What Are Farts and Why Do They Smell?

Are they smellier than usual? More frequent? Here's what it means.

One of the outcomes of gas moving through the digestive tract can be the development of farts, also known as flatulence. Farts are generally normal, but you may have more flatulence than usual or smelly farts. Read on to learn more, including when to see a healthcare provider.

Alex Sandoval

How Can Farts Happen?

Farts occur when gas moves out of your digestive system through your anus. That gas can come from one of the following two sources:

  • Swallowed air: A primary source of gas in the stomach from eating, drinking, and swallowing saliva
  • Bacterial production: Formed gases, such as carbon dioxide or methane, from bacteria digestion of some carbs

Is Farting Good for You?

Farting throughout the day and night is largely a good thing, as it's a way to release trapped gas. If you could not experience flatulence, the gas buildup would lead to uncomfortable bloating.

Why Am I Farting So Much?

Carbonation, intolerances to food, and even stress can result in increased flatulence.


Carbonated drinks like seltzer, soda, and carbonated booze, such as beer and hard seltzer, could be culprits for increased gas. Carbonation can introduce more air into your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

If you're not sure your carbonation habit is the cause, record your intake, including when gas is a problem. Bring it to a healthcare provider, who can help suss things out and recommend alternative beverages that don't lead to farting.

Food Intolerance

Farts accompanied by abdominal pain or discomfort after eating could be attributed to food intolerance. For example, you may have lactose intolerance, which means your body doesn't digest the sugar in dairy well.

Other than farts and abdominal pain, additional GI symptoms that accompany food intolerances can include abdominal distension, bloating, and diarrhea.


Excess stress can affect your farts. Stress can make you gulp and swallow more air without intending to do so. You can practice de-stress techniques like mindful meditation and deep breathing, which can keep you from swallowing excess air.

Why Do My Farts Smell So Bad?

By nature, farts don't smell great. However, really smelly farts can be the result of a person's diet or menstrual cycle.


Unpleasant-smelling gas can result from eating foods with sulfur, such as cheese, nuts, and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower. Sulfur is part of what causes flatulence to smell bad.

In most cases, the smell is nothing to worry about. If it persists, you might want to see a healthcare provider. One article pointed out that the smell may be linked to inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Menstrual Cycle

You might be having period farts, which typically strike right as your flow is due to begin.

Like everything else menstruation-related, it's hormonal: As estrogen rises at this time of the month, your uterus produces hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins. Increased levels of prostaglandins can result in worse GI symptoms.

Bacterial changes during this time of the month also affect digestion. It's possible that can leave you with smellier farts as well.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

It's generally normal to experience farting as part of the digestive process. However, consult with a healthcare provider if you have:

  • A sudden change in symptoms
  • Additional symptoms such as stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, or weight loss
  • Bothersome gas-related symptoms
  • Stools that are bloody, foul-smelling, or oily

Tips for Preventing Farts

If you want to reduce the likelihood of increased gas, consider the following:

  • Chew food thoroughly and slowly
  • Limit carbonated drinks, chewing gum, or gas-producing foods when possible
  • Take a post-meal, 10-to-15-minute walk
  • Try to relax while eating

A Quick Review

Farting may seem embarrassing, but it's a normal part of everyone's life. Farts occur because of gas, created by swallowing air or bacteria breaking down carbs, escaping the digestive system.

Some individuals may find themselves farting because of factors such as food intolerances, stress, or their menstrual cycle. However, you should see a healthcare provider if your farts come with other symptoms, such as stomach pain or bloody stools.

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10 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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