Incontinence & LBL

Why Does My Urine Smell?

Written by Dr. Staci Tanouye, OB/GYN, MD
8 Feb, 2023
3 min. Read
Why Does My Urine Smell?

Why Does My Urine Smell?

Did you know that urine is a helpful indicator of what’s going on with your body? Some women might wonder why their urine smells stronger some days than it does on others, or why the color of their urine doesn’t look quite right. It can be due to a variety of factors that can tell you more about your health.

For starters, things such as medications, hydration, foods and infections may impact the way your urine smells. If you notice a strong smell, don’t be alarmed, but monitor it and seek medical advice if the smell persists.

Typically, urine doesn’t have a noticeable odor because urine is 95% water. Urine also holds other waste products filtered out by your kidneys such as calcium, nitrogen, potassium and more.

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Key lifestyle factors that impact the smell of urine:

  • Hydration levels.

    If you are dehydrated, your urine has the tendency to smell much stronger than usual. This is due to decreased water levels that make the filtered waste in your urine more predominant.

  • Diet.

    What you eat and drink can impact the way your urine smells. Certain foods such as asparagus can make your urine have a sulfur-like smell, while drinks such as coffee can leave a distinctive coffee smell when you urinate. Fish, onions, brussels sprouts and garlic are other foods that can leave a very distinctive smell in your urine.

  • Vitamins & Medications.

    Vitamin B and vitamin D have been known to leave a fishy smell in urine. While medications such as sulfonamide antibiotics (commonly used to treat UTIs as well as other fungal and bacterial infections), diabetes medications and rheumatoid arthritis medications, all of which fall into the sulfa drug group (medicines used to treat bacterial infections), can cause urine to have a foul-smelling odor.

Health conditions that impact urine smell:

  • Pregnancy.

    A major life change that can lead to strong urine odor in females is pregnancy. It’s very common for pregnant women to begin noticing a change in the way their urine smells. This is typically due to hormone changes that result in having a heightened sense of smell. Other key factors could be dehydration or prenatal vitamins, which can lead to smelly urine.

  • Menopause.

    Women who are going through menopause may notice changing urine smell. This is typically due to hormonal changes, such as a decrease in estrogen, impacting overall vaginal health.

  • Medical conditions.

    Yeast infections, STIs, diabetes, UTIs and kidney stones can change the way your urine smells. If you suspect you are experiencing one of these conditions, it’s important to talk with your doctor to seek the right treatment plan.

  • Aging.

    As people age, their urine may smell different. This change is largely due to either dehydration or chronic health issues, to which the elderly can be more susceptible.

Specific smells in your urine may offer more insight for your doctor when evaluating your health.

Some of these urine odors include:

  • Ammonia.

    Urine that smells like ammonia can be a sign of an illness such as UTIs, kidney stones, menopause, or liver disease.

  • Fungus/yeasty.

    Antibiotics can make your urine smell a bit off as they are secreted from your body through your urine. Penicillin, for instance, is derived from mold and can make your urine have a fungal and yeast smell as your body releases the medication.

  • Sweet/sugary.

    Sweet smelling urine can be a sign of diabetes and can indicate high blood sugar levels.

  • Yeast/sweet.

    A sweet or yeasty smelling odor coming from your urine could indicate an overgrowth of yeast, leading to a yeast infection.

Urine odor is also something to be mindful of when evaluating what is going on with your body. Normal urine color ranges from a pale yellow to amber. Similarly, to urine odor, factors such as foods, hydration levels, medications and illnesses can impact urine color.

Potential urine colors and what they could mean:

  • Cloudy/murky urine..

    This is typically a sign of a UTI or kidney stones.

  • Dark brown urine..

    Fava beans, rhubarb or aloe could be the culprit of dark brown urine. It could also be a sign of a liver or kidney disorder as well as several different medications.

  • Blue or green urine..

    If you’ve recently consumed brightly colored food dyes, there’s a chance you have green urine. Medications and different illnesses are also contributing factors for these urine colors.

  • Orange urine..

    If you aren’t staying hydrated, dehydration could cause your urine to be orange. Medical conditions such as liver issues and chemotherapy drugs or medications for urinary pain can also all lead to orange urine.

  • Red or pink urine. .

    Beets, blackberries and rhubarb can turn urine red or pink. It could also be a sign of blood in the urine which could indicate a UTI, kidney stones, or bladder cancer among other health issues.

Urine can tell you a lot about your body and if you have anything going on that might require medical attention. Make sure to seek medical advice if you notice any abnormalities in urine odor or color. Everyone’s urine is different and having a slight odor in your urine can be completely normal. It’s also normal to have the color of your urine differ depending on your body's hydration levels. Staying in tune with the color and odor of your urine is a great way to make sure your body is getting the hydration and nutrients that it needs to stay healthy.

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Author Summary: Dr. Staci Tanouye, MD, board-certified OB-GYN is a physician in a private practice and an expert in adolescent health, sexual health, reproductive health, and menopausal health. She has become one of the leading gynecologists on social media with the mission to educate women and all people with vulvas to love their bodies through knowledge and empowerment.


Kimberly-Clark makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.