Although it is an unpleasant experience, a metallic taste in your mouth during pregnancy is normal. Medically, it’s referred to as dysgeusia (dis-gU-ZEE-a) and many experts believe it is caused by the body’s increased production of estrogen, which is believed to control our sense of taste.
During pregnancy, estrogen and other hormones fluctuate, causing strange feelings and a funny taste in your mouth. This can sometimes combine with your heightened sense of smell cause you to feel nauseous, making the metallic taste all the more annoying. This symptom is very common during the early stages of pregnancy, and it tends to get better during the second trimester when your hormones begin to relax a bit.
What Causes a Metallic Taste in the Mouth During Pregnancy?
Many medical professionals believe estrogen has something to do with our sense of taste. When a woman becomes pregnant, estrogen levels begin to fluctuate, increasing and then rapidly decreasing. This causes the body to react in a way that causes irritation and strange or uncomfortable side effects such as morning sickness, fatigue, food cravings, and mood swings, to name a few. Another factor that may contribute to the taste could be the intimate relationship between our sense of taste and sense of smell.
Taste buds located on our tongue are nests of cells that are sensitive to flavors. The four primary tastes are described as salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. In actuality, what we perceive as taste is actually smell. We don’t taste anything until our saliva dissolves the food we are eating. There must be a balance between the four tastes and the smell of a substance. If taste and smell do not match up — as can happen when your hormones cause your sense of smell to act funny — the result is typically an unpleasant taste or no taste at all. For example, when you are ill, food may not have any taste whatsoever.
Getting Rid of the Metallic Taste
The only known way to get rid of the metallic taste is to neutralize it. The most important thing to do is speak with your healthcare provider about the symptoms you are experiencing during your pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to rule out any disorders or illnesses that may be causing the change in taste. If a vitamin you are taking is causing the problem, you may need to switch to a different one. You may also need to spend time experimenting with different solutions to your problem.
Some women find the following foods and beverages beneficial:
- Ginger-flavored foods and drinks
- Foods containing vinegar, such as pickles
- Acidic foods and drinks, such as orange juice, lemonade, oranges, or lemons
- Spicy foods
- Salt water solution
- Baking soda solution
Ginger is a known anti-nauseate that can help control your sense of taste and smell. Acidic foods not only eliminate the metallic taste, but they also increase your saliva production, which can neutralize bad tastes in your mouth. Rinsing your mouth with a salt water solution (¼ tsp salt for every cup of water) or baking soda solution (¼ tsp baking soda for every cup of water) can also neutralize the pH level in your mouth. Other women find relief after brushing their teeth, most importantly the tongue, or chewing a piece of sugar-free gum.
In almost all cases, the metallic taste gradually disappears during the second trimester, and is completely gone after childbirth.
Talking to Your Doctor
Here are some questions to ask your doctor about a metallic taste in your mouth during pregnancy:
- Based on how far along I am, how long should I expect this to last?
- Which home remedies do you recommend to your patients?
- What can I do if I struggle to eat throughout the day?
- Are there any over-the-counter products that may help eliminate this taste?
- Why is this happening now, and why didn’t it happen with my last pregnancy?
- What do you think is causing this metallic taste?
- What can we do if treatment fails? What other options are there?