October 16, 2018

Constantly wet undies with ammonia smell?

wet undies
Ask The Doctor > Urinary Tract Infection > Constantly wet undies with ammonia smell?

Patient: I constantly have wet undies and it is embarrassing and I can’t figure out what’s going on. This has been going on for almost a year. There is no vaginal discharge that I can physically see: like clumpy, thick, mucous, etc. The only possibility of a discharge is the discoloration that is happening to my underwear if I don’t wear a pad or pantyliner to protect them. I notice a yellow-grey stain on them. And this is an every day thing, not just right before or after my period or anything. I don’t know if the wetness (and the stain in my underwear) is coming from my vagina or urethra. But there is a strong ammonia smell in my underwear after a few hours of wearing a clean pair of panties. However, the general wetness I experience starts as soon as 10 minutes after putting them on. If it was just wetness going on with no odor, I’d think it was just sweat… and that would be fine. But the strong ammonia smell is what I can’t figure out. I’m clean shaven down below. I thought if the odor had nothing to “grab” onto, it would solve the problem, but it hasn’t. I’m 27. Female. I’m not pregnant, never been pregnant. I’ve been on the pill (Yasmin) for 5 years. I am overweight and have been all my life, but I never experienced this before. I’m currently not sexually active and haven’t been for over a year. I’ve been trying everything: changing my diet, drinking water ALL the time, cutting out soda, taking vitamins… which I do normally. What’s going on?

Doctor: Thank you for your question. I know it can be frustrating to have constantly wet undies. Your discharge could be coming from either the vagina or urethra. It is difficult to be certain of this without a physical exam. The ammonia-like odour that you have noticed may indicate that you may be suffering from a sub-clinical urinary tract infection or vaginal infection. What this means is that you may have have an infection in these areas but the symptoms of dysuria, urgency and blood in the urine may not be present, yet. Please see your doctor to conduct an exam as well as urine test to determine if you have a sub-clinical infection. Once diagnosed, you will need to be treated with a course of antibiotics to clear this infection. Thank you for choosing Ask The Doctor.



Comments / Follow Ups

Doctor: Yes, it is possible to be due to hormones. The patient in the question is talking about an ammonical smell which makes me suspect an Urinary tract infection with some dribbling of urine.

The urine is broken down by bacteria which can break down ammonia and cause the smell. A physical defect in the urethra or incontinence can also cause the underwear wetness.

The hormonal level changes can cause increased secretion from the vagina. This is what might be causing the wetness. Another cause can be sweating which occurs in some people from the area in the groin.

If the problem of wet undies continues, you should see a gynecologist and if the gynecologist is not able to reach a conclusion, please see a general physician for further guidance.

Patient: Thank you Doctor, my wet undies problem is decreasing

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Dr. Jimmy Obaji M.D.

Dr. Jimmy Obaji completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He currently operates a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

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