The ketogenic diet (or 'keto' for short) involves the eradication of most carbs from your diet in favour of proteins and fats. It has exploded in popularity among women in recent years, with multiple mummy blogs singing its virtues.
However, there's a slightly icky side-effect you may wish to ponder before embarking on a high-fat, low-carb diet. In short, it can cause a marked change in vaginal odour - AKA the 'Keto Crotch'.
Five people have recently told me they were going to "try keto" — the most recent after gushing about a mutual friend who has been doing keto, aka the popular ketogenic diet, and getting awesome-looking results. You've probably heard rumblings about keto, but what the heck is it? And is it too good to be true?
It turns out that drastically changing your diet can affect your body in more ways than weight loss. When it comes to keto, ingesting large amounts of macronutrients like proteins and fats can cause the body to emit unusual odours - particularly in the downstairs department.
In a recent Business Insider article, Lisa De Fazio, a registered dietitian nutritionist, explained the rise of so-called 'keto crotch' and what causes it:
"Foods change the pH [potential of Hydrogen] of the body. When this happens, the body will emit certain odours. The keto diet [may] change your vaginal pH, which alters your vaginal odor - and it may not smell like roses.
This pH imbalance essentially fosters "bad" bacteria growth which is the source of the smell. In addition to vagina odour, this bacteria can also lead to vaginal irritation and infections.
"The pH-balance is an important factor in maintaining vaginal health," De Fazio explained. "A high-fat diet, particularly saturated fat like on the keto diet, increases vaginal pH, and therefore increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis."
In other words, a high vaginal pH level - typically above 4.5 - is the chief cause of keto crotch. A high pH level can provide the perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to multiply and spread - so it's definitely worth avoiding even if you don't care about the smell.
For the record (and you can file this under 'TMI') - my wife is currently a hardcore keto advocate, and I've noticed nothing unusual south of the border. As with any diet, it affects different people in different ways, I guess.
[Via Business Insider]