Skin-Care Tips

This Is Why Your Butt Smells a Certain Way, According to an Anal Surgeon

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Photo: Getty Images/Westend61
It's officially not weird to check out your own butthole. In fact, doctors recommend it as a way to get to know more about one of your most intimate body parts. But if a new level of familiarity has left you uncomfortably acquainted with the way your anus smells, you might be having a few less-than-pleasant thoughts. Fear not—if you're wondering, why does my butt smell, and how do I stop my bum from smelling, an anal surgeon can explain everything you need to know.

Here's a fun fact: Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of Future Method, explains that as far as odors go, your anus smell is similar to your armpit. "They're both hard-to-reach areas, there's not a lot of air, there's hair, and there's moisture," he says. "So all of those things combined with sweat glands in the area can affect the smell." Body parts that aren't exposed to air are more likely to have a scent (if you think about the B.O. hot spots on your body, they all have that in common), and it just so happens that both the armpit and butt area are hotspots for pheromones, your body's natural scent.

Of course, there's one big factor that makes the anus smell different than an armpit: Poop comes out of it. "When you think about smell [from the butt], everyone's minds go right to poop," says Dr. Goldstein. So it's understandable (though unnecessary) if you're feeling a bit squeamish while asking, How do I stop my bum from smelling?  If it's a hygiene issue that you're worried about, Dr. Goldstein recommends either using a bidet or taking a shower post-poop to maintain the freshest scent and best overall butt health.

Speaking of poop, here are some foods that can help ease constipation if you're in a pinch: 

If you want to use those showers for the sake of an exceptional smelling derriere, consider opting for a body or butt scrub to slough off dead skin cell buildup and debris—but be careful with any other products you apply to the area in the name of eliminating anal smell. "A lot of people augment smell with different oils or lotions, and I am all for that," says Dr. Goldstein. He's a huge proponent of a nighttime shower combined with regular use of a gentle exfoliant. "The purpose of a body scrub is to create a really good environment for healthy tissue, but also for a really good lingering smell."

Outside of the shower (read: on the day-to-day), you'll want to be sure to keep the area as dry as possible, which is where your underwear choice comes into play. "Moisture can be trapped if you're wearing older underwear," says Dr. Goldstein, who stresses that aeration is key for a better smelling anal area. "The purpose of many of the newer pairs of underwear is aeration, which allows things to dry— especially if you're sweating," he says. Dryness is important because moisture can lead to a buildup of bacteria or fungus... which will not smell great. Change your breathable underwear frequently, especially post-gym. Or better yet—consider going commando. "Some people don't wear underwear at all, and the aeration is better, especially during summer months where there's so much moisture in that area that this smell may dissipate."

And, while this might sound like a given, it's perfectly reasonable to evaluate your hygiene habits to make sure you're cleaning yourself correctly. For instance, you should wipe front to back using several wads of toilet paper if necessary, but resist the urge to use wet wipes, Dr. Goldstein previously told Well+Good. "People tend to use wet wipes and then pull up their pants, so what happens is that the moisture sits there," said Dr. Goldstein. "The moisture just festers, and it causes a change in bacteria and leads to irritation." This is basically the opposite of what you're after.

And, if you're noticing a sudden change in how your bum smells—if there's a fishy or foul-smelling order accompanied by discharge—or if you're dealing with other issues like pain, fever, and gastrointestinal issues, you might need to chat with a doctor to rule out hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, or other health conditions.

Never even considered how your butt smells? Fair. Butts aren't supposed to smell like daisies, and doing nothing for the sake of bettering your anal smell is a-okay too. "There are so many different camps of people," says Dr. Goldstein. "Some people don't use deodorant, and they love their natural scent. A lot of people like to be able to smell their partner and understand their natural smell." In other words: To each their own.

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