12 Reasons Why Your Urine Smells Bad

Bad smelling urine is usually due to your diet or dehydration. However, if it lasts for a long time, it's best to see a specialist to determine if there are more severe problems.
12 Reasons Why Your Urine Smells Bad

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 24 September, 2022

Do you want to know the reasons why your urine smells funky? Keep reading, if so, below we’ll tell you the most common reasons for it.

Urine gets its characteristic smell from urea. Depending upon the concentration of urea in your body, your urine will have a stronger or weaker smell. Normally, your urine doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell.

However, as an article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch pointed out, the fact your urine smells stronger is not necessarily a cause for concern.

In fact, it’s almost always temporary and disappears in a short amount of time. Despite this, it shouldn’t be ignored that it can also alert to an underlying medical problem.

12 reasons why your urine smells bad

Here are some of the reasons why your urine can smell bad. Although you may be able to identify with one or more of them, we recommend you go to your doctor to really determine the reason for this unpleasant smell.

1. Dehydration

There is something you should immediately consider when you first start to notice a strong urine smell. First, think about the amount of water you’ve drunk in the last couple of days. Even though the amount can vary from person to person, as a general rule it’s best to drink 8 glasses of water per day. And, if you haven’t done this, this could make this problem arise.


There is something you’ll notice if dehydration is the cause of the bad smell. This sign is dark yellow or orange urine with a smell similar to ammonia. As a rule, drinking more unflavored water will make this problem disappear.

If this urine color is accompanied by mental confusion, weakness, or extreme exhaustion, it could be caused by severe dehydration. In this case, you need to see a doctor immediately.

Learn more: Amazing Detox Diet for Cleansing Your Kidneys

2. Urinary infections

Another one of the possible reasons that your urine smells bad could be due to a urinary infection. According to a study published in 2010, urinary tract infections are fairly frequent. The most common symptoms include:

  • Strong urges to use the restroom
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Stomach pain

The most common bacteria causing these infections is E. Coli. And, it’s important to go to a doctor to get the treatment you need.

3. Diabetes

Diabetes may cause sweet-smelling urine.

Does your urine have a sweet-smelling stench? As Amy Krambeck, a specialist at the Mayo Urinary Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, explains, this could be the sign of advanced diabetes. You should have a urine test if this is the case.

According to Krambeck, when diabetes progresses, sugar and ketones can accumulate in the urine and create a strong odor. However, many people are unaware of this cause and only come to the clinic when other symptoms of the disease are present.

4. Liver problems

Another reason your urine could have a bad smell is because of liver problems. According to information from the National Health Service in England, if this is the problem then the following symptoms may be present:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellow eyes (jaundice)

If you notice any of these symptoms, then go and see your doctor immediately. He will do tests to ascertain if this is due to liver problems.

5. Urine smells because of eating too much of certain kinds of foods


One of the main reasons your urine smells bad is related to your diet. For example, according to a study in the British Medical Journal in 2016, 40% of people experience a change in urine smell after eating asparagus. However, this is not the only food that can cause this. Here are some others:

  • Garlic
  • Coffee
  • Curry
  • Salmon
  • Alcohol
  • Onions
  • Brussels sprouts

6. Vaginal douches lead to urine smells

There are some women who have problems with accepting the characteristics of their intimate areas. As a result, it’s not uncommon that there are some who use vaginal douches. If you’ve started to use them, and you notice bad-smelling urine at the same time, listen up. It would be best for you to stop as soon as possible.

As a report in Women’s Health points out, vaginal douches don’t only clean your vagina. They also damage the bacteria in your genital area. The result is that they make bad smells worse instead of improving them.

If you have a bad smell coming from your feminine area for a couple of months, you should talk to your gynecologist instead of using a douche. They can tell you if you have a real problem or if it’s something normal. And, they’ll also tell you if you need treatment or not.

7. Urine smells because of ovulation

Sperm swimming to the egg.

The same hormones that help you during the fetal gestation period (estrogen and progesterone) also regulate your menstrual cycle. These hormones have a small effect on the smell of your urine. Because of this, when you’re ovulating, you may notice that your urine smells similar to ammonia.

8. Menopause

Cystitis is more common in women and even more frequent during menopause. The constant dribbling and urination due to the bladder not emptying completely, plus hormonal changes, create a breeding ground for this infection.

It has, as noted above, an intestinal origin in bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Certainly, the body gets rid of these bacteria when you urinate, but they sometimes stick to the wall of the urethra or bladder and multiply. One of the symptoms is a strong odor in the urine.

9. Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and trichomoniasis cause foul-smelling urine. This is often the first symptom among other mild ones, before the disease fully manifests.

10. Trimethylaminuria

This is an incurable metabolic disease that’s more common in women. Symptoms of the disease worsen at puberty, during the menstrual period, after taking oral contraceptives or during menopause.

Trimethylaminuria occurs when the body doesn’t break down nutrients that have nitrogen, such as trimethylamine, and activates when eating eggs, liver, legumes, fish, and some vegetables. The substance then accumulates in the body and leaves your body through your sweat, urine, breath and sexual fluids.

11. Phenylketonuria

This is a rare incurable congenital disease produced by the accumulation of phenylalanine in the organism. One of the symptoms of phenylketonuria is urine with a strong musty odor. Diagnosis of this disease is usually made at birth, after neonatal screening.

Treatment involves a rigorous diet low in phenylalanine, an amino acid commonly found in meat, eggs, dairy products, oleaginous fruits and many commercially processed foods.

12. Taking certain medications, supplements, and vitamins

The last reason for bad-smelling urine is due to some of the flavorings used in medications, supplements, and vitamins. They may be tastier but can also affect the smell and color of your urine.

There are also medications that, due to their effect on whichever organ and problem they’re treating, cause this problem. It would be a good idea to talk to your doctor so that he can tell you if this is normal.

So, why does urine smells bad?

So, have you ever noticed that your urine smells bad? Did you find out what was causing this? Whenever you notice something different, go to the doctor and don’t wait. In some cases when your urine has a bad smell, waiting can lead to a worsening of the problem.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.