Pregnancy affects almost every part of your body, including your mouth and tastebuds. Dysgeusia refers to an altered or impaired sense of taste and is a common symptom among pregnant women, particularly in the first trimester. The effects can range from a subtle sour taste to a complete change in appetite.

Changes in taste

When you’re pregnant, estrogen and progesterone levels increase to nurture your growing child. These hormonal changes are believed to heighten your response to tastes and smells, which is why you may react more strongly to certain triggers.

It is not uncommon for either your appetite or food preferences to change drastically during pregnancy. You may experience a sudden aversion to flavours you previously enjoyed, such as caffeine or chicken. And while a Friday night may have previously seen you devouring your cheesy onion-and-garlic-topped pizza, the taste or aroma of such a dish might just leave you running for the bathroom.

What causes pregnancy cravings?

Pregnancy cravings are usually the result of hormones, a heightened sense of taste and smell, or nutritional deficiencies. Though cravings typically arise in the first trimester and peak in the second, they can happen anytime during your pregnancy.

Other than a few raised eyebrows, there’s generally no harm in satisfying your need to gobble up that jar of pickles or gorge on some luscious dark chocolate. Your body’s working hard, it deserves a little reward – in moderation, of course.

What can I do about the metallic taste?

It can be especially unappetizing to wake up with a sour, coppery or metallic taste in your mouth. Highly acidic foods and citric fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits, can help to alleviate this symptom. However, be sure to drink plenty of water after consuming acidic foods so as not to compromise your teeth or oral health.

Some prenatal vitamins contain a coating that could also contribute to the metallic taste. If you’re currently taking prenatal vitamins, it may be worth consulting your doctor about the potential side effects and whether another option may be more suitable. Brushing your tongue when you brush your teeth can also help to rid your mouth of that coppery taste.

Will my tastebuds go back to normal after birth?

In most cases, odd cravings and food aversions disappear after giving birth. However, it is possible for them to remain indefinitely. For instance, some women who develop a distaste for red meat continue to avoid it, while others with an aversion to coffee can’t wait to enjoy a cup after delivery.