Smelly Urine During Pregnancy: Causes And Tips To Reduce It

✔ Research-backed

Smelly urine when pregnant is one of the several unusual symptoms one might experience. While it is not always a cause of concern, it may be uncomfortable for expecting mothers.

While some cases could indicate underlying pathology, it is essential to get examined by the doctor to rule out any infections or other problems causing smelly urine. Also, some care and precaution are essential in avoiding smelly urine during pregnancy. Read this post to learn the various causes and preventive measures of smelly urine during pregnancy.

In This Article

Causes Of Smelly Urine During Pregnancy

Urine can smell different during pregnancy due to a heightened sense of smell, more urea in the urine, urinary tract infections, and even changes in diet. Most of these causes are usually benign and seldom to worry about.

Below is a list of the common causes of smelly urine in pregnant women.

  1. Heightened sense of smell: It is believed that pregnancy might increase sensitivity to odors, also known as hyperosmia. Ammonia is naturally present in urine, but the smell is usually not strong. Due to the increased sense of smell in pregnancy, you can notice a bad odor. However, there is no medical evidence to establish a connection between increased olfactory response and pregnancy (1).

Dr. Brittany Noel Robles, a New York-based obstetrician-gynecologist, says, “An ammonia-like smell from urine may be caused due to different reasons such as dietary changes, vitamin ingestion, or dehydration. Dehydration can cause urine to become more concentrated and produce a stronger smell. However, a strong smell could also be a sign of a urinary tract infection, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

    1. Urinary infections: Urinary tract infection is a bacterial inflammation or yeast infection in the urinary tract and is common in pregnancy. As per the reports of a study by multiple institutions, the rates of UTI in pregnancy was estimated to be between two and seven percent. Urinary tract infections during pregnancy can cause cloudy urine, which smells foul or unusual (2).
Urinary tract infections may cause a foul smell in urine.

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Bacterial infections: Bacterial vaginosis or vaginitis is a vaginal infection caused by the overgrowth of bacteria. It may lead to a burning sensation and foul smell while peeing
    (3).
  1. Diet: You may have weird food cravings in pregnancy. Certain foods, including cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, garlic, coffee, and beer, can give the urine a temporary, strong odor (4).
  1. Supplements: Certain medications, vitamins, minerals, etc., can cause an unpleasant urine odor. However, do not stop the medicines without consulting your doctor (4).
Medications may cause an unpleasant urine odor.

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Dehydration: You should consume enough water for both your and the baby’s well-being. Otherwise, dehydration in pregnancy may lead to foul-smelling urine (5).

Tips To Help Reduce Urine Odor During Pregnancy

Drink enough water to prevent foul-smelling urine.

Image: Shutterstock

The following tips can help you avoid foul urine smell during pregnancy.

  • Drink six to eight glasses, or 1.5 to 2 liters of water or other fluids every day. Consuming sufficient fluids can prevent dehydration and foul-smelling urine (5).
  • Maintain good hygiene to help prevent foul smells. For example, bathing regularly, wiping from front to back each time after peeing, using mild, non-fragrant soaps to clean the genitals, etc., can protect the vagina from infections and foul smells.
protip_icon Caution
Avoid douching to clean the vagina. It may disturb the vaginal pH and bacterial flora and make it prone to infection (9).
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar can help acidify the urine, reducing the foul smell from the urine.
  • Empty the urinary bladder frequently to prevent urinary stasis, which can lead to an increased risk of UTIs, bladder infection, cystitis, and bad odor.
Empty the urinary bladder frequently to reduce the risk of UTIs.

Image: Shutterstock

  • Avoid multiple sex partners and intercourse without male latex condoms to help prevent UTIs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that may cause smelly urine.
  • Probiotics are considered to be beneficial in promoting vaginal health for women. According to some clinical studies, consuming probiotics can help cure bacterial vaginitis and reduce its recurrence (6).
protip_icon Quick tip
Anecdotal evidence says lemon water helps increase urine output. It also helps to prevent kidney stones (7) (10). These factors may result in reduced urine smell.

Signs You Should Call The Doctor

See a doctor if you are not feeling well.

Image: Shutterstock

Call your healthcare provider if you notice any of these signs along with the foul smell of urine (7):

  • Blood in pee or vaginal discharge
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain in the back or under the ribs
  • A general feeling of not feeling well
  • Unusual lethargy
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Fever with or without chills
  • Low body temperature

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does my urine smell foul but no infection?

Lack of adequate hydration can cause peculiar or foul urine smell without infections. Certain medications, vitamin B6 supplements, and foods can cause smelly urine. Liver and kidney problems might also result in smelly urine. You may seek coexisting symptoms and medical care if needed (7).

2. What is a natural remedy for smelly urine?

Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to eliminate smelly urine. Avoid holding pee for a longer time and acidic foods that can irritate the bladder. To promote urinary system health, you may consume unsweetened cranberry juices and probiotics (8).

3. What are the other symptoms of a urinary tract infection during pregnancy?

In addition to foul-smelling urine, urinary tract infections may exhibit symptoms like discomfort while urinating, incontinence, pain in the bladder, frequent urge to urinate, and lower abdominal cramps (2). Promptly contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Timely medical intervention will help effectively treat/manage the condition.

Smelly urine during pregnancy may be uncommon but not abnormal. It can be due to the increased sense of smell, diet, or supplementations. So you need not worry much and keep your body water level up with proper hydration. However, consult your doctor immediately if the smell is accompanied by a burning sensation, pain, blood in urine, and other concerning symptoms. They may suggest an appropriate treatment plan and some effective home remedies in case of any underlying condition.

Infographic: Taking Care Of Your Bladder Health During Pregnancy

Among the several transformations your body encounters during pregnancy, changes in urinary routines are a prominent one. Considering the importance of following good urinary practices during pregnancy, we discuss the right habits that support a healthy bladder in the infographic below.

bladder health during pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Dehydration, certain supplements, and bacterial infections are some of the causes of smelly uring during pregnancy.
  • Staying optimally hydrated, maintaining personal hygiene, and frequent emptying of the urinary bladder could help reduce the odor.
  • Smelly urine isn’t usually a cause for concern unless accompanied by symptoms, such as lower abdominal pain, blood in urine, or fever with or without chills.
Smelly Urine When Pregnant_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. E. Leslie Cameron; (2014); Pregnancy and olfaction: a review.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915141/
  2. Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/urinary-tract-infections-during-pregnancy/
  3. BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS AND PREGNANCY.
    https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/pregnancy/bacterial-vaginosis-and-pregnancy
  4. Smelly urine.
    https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/conditions/smelly-urine
  5. How much water should I drink in pregnancy?
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/nutrition-in-pregnancy/how-much-water-should-i-drink-pregnancy
  6. Parvin Bastani et al, (2012); Dairy Probiotic Foods and Bacterial Vaginosis: A Review on Mechanism of Action.
    https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/39621
  7. Smelly urine.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/smelly-urine/
  8. The Best Home Remedies For UTIS.
    https://nafc.org/bhealth-blog/home-remedies-for-utis
  9. Douching.
    https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching
  10. 7 Reasons to Start Your Day With Lemon Water.
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-reasons-to-start-your-day-with-lemon-water-infographic/
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Dr. Ng Kai Lyn
Dr. Ng Kai LynMMed (O&G), MRCOG
Dr. Ng Kai Lyn is a Singapore-based obstetrician and gynecologist, specializing in urogynecology, minimally invasive surgery, and clinical interest in fertility. She has an experience of 12 years managing and treating benign gynecological conditions, including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometrial polyps, and endometriosis.

Read full bio of Dr. Ng Kai Lyn