Pregnancy hormones can do strange things to all parts of your body – even your taste buds. One of the more disconcerting symptoms that some women experience is a metallic taste in the mouth during pregnancy. When it begins – often in the first trimester – it can be surprising, uncomfortable, and annoying. Of course there’s nothing enjoyable about a metallic taste, but if it happens to you, take heart: You’re not alone, you can take small steps to mitigate the effect, and it won’t last forever.
Doctors have a range of different theories about what causes this change in taste, also known as dysgeusia. In general, this uncomfortable sensation is most likely due to a fluctuation in hormone levels, particularly estrogen, which can affect your sense of taste. You may be experiencing a heightened awareness of the bitter taste sensation, which causes you to detect trace amounts of ingredients in foods that you may never have noticed. It can also be due to an acute sense of smell, which can make you more aware of bitter tastes. Some doctors even believe that there is an evolutionary role built in to this sensation – that it may be your body’s way of getting you to put more of the right nutrients in your body.
If you’re experiencing this symptom, it’s a good idea to check with your health care provider so that he or she can rule out any specific illnesses. Your doctor may also decide to help you change you over to a different prenatal vitamin, or change the time of day that you take it. Even if you are sure that the prenatal vitamin is the cause of the metallic taste in your mouth, you should work with your doctor to find a vitamin that’s right for you. Don’t use it as an excuse not to take that all-important vitamin!
Beyond that, you may just need to experiment with what makes your mouth taste better. Some women find that eating sour or acidic foods helps wash away the metallic taste. If your stomach can handle it, spicy food often does a good job too.
If the problem is persistent throughout the day, you may try rinsing your mouth with a very weak salt solution or baking soda solution (1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of water) to neutralize the pH in your mouth. Some women find relief in brushing their teeth, using mouthwash, or even chewing sugar-free gum. The main point is to make sure that the metallic taste does not get in the way of your ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.
As uncomfortable as it may be, the good news is that this symptom often subsides after a few weeks. And even if it persists, remember that like all other pregnancy side effects, it will be gone by the time you have your baby – and by that time, you’ll have plenty of other things to think about. So hang in there, do the best you can to keep yourself comfortable, and remember that this too will pass.