Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

The Asparagus Aroma

By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD

Woman Running

It’s not news to any asparagus-addicts (asparaguys, perhaps?) that the crunchy, fiber-loaded veggie has an odorous outcome: pungent pee.

Truthfully, I’m new-ish to this veg. My mom raised us to be open to everything – everything except for asparagus. We were anti-asparagus to be exact. So when one of my best dude friends and biggest nutrition-challengers asked me about the asparagus-stench, I was clueless. And oh my gosh do I love finding uncharted nutrition territory.

So what’s up with the asparagus aroma? Asparagus contains sulfate compounds called methyl-mercaptan. It’s also found in those pungent veggies like onions and garlic. Your shnoz may also recognize the potent compound from less appealing sources like rotten eggs and the incomparable stink of a skunk.

While statistics range drastically, it seems between 50-90% of people don’t have the enzymes to fully break down mercaptan – giving you some especially pungent pee. It can affect asparagus-eaters as quickly as 15 minutes after consumption.

But (aspara)guys, it doesn’t end there! A very small and super lucky percentage (estimated 8-25%) of the population doesn’t have the ability to smell the volatile compounds from mercaptin at all. If you’re part of this group, you may never know the odorous issue.

Unfortunately, if your pee (or nose) seems to be especially asparagus-sensitive, there’s not much you can do. But don’t quit the veggie; the woody stalks are loaded with antioxidants and fiber that make it worth what’s temporarily in the toilet.

So are you sensitive to the asparagus-aroma? Does it affect the amount you eat? Any other foods give you “pungent pee”?


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


Subscribe to free WebMD newsletters.

  • WebMD Daily

    WebMD Daily

    Subscribe to the WebMD Daily, and you'll get today's top health news and trending topics, and the latest and best information from WebMD.

  • Men's Health

    Men's Health

    Subscribe to the Men's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, nutrition, and more from WebMD.

  • Women's Health

    Women's Health

    Subscribe to the Women's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, diet, anti-aging, and more from WebMD.

By clicking Submit, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices