The Doctor Is In: Stinky Pee

"Hm. That doesn't smell right..."

Got a health question? Don’t trust those “Doctors” at the University Health Center? Are you scared of Web M.D. because it always tells you you’re gonna die? Ask a real doctor, our friend Dr. Lissa Rankin. She’s here every Thursday to answer whatever you throw at her – like the ultimate cure for a hangover! – so ask away. Leave your question in the comments or send it over to us. Don’t be shy; she’s waiting for ya!

Q: After unprotected sex I noticed my urine becoming really smelly on a consistent basis, which is a new thing for me. There are no other symptoms-no burning or itching or anything, just the smelliness when I pee. Could this be an STD??

A: Usually, healthy urine has almost no odor (unless you’ve been feasting on asparagus or other foods or vitamins that are known offenders).  If you are dehydrated, your urine will be more concentrated and may have a stronger smell. Also, if bacteria have contaminated the normally sterile urinary system, which happens when you have a urinary tract infection, you may notice an odor.

Most of the time, when women approach me complaining of foul-smelling urine, they’re actually smelling their vagina. If you have a vaginal infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomonas vaginalis, you may notice that your vaginal discharge, when it mixes with your urine, smells icky.

While it could be a sexually transmitted disease, such as trichomonas infection, which causes a vaginal infection characterized by a foul-smelling odor, most STD’s do not cause your urine to smell. Sex however, can trigger urinary tract infections, and infected urine may smell icky.

I would suggest a visit to the gynecologist. Make sure they check out your vagina, as well as your urine, to make sure there are no infections either place. And if you’ve had unprotected sex, go ahead and get tested for everything while you’re there. You can set a good example for your partner and feel more secure about next time.

–Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in Fall 2010. She invites you to join her Pink online community ( or read more of her writing at Owning Pink (

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