Why Does My Pee Smell After Eating Asparagus?


All cards on the table. Pee has a distinctively funny smell after eating asparagus. It's ok, you don't have to pretend you don't know what we're talking about. Sometimes you might forget that you ate asparagus until that unpleasant reminder that comes rising from the toilet.


So, what the devil is that smell... and why doesn't it even smell like asparagus?!


The distinctive smell is actually thought to come from the metabolism, or breaking down, of asparagusic acid. This component of asparagus is broken down into sulfur-containing compounds, like methanethiol, which is one of the most potent smells in asparagus wee. These compounds evaporate very easily, which is why the smell hits your nose so readily.


Funnily enough, your asparagus pee could be a smelly cocktail completely unique to you. This is because everybody will metabolise the proteins in asparagus differently, giving off a slightly different whiff. *Would not recommend asking to smell someone else's asparagus wee, please just take our word for it.


Not only can the Eau de Asparagus differ with metabolism, but also your sense of smell. If you can't smell it, it's impossible to know whether it's your sense of smell or you just don't produce enough of the smelly metabolites.


If you can't smell asparagus pee you are probably wondering what we are talking about and you may have your parents to thank for that. Researchers have managed to isolate a tiny portion of DNA which is associated with the ability to smell the odour.


So, the next time you eat asparagus, take note of whether your pee smells funny or not (strangest homework ever!).


Head over to our social media (@wonkscience) to answer our asparagus pee poll and see if you are in the minority!

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