Why Does Poop Smell? 8 Possible Reasons

Morgan Moran | 05 Apr, 2024

Why Does Poop Smell? 8 Possible Reasons

Poop’s pungent smell is caused by the bacteria that break food down during digestion.

Why Does Poop Smell? 8 Possible Reasons

05 Apr, 2024


I know you like to think your sh*t don’t stink but guess what? It does. And sometimes, it stinks real bad! Don’t worry. All poop stinks. But have you ever wondered why? What makes the foul stench of our bowel remnants reek with such otherworldly malodor! Let’s unpack this. 

How Poop is Made 

Every smell has an origin story. After food enters your stomach, it is mixed with digestive juices that travel to your small intestine. More juices from your pancreas, liver, and intestine join the party and push the mixture forward. 

Digested nutrients enter your bloodstream as the slurry moves into the large intestine. Here’s where 700 species of bacteria work overtime to pack every last nutrient into your body. Finally, the large intestine absorbs water from the digested waste and stores whatever’s leftover until it’s ready to be released. As poop

What Makes Poop Stink

Poop’s pungent smell is caused by the bacteria that break food down during digestion. Organic compounds skatole and thiols, along with amines and carboxylic acids, create a sulfurous eau de toilette you can almost taste.

Also? Smell is subjective. The reason you can read Fitzgerald amongst your stink bombs yet gag while smelling your partner’s is because your body, in theory, is protecting you from the sickness or infection feces can spread.

Symptoms associated with especially stinky stools can include: 

  • Farting 
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Bloating

If you experience any blood in your stool, black or pale stool, fever, chills, or unexplained weight loss, it’s best to talk to your doctor. 

8 Possible Causes of Foul Smelling Poop

#TFW you drop a plop so gnarly you have to clutch your own pearls. While all poop smells, big swings in stank can be a reflection of recent lifestyle changes or a sign of something going on with your body. 

1. Malabsorption 

Any number of conditions can cause your body to struggle to absorb enough nutrients. You could have a food intolerance, a bacterial overgrowth in your gut, or a more chronic issue, like IBS.

As a result, food may be passing through your body too quickly (aka undigested) with an unprecedented stench.

Conditions associated with malabsorption include: 

  • Celiac Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis 
  • Liver Disease
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth 
  • Chronic Pancreatitis
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Short Bowel Syndrome
  • Lactose Intolerance 
  • Carbohydrate Intolerance 
  • Blood in Stool from Stomach or Intestine 

Call your health care provider if you have black or pale stools often, blood in your poop, changes in your bowels movements related to your diet, chills, cramping, fever, pain in the abdomen, or weight loss. 

2. Eating Foods With Sulfur

Some ghastly plops are simply down to diet. Foods high in sulfur are great for your skin and hair, while also helping support blood and digestive function. The downside? Stinkgate.

Sulfur-rich foods include: 

  • Cruciferous Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, and sprouts.
  • Animal Protein such as red meat, poultry, fish, pork, and eggs. 
  • Dairy aka the ultimate double-crosser which contains sulfur and lactose. 
  • Dried Fruits which utilize sulfur to preserve the fruit. 
  • Alliums like onions and garlic, which are high FODMAP foods that can cause a reaction in those with gut sensitivities.   

3. Eating Foods High in Sugar 

Heavily processed foods with added sugar can disrupt the digestion process. The longer the food sits around, the more digestive gasses your body produces, the more it smells like you’re farting out a butt demon.

A lot of “healthy” foods contain a surprising amount of hidden sugar, often exceeding more sugar per serving than cookies and ice cream! Pay close attention to the sugar content in your:

  • Pasta Sauce 
  • Granola Bars 
  • Yogurt 
  • Instant Oatmeal 
  • Salad Dressings and Condiments
  • Breakfast Cereals

On the flip-side, sugar-free foods with alcohols like sorbitol (often found in gum) can have a laxative effect.

4. Eating Foods High in Fat 

A high-fat diet can overwhelm your digestive system, and your gut may not be able to break down all the fat consumed. Fat that can’t be absorbed will pass to your colon undigested, leaving you to deal with smelly fatty stools science calls steatorrhea.

High-fat foods include: 

  • Anything Fried/Fast 
  • Red Processed Meats like bacon and sausage. 
  • Animal Skin 
  • Butter, Ghee, or Lard
  • Chocolate, Cakes, and Pastries 

5. Taking Certain Medications

Some prescriptions can cause intense gas and diarrhea. For example, after taking antibiotics, you may have stanky sh*ts until your bacteria flora is back to normal. And if you’re on any hormones, your stool may be moving through your body at different speeds, causing malabsorption or (surprise!) more smelly diarrhea.

If you notice your BM stench is riper than usual, think about what medications you’re currently taking and read up on the side effects. Ain’t no shame in calling your pharmacist or DMing your doctor with questions. 

6. Your Supplement Routine 

Taking some over-the-counter multivitamins may cause stinky poops if you’re allergic to the supplements’ ingredients. Smelly diarrhea can also be a side effect of taking more than the recommended daily dose of a multivitamin or any single vitamin or mineral.

Too much of any of these vitamins can have serious effects that stink up your routine more than your daily sh*t: 

  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • DMPS
  • DMSO
  • Epsom salts
  • Garlic
  • Glucosamine sulfate
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Milk thistle
  • MSM
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
  • Taurine
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

7. Drinking Too Much Alcohol 

Ever produce a hangover poop that made you question how anyone could love you? High blood alcohol levels don’t just affect your liver, they also impact your stomach and intestinal flora. 

Alcohol also contains a lot of sulfates, which signals your colon bacteria to create sulfide gasses. One more fun reality to toast: Booze is incredibly dehydrating, pulling water from your colon which can result in smelly, harder to pass poos. Always drink in moderation and double-fist with water!

8. Infections

We already know healthy gut bacteria gives you poop its baseline scent. Abnormal bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections can unleash an unholy stench––which is why it’s important to pay attention to your poop-fume.

Infections that can affect digestion and cause foul-smelling stool or diarrhea include: 

  • Salmonella from improperly prepared or contaminated food.
  • Giardiasis, which is a tiny parasite found on surfaces in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with feces from infected people or animals. 
  • C Diff, a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. difficile can cause poops to smell extremely bad. 
  • Intestinal Infection, which can be accompanied by an abscess, severe abdominal pain, cramping, and bloody stools. 

Call your health care provider if you have black or pale stools often, blood in your poop, changes in your bowels movements related to your diet, chills, cramping, fever, pain in the abdomen, or weight loss. 

Fishy vs Eggy vs Sweet

Let’s play what does that smell mean?   

Fishy Poops: If your BMs smell like tuna, you might have a bacterial infection, food poisoning, and/or very likely, the sh*ts. The most important thing to do is rehydrate and replenish your fluids. If your diarrhea is extreme, it’s wise to seek medical attention.

Eggy Poops: If your poop smells like sulfur, you are likely eating foods that have a high-sulfur content. Cruciferous veggies, animal protein, garlic, and onions could result in some unpleasant smelling bathroom experiences.

Sweet Poops: “Sweet smelling” poop?! Yes, it can happen. But it’s not the type of sweet that you’d want to eat. It’s the kind of sweet that’s similar to how horse sh*t smells. It is most likely caused by the bacterial infection, Clostridium difficile also known as C. Diff.

How To Prevent the Apoo-calypse 

While there is nothing you can do to make your poop smell like roses, you can turn the stink volume down by:  

  • Eating whole, less processed foods 
  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Keeping a food diary to monitor BM changes
  • Staying active/eating fiber to encourage regular bowel movements
  • Taking meds and supplements as advised 
  • Cooking your meals properly to avoid risk of Salmonella 
  • Maintaining a healthy gut biome with pre- and probiotics
  • Keeping your bum sparkling clean between stinks 

  • Conclusion

    Poop smells. It always has and it always will. But you know what your poop normally smells like, so if you notice any extreme changes in your odor, your body may be trying to tell you something. And just because your poop stinks, your butt doesn’t have to. TUSHY’s bidet attachments will make sure your poop stench doesn’t follow your butt around once you’ve let it go.

    Frequently Asked Questions 

    What is healthy poop supposed to smell like?

    Everyone’s poop smells like a different brand of barnyard. What’s important is monitoring sudden changes in your signature waft. If you’re suddenly noticing fishy, tarry, or especially sweet-smelling poos, you may want to talk to your doctor to rule out an infection or health condition. Eggy poops are typically diet related.

    How do I stop my poop from smelling?

    Smell-free poop is impossible, because all healthy poop contains organic compounds from digestive bacteria. However, if you stay hydrated, eat mostly whole foods, and drink alcohol in moderation, your stench should be acceptable. If you’re on any meds that are causing unpleasant #2s, talk to your doctor about alternatives. 

    What does it mean if your poop doesn’t smell bad?

    It likely means you’re nose-blind to your own aroma! Smell is suggestive, so if you’re not picking up on any heavy aromas, chances are your poop is status-quo. 

    How do I make my poop not smell bad in public?

    Keep essential oil drops on hand for the toilet water or do a courtesy flush!

    Uplevel your hole bathroom experience.


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