What Causes a Strong Urine Odor?

Does your urine have a strong odor? This symptom can have a variety of causes. Here’s what you need to know about urine odor.


Did you know that the smell of your urine can sometimes be an indicator of disease? Uncontrolled diabetics often have a fruity odor to their urine due to the high levels of ketones in their urine. Urine odor can also be related to how much water you’ve been drinking. When you’re well hydrated and the urine is dilute and light in color, there’s usually no obvious odor. What if your urine has an odor? Should you be concerned about a strong urine smell?

One common cause of a strong urine smell is simple dehydration. If you exercise outdoors in the heat and fail to replace the fluids lost through sweating, the urine can become quite concentrated and dark in color with a strong urine smell which may be described as an ammonia urine smell. This is usually easily corrected by increasing fluid intake until the urine becomes more dilute.

Another cause of an ammonia urine smell can be an underlying urinary tract infection. Infections of the urinary tract are considerably more common in women with over half of all women experiencing at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime. They’re less commonly seen in men and, when present, can indicate an underlying medical problem. A urinary tract infection can usually be easily detected by sending a urine sample to the laboratory for testing. The presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the urine usually indicates infection.

Sometimes a strong urine smell can be caused by medications, vitamins or nutritional supplements, or even something you’ve eaten. Asparagus is notorious for causing a disagreeable urine odor. This is caused by the way the body metabolizes the asparaginic acid found in asparagus.

In women, urine odor may actually originate from the vagina, indicating an underlying vaginal infection. One of the more common causes of vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis, gives rise to a fishy odor which can be mistaken for a strong urine smell. In most cases when bacterial vaginosis is present, there will be other symptoms including vaginal itching and burning along with the odor. Less commonly, a strong urine odor can be caused by liver disease or rare genetic diseases.

What should you do if you detect a strong urine smell? Try increasing your fluid intake first. If the odor fails to go away with fluids and you haven’t been eating asparagus, it may be time to see your doctor for a urinalysis. Most causes of a strong urine smell can be diagnosed by running a few simple tests on the urine.

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  1. nice write.

  2. Quite informative besides offering solutions too.Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this health info.

  4. Nice Article. Coffee is another contributing factor to a strong urine odor. I agree with the doctor that being hydrated reduces the potential risks associated with the various bacterial infections that can occur. Reducing and/or eliminating your intake of carbonated soft drinks can also help you avoid potential problems.

  5. very nice article! it’s so true. one should really be studying their urine and stools regularly and the frequency rate too.

  6. I have an issue with strong smelling urine. It is always during the last two days of my period, and it feels as if I am leaking. Its only when I’m menstruating or near the end of my menstruation cycle. It sometimes soaks the crotch of my pants and the tampon itself takes on a yellowsh tinge, Its very strong and noticeable and I have no idea whats causing this.

  7. very good article

  8. Im having the same problem as Leslie…I noticed my urine stain had red outlines, im using a tampon so it couldnt have come from their….Im dissapointed noone left a reply to leslies comment.

  9. Thank you. Can you please let me know if this strong smell can be avoided.My husband smells very badly from this urine odour.Even if he just passe by, you can get the smell.It is really very embarrasing.Please let me know what should be done to normalise this.He is a diabetic.

  10. Great article. I have been eating asparagus :-) !!!

  11. hello, pls. i want to know what might be the cause of my smelling urine,it’s since i had unprotected sex.
    Hope to hear from you soon….

  12. well I am also having problems, i belive my problems are ethier all or one of these diabetic, I DO have high sugar, unianary tract infection, I HAD yeast infection over & over again, That has finally went away , *( well might show up again when next menstral cycle !?) I KNOW that is from my uncontrolled high sugar, and I also got a abnormal panel back on my liver, so now I am really worried, and I have to go back in for more test. TO the leakers…. ABOVE ~ Your answers will be best helped when you see a UROLOGIST ~ that type f dr can help you and tell you what is going on. See I also have my bladder & anus dropping ( falling down ) I am young , early 30’s. but have ALL these and MORE health problems. and I also have medicaid right now for insurance thank god… but without that I am broke with no help. I do ALOT of research on my own, and read medical books to help . Your DR’s are NOT mind readers , you have to TELL them EVERY aspect you belive that could’ be affecting your symptoms.
    *( to the reply abotu after sex urine, ) SOUNDS’ like you got a urinary tract infection, guys can pass that from one woman to the next without actually having it thiersleves. Or it could also be a symptom of a STD. SO DEF get your OBGYN, or even a family phys. to look at that and test you . Hope this helps everyone, and I hope MY results end up ok and better , I am praying 2010 IS a better year for me .

  13. have him drink LOTS of water, and AVOID soda. I an sure this will help, also see if he has a leakage problem, a URologist can help him with all of this . HTH ~ (hope this helps)

  14. K check it out, my urin smells to me like vitamins really strong ones. I have tried the water thing and been to the doctor several times they just keep telling me I don’t have a uti, should I ask them to test for something else? I have had this smell for about a year, there is no pain but I have also noticed that my periods are not regular and last from 3 days to 8 days and about half way through the blood turns from bright to dark then brown, all started about the same time. Any Ideas?

  15. sometimes if you have unprotected sex and wash your “private” right after it can cause a urinary tract infection especially if the man “cums” in you and you dont wash it off right after sex. so if your urine smells after having unprotected sex you should go to the doctor because more then likly it is a UTI and if not treated properly it could cause a kidney infection.

  16. My urine is very strong it started when I had unprotected sex and hasn’t gon away…I’m going to the doctors but I’m scared…

  17. thanks

  18. do any one know what could be wrong when all i can smell is strong urine but none present

  19. To the period leakers;
    I had the same problem and looked into urine dribbling, which seemed to fit the bill better than urine odor. Leaking/dribbling can be caused by a partial blockage of the urethra, as in, your tampon. Try taking your tampon out to pee, and see if that helps. I found my tampon was causing the problem, as long as I pee without it in the problem corrects itself. Hope this helps.

  20. This may sound weird- my urine smells like a foul odor similar to smells I have experienced in the town I live. The city has a chemical plant where the different types of toxins and odors escape from the factory. Is it possible that living in this city has caused my body to excrete similar odors? Its normally later in the evenings when I start to experience a noticeable change in odor. Someone please help.

  21. woooooooooooooooow.

  22. Great article – i think most people have probably experienced a smell from their urine at some time or other, the main thing is to understand what the main causes are, for example dehydration to start with. Once you know that, you can address it and stop worrying unnecessarily.

  23. I only smell the unpleasant strong urine smell when I go to the bathroom. Should I try drinking water? Or go to the dr.?

  24. I was searching for a reason of my urine bad smell, and I was thinking that the only difference in my ordinary life was eating asparagus recently, but I couldn’t connect it to my problem. Your article proved me right :) thank you very much for useful information.

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