring out your triggers."

The thing about IBS is symptoms are often tricky to nail down, and the source of them difficult to find. But it can be possible to feel a bit better by making a few lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods that make you feel worse, and managing your stress.

4. Dietary Sensitivities

As mentioned above, you might notice certain food groups make you pass gas more often. And, as Dr. Lue says, some people are sensitive to gluten, which is yet another thing you may want to consider if you're struggling with digestive symptoms. Aside from gassiness, other symptoms of gluten intolerance include bloating, diarrhea, extra smelly poop, and other non-digestive related issues.

Other sensitivities, again, include are lactose intolerance, which can lead to gas and even diarrhea. Eliminating these foods from your diet — just to see how you feel, at first — may help clear up any side effects. Remember, though, that there's a difference between a food sensitivity and allergy, which is much more severe.

5. Not Wiping Properly

If you aren't wiping thoroughly after going to the bathroom, you might notice that you don't feel as fresh. It's something lots of people do without realizing, usually because they're in a hurry. But often all it takes to correct are a few new habits.

For example, as Dr. Lue says, "it’s best to wipe firm enough to get all your stool but not too hard to cause an abrasion. You can have a unscented, non-medicated, chemical-free wipes, but the key is to make sure you are wiping so that you feel you are clean and fresh."

6. Wearing Fitted Clothing

While you may want your jeans to fit snuggly, be careful about wearing pants that fit close to the skin. "Tight fitting clothing such as underwear or pants ... can cause excessive sweat and reduce air circulation around your genitals," Dr. Lue says. "This can cause skin infections and even lead to changes in your pH."

When the pH of your vagina changes, bacterial and yeast infections can occur, leading to new odors in the surrounding area.

7. Sweating

Fitted clothing can also trap sweat and germs against your skin, which can lead to a bad odor as the day goes on. This is all thanks to the moisture mixing with natural bacteria of your skin, so keeping clean — by showering, using natural body wipes, etc. — can help, especially if you just exercised and are feeling particularly sweaty.

8. Synthetic Fabrics

Fitted clothes can make it easier for bacteria to stick around, but synthetic fabrics can make it even worse. And that's because man-made materials — like polyester or nylon — don't allow your bits to breathe, thus keeping sweat and bacteria trapped inside your clothes. So if you notice that some of your clothes cause more odors than others, this may be why.

If you want to prevent yourself from getting too smelly, try to wear natural fabrics, like linen and cotton, which can help the skin breathe.

9. A Case Of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and rectum, can be external or internal, and are a result from straining while pooping, sitting for long periods of time on the toilet, pregnancy, and low-fiber diets, among other things. If you notice them, you might feel itchy, bleed a little, or have some pain in your butt area. And some people do report a smell.

10. Constipation

Constipation, which can be caused by a low-fiber diet, digestive problems, and some medications, not only feels uncomfortable, but can lead to smelly side effects over time. For example, it can lead to hard stools and difficulty going to the bathroom. And when that goes on for too long, stool can definitely back up and cause odor.

11. An Abscess

Believe it or not, poop can clog the glands in your butt causing what's known as an "anal abscess." It can then turn into an infected cavity full of pus near the anus or rectum. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and fever. But obviously any kind of infection can lead to an odor, too.

Dealing with smelliness is never fun. So you may want to get rid of these odors not only for peace of mind, but to ensure you have good health. So, if you've been smellin' something odd down below, make sure you talk to your doctor.

This post was originally published on 12/17/2018. It was updated on 6/4/2019.

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