Sure, number two sessions aren't supposed to smell good—but here's why some smell (way) worse than others.

By Krissy Brady
Updated March 13, 2020

Anyone who's had to bust out air freshener after a number two session knows that some visits to the throne can be more potent than others. While it's no secret that poop is supposed to smell bad, a next-level nasty aroma could be a sign that something's off with your digestive system. So if you leave the bathroom wondering "why does my poop smell so bad," look into one or more of these possible culprits. (And BTW, there is a *right* way to poop.)

You Eat a Lot of Meat

When you eat foods that are high in sulfur—such as meats, dairy, garlic, and cruciferous veggies (think: broccoli, cabbage, kale)—your gut works overtime to digest them and produces a larger amount of the gasses that make your poop smell. "Even with normal digestion, these foods will lend an eggy aroma to stool," says Anish Sheth, M.D., author of What's Your Poo Telling You? Translation: Avoid sulfur-rich foods on a first date.

You're Lactose Intolerant

If things get explosive every time you dig into your fave ice cream, you could be lactose intolerant. "Lactase is an enzyme that breaks lactose down to make it easier for your body to digest," explains Niket Sonpal, M.D., assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. "If you lack the lactase enzyme or produce an insufficient amount, bacteria in your large intestine causes the undigested lactose to ferment and produce foul-smelling gas and stools." Put the kibosh on the discomfort and lingering thoughts of "why does my poop smell so bad?" and "I hope my co-workers don't notice the aroma in that stall" by cutting back on dairy products, switching to lactose-free options, or popping lactase enzyme tablets (such as Lactaid) just before a meal or snack. (And if you feel the urge to poop mid-run, you're not alone.)

You Ate Too Much Junk Food

Eating fatty or processed, sugary foods can make your poop smell awful, says Gina Sam, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. Some people lack the digestive enzymes necessary to fully break down fats, which can delay the digestion process. The longer the food sits around, the more digestive gasses your bod will produce, which will make your number two sessions that much smellier. Meanwhile, processed foods contain oodles of synthetic ingredients that can give the digestive system a hard time. Best to steer clear of these culprit foods as much as possible, says Sheth.

You're Taking Medication

If you're sick and frantically searching "Why does my poop smell so bad" before your roommate gets home from work, your medicine may be to blame for that not-so-pleasant aroma. "Many times medications are coated with indigestible sugars such as sorbitol, which can ferment and make your poop smell funky," says Sonpal. Sorbitol can be found in some ibuprofens, ZzzQuil, and even prenatal vitamins.

"If you note running to the bathroom after starting a new medication, it may be worth talking to your doctor about finding an alternative formulation."

Your Gut's Out of Whack

The over-arching theme for foul-smelling poop is malabsorption, says Sonpal, which occurs when your body's unable to absorb the proper amount of nutrients from the foods you eat. "If you're unable to break down and digest certain nutrients, they rot and smell really bad on the way out," he explains. These "omg-why-does-my-poop-smell-so-bad" situations can be caused by any number of things, such as a gluten allergy or a bacterial overgrowth in your intestines. "Most conditions that cause foul-smelling stools are treatable," says Sonpal. "However, some diseases may require lifelong changes to your diet, or medications to control bowel movements and pain."(Related: What Is the Squatty Potty and Does It Really Work?)


Be the first to comment!