Metallic Taste In Mouth
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|Do Taste Buds Change During Pregnancy?
Yes. Taste buds do change and this is in fact one of the common early signs of pregnancy. Many pregnant women report a metallic taste in their mouth, and an altered sensitivity to certain tastes and smells. This adjustment can happen early in the first trimester of pregnancy, in fact as soon as 2 weeks after conception.
The strong metallic taste which pregnant women complain about (which can occur even when not eating) is medically known as Dysgeusia. The best way to fight metal is with acid. If you do suffer from metal-mouth, start drinking lemonade and citrus fruit juices and nibble on sour boiled sweets and pickled foods. The acid in these foods and drinks are strong enough to break through the metallic taste, and increase saliva production, which will help wash away the taste. Other tips include brushing your tongue as well as your teeth, or rinse with your mouth with salted water (a teaspoon of salt in 230ml of water). This helps to neutralize pH levels in the mouth. You should also ask your doctor about changing your prenatal multivitamin as some brands appear to cause metal mouth more than others. Fortunately, however, metallic taste problems usually disappear by the second trimester of pregnancy.
Increased Hormone Levels
Altered taste during pregnancy is largely attributed to increased hormone levels – primarily estrogen fluctuations. Scientists have carried out numerous tests which seem to indicate that estrogen directly affects taste and smell receptors. Even women who are not pregnant, but have increased levels of estrogen report altered smell and taste senses. A 2002 study by the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia showed that women of child bearing age showed greater sensitivity to smell than men. However, when estrogen levels were ‘normal’, such as with pre-pubescent girls before menarche and post menopausal women, those questioned demonstrated similar levels of smell sensitivity to men. Additionally, women often report increased sensory experiences during their menstrual cycle and ovulation – another time when estrogen levels fluctuate.
To Protect Fetus From Toxins
Scientists believe a pregnant woman's heightened sense of taste and smell may benefit her unborn baby. The fetus is at its most vulnerable stage of development in the first and second trimester. Morning sickness and even its more severe form hyperemesis gravidarum is often prompted by sensitivity to odors and tastes and may cause a woman to reject potentially harmful foods. Some foods which a pregnant woman may eat on a regular basis could contain toxins. Although those toxins exist at a level completely unharmful to an adult, they may have a catastrophic effect on an embryo/fetus. Scientists substantiate this argument with evidence showing that pregnant women develop extra sensitiveness to the taste of alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine drinks and bitter vegetables. Diet drinks which contain artificial sweeteners can also leave a nasty after taste. Finally, other studies show that women who experience morning sickness are less likely to suffer a miscarriage - again suggesting that altered senses are protecting the unborn baby.
In 2004, the British Supermarket chain Tesco conducted a wine tasting study on a group of their pregnant customers. Don't worry - they didn't ask the women to drink the alcohol, just to swirl it around in their mouth and taste it before spitting it out. The company wanted to take advantage of the women's extra sensory perceptions while pregnant in order to choose the best wines for their customers. The decision to carry out the survey was taken by their Chief Wine Taster who reported her experience in tasting wine became more pronounced when pregnant. Another study showed that two thirds of women experienced taste changes during pregnancy, including decreased salt and increased bitter sensitivity. See also pregnancy cravings.
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For more about some of the 'side-effects' of pregnancy, see the following:
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