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Avatar universal

persistent odor

For about a year I've had problems with a persistent, fecal-like, really offensive odor.  It started one morning when I was straining to have bowel movement (always had constipation, don't drink enough water).  I noticed almost complete numbness in that area, and ever since then have had feelings of incomplete evacuation, and this odor that I can't get rid of.  I've changed my diet, lots of water and fiber, I've tried chlorophyllin pills, charcoal pills, pills that are supposed to replenish intestinal flora, nothing helps the odor much, though.  I've also tried kegel exercizes.  I went to a doctor about this, had a sigmoidoscopy and catscan, which came back normal.  My doctor didn't know what else to try and didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal.  I would do anything to fix this, it's had horrible effects on my social life (some people are nice about it, some aren't.)  Could it be some kind of incontinence?  I'm very clean, it's not a smell like sweat or anything.  I'm 25, healthy otherwise, never had kids.  Any ideas you have about what this could be and what to do about it would be so appreciated!  Please help!
30 Responses
Avatar universal
Thank you for visiting the Family Practice forum.
Some forms of Vitamin K (water-soluble chlorophyll) help control body, fecal, and urinary odor. It sounds like you have already tried this to no avail. Most doctors are aware of this treatment. If this treatment doesn't work, in my experience, people either "live with it" or try alternative medications/treatments. The idea of increasing water and fiber is good as some people with chronic constipation and internal/external hemorrhoids will have problems with "leakage" from the rectum. The fact that your sigmoidoscopy was normal makes me think that there was likely no significant abnormality of the colon.
I have heard of one herbal remedy which you may want to speak with your doctor about. It is called "odor cleanse". You can find it at www.getvitamins.com  I realize this is not an FDA approved medication and before taking it, you should speak to your doctor. The problem you have, unfortunately, is that you have tried all "traditional" methods and have been thoroughly evaluated and continue to have the problem, therefore trying an "alternative" treatment may be worth a shot. I recommend this product based on 2 patients I have treated in the past with symptoms similar to yours. One improved significantly and the other stated it helped "a little".
I hope this helps!
Avatar universal
I was reading with much interest your question.  I have never heard of such a thing and cannot imagine how this has affected your life.  But I am also very confused about how this is happening.  I mean, usually we know where certain odors 'come from' or where they originate (for example, an under-arm odor from lack of deodorant, or a foot odor).  Where on earth is this odor you have coming from?  For some reason, I assumed from your question that it was maybe coming through your pores, but this probably isn't correct, is it?  I'm not understanding where it's coming from and why it can't be 'washed' off?  I'm sorry if this sounds naive but I just feel so badly for you and can't quite understand where it would be coming from in the first place.  I mean, all odors we give off have an origin.  Garlic will come through your pores, sometimes for a couple of days, if you eat enough of it.  Even if this odor you have is coming out the same way, why on earth would it?
Avatar universal
kellie, thanks for your sympathy.  The odor must be colon related, that's why I was thinking it was some kind of incontinence or something.  I've heard women sometimes have this problem after childbirth..but since I haven't had a kid, not sure what caused it in me.
Avatar universal
Do others notice this?  I mean, you said some people were nice, and others not.  Do the "not nice" people actually take you aside and tell you that you have a fecal odor about you?  The reason I am asking, is that my first husband developed this EXACT problem many years ago.  He went to many, many docs, had all the tests you mentioned (and then some).  He also thought other people noticed (he said some people made faces or grimaced when standing near him).  I never could smell anything odd or foul, though he stated many times to the doctors that "my wife smells it too".  
I insisted eventually that he see a therapist.  She tried him on a medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder.  She stated that sometimes people develop pervasive thoughts about odors.  To make a long story short, within 2 weeks, the "odor" was gone.

Just a thought.
Avatar universal
Most times I DON'T smell it because I'm used to it, but other people have told me about it (usually strangers).  When it's very bad I can smell it too.  I wish I were imagining it!
Avatar universal
I am stunned that complete strangers would tell you that you have a bad odor about your person.  How horrible!

I wish you good luck in getting rid of this.  I am a nurse, and deal with post partum women all the time.  This would absolutely NOT ever be something a woman would have after childbirth.  For any reason.  Even if the rectum were seriously damaged in childbirth (very rare), there would be no odor unless the woman was ACTIVELY leaking feces constantly.  If there is nothing on the outside of the body, there can be nothing there to produce odor.  Especially not for as long as you have had it.
Have you been to an OB-GYN?  There are vaginal infections that can produce a peculiar "fishy" odor.  

Did your doctor smell this?  Can you ask a trusted friend?  My husband was adamant for YEARS that he had this terrible odor; we went thru the wringer with not only the tests, but the special soaps, wipes, powders, diets, everything under the sun.  He would accuse me of being repulsed by his odor.  Nothing could be furthur from  the truth.  As I said, he insisted to his doctor that it was making ME sick, even.  He wasn't crazy; nor was he imagining it.  It was from untreated OCD.  
Good luck.  Tell the strangers who comment on your fecal odor exactly how rude they are.  I can't imagine (even if I smelled a foul body odor on someone) ever in a million years telling them, unless they were a good friend and I was concerned.  The odor must be absolutely overpowering for a stranger to notice it; so a doctor should be able to easily detect it.  

Keep us posted.  I know the hell my husband and I went thru.
Avatar universal
Until my own life was effected by this fecal-like smell I just did not realize the extent of this problem. About three years ago, it initially began with me being diagnosed with a Bacterial infection, which was treated. Unfortunately, I continue to have as i describe as passing "gas like smell from my vaginia".
I am please asking for anyone who have suffered or suffing from this to help shed some light. I would like to help my doctor diagnose this for once and all. I have spend thousand of dollars with inaccurate results. Yes the smell is real. Please help.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your support, christie.  My close friends have not said anything to me about the odor, but they're the type of people who never would, luckily.  The problem I had was sitting in class and people sitting next to me would say things about it.  It was so embarassing!  When it first started, and when it is very obvious, like I said before, I noticed it too.  It's not like it is horribly strong all the time, but it definitely smells kind of like cat litter.  Now because I can't smell it that well anymore, I'm always paranoid other people will notice but I won't, so in a way I can absolutely relate to how your husband must have felt.  btw, when I told my mom about this problem, she was absolutely sympathetic, but she didn't ever say "I've never noticed anything."...so..
To Dr. T, or anyone else who's also having this problem, could it possibly be descending perenium syndrome?  I have read about this, and it seems to fit my symptoms perfectly.  Is there any treatment available for it?  Would it show up on a cat scan?
Avatar universal
Ok, I am just totally confused by all of this.  Geena, you say yours started with a bacterial infection??  How on earth was it treated, and why would something like this start because of it?  My goodness, women and girls of all ages have had an infection at one time or another in their life, why would there be a 'gas' as you say emitting from that area of your body?  I mean, our bodies are just not made that way, we don't pass 'gas' from our vaginas, not unless there is something 'mechanically' wrong so to speak.  Has your doctor ever checked you for a fistula?  This is where one organ 'invades' another and they become 'connected'.  A common one would be bowel to vagina.  And I'm going to suggest the same thing to redo.  My goodness, this just isn't something that happens for the hell of it.  If this is honestly occuring in both of you, there's a reason, it doesn't just happen.  And excuse my lack of respect, but a doctor telling you to 'live with it' should be ashamed of himself.  
Avatar universal
I know nothing about your persistant odor and I really do feel
for you.  However, I do have a possible answer for your constipation.  Following years of problems I had a colonoscopy done.  My Dr. prescribed for me MIRALAX.  It is a powder you mix with your water, juice , I even mix mine with my diet coke!  It is flavorless.  It was a miracle to me!  I used it once daily for  a month or so.  then occasionally.  Now I have normal daily movements and rarely use it all!  Why more Dr.s' don't prescribe this miracle medicine I don't know!  but ask your Dr. about it adn maybe by some miracle your odor problem will subside with it!!   Good luck to you!
Avatar universal
Hello I came across this post while looking for any information on odors because for years I have been dealing with an odor I wash regularly and use all precautions deodorant, powders, perfumes and have used them in all degrees of intensity from barley there to swimming in it to mask whatever this is to no avail and I have been tested for infections and it always comes back negative I have been to doctors(dermatologist, psychiatrist) used everything under the sun and in response to an earlier post something to the effect of people commenting on others) I just wanted to say that people for the most part have been horrible to me because of this and people will be very insensitive and have come out in loud voice to inform all who is around you smell bad was the exact quote  so now its emotionally triggered because I am so afraid that when someone comes near me I feel it emitting from me what really gets my craw is that I have been taught that if you have/use good hygiene you will be clean and fresh how do you defend yourself when you no longer believe this to be true.
Avatar universal
I can understand where your coming from about the Fecal Odor.  My problem started about 8 months ago, constipation occasionally, then about 4 monnths ago I went to see a Gastro specialist, he did a test and found that my intestine was totally full.  He then lagged quite a bit, so I moved on the next Gastro specialist, in the mean time I went to see my Gyno, explain my problems to her, and she advised me to get off the Depo Shot. My last shot was due in Nov., I didn't get it, and within 1 week my symptoms had gone away.  Well, needless and sad to say they are back.  I have a colonoscopy scheduled for March, 03. I know what your going thru, I have a normal bowel movement every morning, but then around 3-4pm, while at work, my stomach get's really crampy, full, gassy, and I feel as though I have to go to the bathroom.  I try, but usually just rabbit form size is all I get.  The worst part is the smell, I don't get it, it's like I smell poop. I know other's at work can smell, they have to, but noone has ever said anything.  I go to the bathroom quite a few times trying, but nothing happens.  It's so embarrassing.  I actually hate the thought of 3pm coming every day.  Sometimes, I'll take a laxative in the morning before work, about 1pm it kicks in, and I go, and fortantely the smell never comes. It's horrible. I'm a very attractive young woman, and I just don't understand why this odor is happening to me. I took Miralax, nothing but gas produced by that, Charcoal tables help somewhat for a while, I've been drinking water, taking FiberCon, nothing seems to work. After I get home and I can then go to the bathroom, I feel better and the odor is gone, however, lately, in the past week or so, it seems to be worse.  Something else  notice, whenever I smoke a cigarette, I can smell the odor worse, it's the craziest thing I've ever seen.  I told my new Gastro Specialist about the odor, and she said there was nothing she could do and that we'd have to wait and see what the colonoscopy showed.  So I feel your embarrassment, I just don't understand why this is happening.
Avatar universal
Thanks so much, you guys, for your comments.  I'm so sorry this is happening to you too.  Please let me know if doctors' tests turn up anything for you.  I'm a little phobic of doctors now, personally, b/c they don't seem to have any answer for this.  

Have either of you experienced the numbness I was talking about in original post?  This seems like the most telling symptom to me.  It's really weird.  It's like I can't feel when I need to go to the bathroom or something.  And when I do go, afterward it feels uncomfortable, like there's always something left.  Sorry for the description :)
Avatar universal
I'm relieved to know there are others with this problem.  No matter how I cleanse the anal area, 4 to 6 times a day, it lasts for only a few minutes.  I've "suffered" from this for over 60 years and just thought it was normal, til I became aware of "oral sex" being the norm with even teens.  I realized noone would resort to that behavior, if they smelled like that.  I really think that the anal opening is "open" all the time and seeps mucous that causes the terrible odor.  I use two rolls of tissue a week, because there's always some left.  I gave up asking my Drs. over the years..never took it seriously.  
Maybe, on this forum, we can find an answer.  I hope!
Avatar universal
I'm 26 years old and I have the same problem as redo. The only difference is that I have two kids. It seems to me that my problem started a year after I had my first child. After all the constipation and straining I did, my ordor kept getting worst. I had ugly comments coming from people that don't even know how well I shower or how many times a day I shower.... to be more specific I shower about 3 times a day and clean my self with... you name it.. I've used it. I told my doctor about my condition and thought it was fiber I needed which I tried and it seems that the ordor just doesn't go away. I tried water,colon cleanses,diet,chlorophyl pills and it's just there. Recently I changed doctors. My other doctor thought it was just in my head so she prescribed zoloft for my depression and for a "cumpulsive disorder" she thought I had. Part of the depression is because you can't hardly be around other people like friends or in a public place without stinking. The worst part is that I'm a clean good looking woman but this condition makes me look like I'm a dirty individual. So I feel for Redo and all the others. I have an appointment for a pap on March along with a check up for a rectocele. I'll let you know if this check up is going to repair this depressive condition. Thanks for the support and information it's really helped me to take other measures.
Avatar universal
I am 23 years old and I have the same condition. I first noticed it about five years ago when I would get sweaty playing sports and stuff. However, now it's so bad that people can smell me after I just got out of the shower 30 minutes before. I went to the doctor twice about it and he doesn't know what to do so he is sending me to the gastrologist next week. I've never smelled the odor personally, or seen anything like leakage or felt any kind of discharge so it was difficult to admit to myself initially. It is very embarrassing. Even my friends will call me names and joke about it. My fiancee says she doesn't smell it, so I have thought it could be just psychological. But how can a person just start imagining that they smell like fecal matter all of the sudden? They can't. I'm not some kind of psycho, these problems are real. I've heard people whisper and joke about it plus children can sometimes be brutally honest. It really handicaps a person in a sense because you can't go in public like you used to or do the same things you once did. When are they going to see that this is a real problem? In all reality, the people that experience this condition, do more to clean themselves than the people who make fun of them I'm sure. Sometimes life isn't fair but oh well I'll still try to bring an end to this even if it kills me.

Avatar universal
Well, had the colonoscopy, all was clear in my colon except there were hemmoroids, I could even feel the one down near my anal area. They have been sent to the labs, but the doctor feels their is no cancer.

I am now on Zelnorm, this is a Medication for Women only with IBS and Constipation, also taking Colace, I've been told the odor should now go away, it was due to fecal being at the botton of my colon and the hemmoroids blocking the way, that's also the reason for narrow stools.  

Say a Prayer for me.... and I've been hoping for you too!

Try the Zelnorm, it replaces Serotonin in the body and helps put liquid into the colon.

Take care and I'll keep praying for your well being.
Avatar universal
Wow, it is so relieving to have other people with the same fecal-like odor as I.  I
Avatar universal
Well, I finally went to the Gastro specialists. He basically didn't take any of it seriously and said it was because of gas. He said that "out of all 10,000 books or so of medical information available, there's not a single mention of odor". In other words they're not exactly sure why this is happening. The jerk wouldn't even hardly answer any of my questions. I waited a month and a half just to get to talk to that guy and he couldn't give me a single moment to answer some of my questions. Oh well, I'm not going back to any more doctors for a while. I have found some success on my own however.  I've done some short cleansing fasts recently and while they haven't completely gotten rid of the odor when I get all sweaty, they do make me able to go in public like normal again. I won't take time to explain all of the details in this forum but in a nutshell, you just stop eating for a couple of days a drink lots of water. the body then begins to naturally cleanse itself from toxins that build up from overeating as we Americans love to do. I've also noticed that my bowel movements are much more normal and solid, my hemorroids have shrunken from lack of irritation, I've lost 6 pounds of pure fat in about a week, (Obviously-that's what happens when you don't eat for a while!) and I grew mentally and spritually closer to Jesus as I am a Christian. It has helped me see my life the way it really is and helped me overcome some great difficulties. Must warn you though, don't just take my advice, study it for yourself as it is not good nor healthy for everyone to do. Oh yeah, depending on who you ask, some doctors claim that there has never been any reliable proven changes by doing this-, that's what my doctor said anyway (But the results I've seen in my own life speak for themselves), I don't care what has or has not been proven. Hope this can help you.
Avatar universal
I almost felt like if I had gone insane.  I am in my early 20's. About 2 to 3 months ago I was informed by a friend that I had a fecal odor.  At that point in time I had severe stomach rumbling followed by diarrhea. My doctor informed me that I had IBS. After taking herbal medications the diarrhea has stopped, however the horrible odor still remains.  This occurs even though I bathe sometimes 4 times a day, scrub with a wash clothe and use antibacterial soap, powders, perfume and use herbal medicines for internal flora nothing seem to work.  Most of the time I am in a depressed state because I have to travel on public transportation and people make comments about how I smell and assume that I didn't bathe.  I am already dealing with the death of my one of my parents and being scorned and cursed certainly doesn't help especially when I have to go home to an empty house.  I have never had an odor problem before. I can certainly sympatise with those who have been through this for a long period of time because 2-3 months and I already feel like disappearing to some remote island by myself.  
My source of encouragement right now is mostly spiritual but I have certainly learnt to be appreciative of the simple things in life like being able to breathe, for sight and even realising that other people go through worse situations every day of their life.  I will say a special prayer for all of us.
Avatar universal
Before i went to the doctor to get a check up for a Rectocele....which was negative. I started feeling better about the ordor. I started completely changing my diet and taking a laxative that has a prune plant extract that was prescribed out of town. I stopped taking the fiber since the laxative is helping alot more than fiber. Fiber made me extremly gassy and now my gas is gone. My diet seemed to be one that was most effective for my condition. I stopped drinking soda,beer,stuff with alot of spices and junk food that made me constipated or with a feeling of not emptying the whole bowel movement. I drink lots of water and eat lightly. My feeling about why this ordor was there was because i wasn't emptying out all my bowels it felt as if it was coming out in parts. In other words it might have been impacted although i do blame the stuff that i ate... and made it difficult for me to have a b movement. Now I've been out and about with hardly any worries..i do check myself to see if i might be having the ordor but recently it's been a lot less to worry about. My advice is to change your eating habits as i know that having to work and having a busy life is  sometimes hard to have a home cooked meal....So don't give up and try something new...    

Avatar universal
Hi everyone,
I've been having similar symptoms to a lot of you with the persistant odor. Does anyone have the constant urge to go to the toilet after they've eaten a meal?
I've noticed that usually within half an hour after eating a full meal,I have the urge to go. When I do go, it feeels like incomplete evacuation or that maybe it could be hemerrhoids in that area. (it then goes away after a while)
I also have this constant odor around me which smells really weired, even after bathing etc.. and gets worse during the day.

I've tried many things like fybogel to bulk up the stools, eat lots of fruit and veg and drink plenty of water. But still know luck with the odor.
I even taken Zinc supplements which I read is good for getting rid of body odors...still no luck. I haven't tried charcoal or chlorophyl supplements yet, so they will be next on my list.

Does anyone clean the anal area internally with water (i've forgotten the technical word for that)?. I've noticed that when I do, the smell isn't as strong (but still present) as compared to when I don't. The problem however when doing that is that I feel more urgency to go to the toilet after a meals.

Avatar universal
im glad other people have this too , i thought i was the only one.  just like 'feelingalone' said, it does get horribly worse when i smoke (tobacco or marijuana).  and i agree with 'xitanec' with getting nervous and sweating down there as well as the mucus and the wet anus feeling.   guys and gals, we need to find a solution to this, i cant stay inside my house forever with this. it has been going on for 2 months around.
Avatar universal
I'm curious to know about what progress you all have made since your last posts. I myself am well acquainted with the devistation that body odor can bring upon one's life. I'm a firefighter and my profession requires me to live in close quarters with coworkers for 24 hour shifts. For anyone who's unfamiliar with the tyical firehouse enviroment, let met just tell you, you've got to have a thick skin because firefighters spare no mercy on one another when a weakness is discovered. Of course most of it is friendly banter, however sometimes it can really become personal. The rumor mill is quite active in a typical fire department and word spreads pretty fast from shift to shift,station to station. Reputations are everything. Everyone will be known for something. So you can imagine the difficulties I face everyday I report to work. I've been to the doctor off and on for about 5 years now with no answers.

Here are some possible solutions I've found through my own personal research. It appears that some people have found success with these. Condsider trying one or all of them:

1)"Scent Away"..this is a bright green liquid or bar soap used by hunters to remove human scent to allow them to get in close proximity to the hunted. Wal-Mart used to sell it..most hunting stores sell this or similar products
2)Tomato juice...drink and/or bath in it..nurses in assisted living facilities have reported that adding a cup or two to plain bath water twice a week dramatically reduces body odor of their patients. This remedy has been used for some time to treat patients who have been "skunked"
Others have reported driking an 8oz can a day for a week, balances the ph.  After the first week drink only as needed. Beware of the high sodium
3)Baking Soda...Some men use a small sprinkle of baking soda in their briefs in place of baby powder.
4)Odor Eaters...some have reported purchasing oder eaters and cutting them to fit in all four pockets if wearing pants
5)"Flat-D"...this is a flat nonintrusive odor absorbant pad that is specifically desiged to be warn inside underware. The fabric that it's made of some how incorporates activated charcoal and is supposed to be quite effective.There's a website for it.

Of course these are far fromm cures. They are however some simple ideas to help spark your own creativity until the medical profession gives a damn enough to take body odor seriously.
Good Luck everyone, hang in there, and keep posting!
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