Does sertraline make your urine smell bad? (3+ factors at play)

In this article, we will discuss whether sertraline makes your urine smell bad or unusual. We will also discuss what the research suggests and what factors may affect your urine smell while taking sertraline. We will also discuss what one should do if that happens. 

Does sertraline make your urine smell bad?

No, sertraline does not necessarily make your urine smell bad or unusual. 

Sertraline is not typically known to affect the smell of urine or change it in any way (1). 

Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor primarily used as an antidepressant (2,3). This medication may affect urinary functions, although not considered common, but has nothing to do with its smell. 

It is important to note that people are different and have different underlying factors affecting their health. If your urine smells any different or unusual, please discuss it with your doctor. Doing so can help rule out any underlying condition affecting the smell of your urine.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on the effects of sertraline on urine smell and there isn’t any specific research study suggesting this as a potential side effect of this antidepressant. However, sertraline can affect urine functions in some individuals. 

All SSRIs are associated with urinary side effects, like frequent urination, to some extent. One research study estimated that out of every 1000 patients treated with SSRI, at least 15 of them experience urinary incontinence (4). 

Some other research studies have also indicated that sertraline can cause severe urinary incontinence in some people, which could be dangerous for some people and may require drug discontinuation to resolve completely (5). 

This indicates that sertraline can cause altered urinary functions, but there is nothing mentioned about the smell in any research or case study. 

What factors can affect urine smell while taking sertraline?

Several factors can affect the smell of your urine while taking sertraline. These include:

Underlying urinary problems

Diseases affecting the urinary system, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder problems, can contribute to changes in urine smell. However, such conditions are generally associated with other symptoms as well. 

So, it’s crucial to monitor for symptoms like pain or discomfort during urination. This helps your doctor diagnose any other condition that could be affecting your urine odour, which is important to determine the best treatment strategies for you.


Insufficient water intake leading to dehydration can concentrate urine, resulting in a stronger urine smell. It can also affect the colour of your urine. Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for your various physiological functions, including your brain health. So, make sure you drink enough water. 

Use of other medications

Concurrent use of medications alongside sertraline can affect urine smell. Some drugs can alter the composition of urine and make it smell different or unusual. It’s best to inform healthcare providers about all medications that you are currently taking.

Certain foods

The consumption of specific foods, such as garlic, fish, or coffee in excess, can affect your urine odour. While this is generally harmless and temporary, it’s essential to be aware that dietary choices can influence how urine smells and it might be completely unrelated to your antidepressant.

What to do if your urine smells weird while taking sertraline?

If your urine smells weird or different while taking sertraline, please reach out to your healthcare provider. Your doctor will rule out other potential causes and will determine the root cause of this. Sometimes, dehydration can alter the smell of urine which has an easy fix – drink more water. 

However, sometimes there could be an underlying health condition affecting your urine odour, such as UTIs, which is very important to diagnose. This is because such infections need proper antibiotics to get better and untreated UTIs can become complicated. 

There could also be other conditions, like unmanaged diabetes, that can affect how your urine smells. So, it is important to discuss this with your doctor and other symptoms that you might be experiencing. 

Sertraline does not affect the smell of urine per se, but it can aggravate pre-existing urinary conditions in some cases. If sertraline is responsible for affecting your urinary functions in any way, your doctor will consider potential alternatives and will adjust your treatment plan accordingly. 

Just make sure you do not make any changes to your prescription on your own.

As a pharmacist, I have come across cases of abrupt antidepressant withdrawal even due to minor side effects. This is never a wise thing to do and can affect some people seriously, especially those who are long-term users of antidepressants. 

So, it is important to discuss anything that’s bothering you with your doctor before starting to make decisions on your own. 


  1. National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from:
  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Movig KL, Leufkens HG, Belitser SV, Lenderink AW, Egberts AC. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced urinary incontinence. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2002 Jun;11(4):271-9. doi: 10.1002/pds.705. PMID: 12138594. 
  1. Lowenstein L, Mueller ER, Sharma S, FitzGerald MP. Urinary hesitancy and retention during treatment with sertraline. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2007 Jul;18(7):827-9. doi: 10.1007/s00192-006-0241-4. Epub 2006 Nov 7. PMID: 17089079. 

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