Body Odor During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Home Remedies

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Most pregnant women experience various side effects, such as itchy skin, increased sweating, fatigue, and body odor, among others. However, these vary from one woman to another as each pregnancy is unique. This post takes you through the condition, increased body odor during pregnancy, its causes, and treatment management. It is likely to cause discomfort, especially in the first trimester when coping with nausea and vomiting (morning sickness).

What Are The Causes Of Body Odor During Pregnancy?

Some possible causes of increased body odor in pregnancy are as follows:

1. Increased sweating

Due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, there is an increased blood supply to the skin. It may make a woman feel warmer and cause sweating. Increased sweat may lead to an increased body odor (1).

Pregnancy hormones can cause night sweats in women. Night sweats are episodes described as drenching sleepwear and bedsheets that cause disturbed sleep, which does not occur due to an overheated sleep environment (2).

2. Heightened sense of smell

The increased hormones in pregnancy may impact the heightened sense of smell, making a woman more conscious about her body odor (3).

3. Dietary changes

Some pregnant women may change their diet to ensure optimum nutrition, while others may indulge in binge eating due to pregnancy cravings. Meat, seafood, cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, or other foods, including onion, garlic, asparagus, and kale, may lead to foul body odor (4).

4. Vaginal odor

Pregnancy may lead to an unusual vaginal odor accompanying burning, itching, or brown/red discharge (5). If there are more than one symptom, the patient must see her doctor as soon as possible, as that may indicate a vaginal infection.

How Early To Expect Increased Body Odor?

The body odor may occur at any time during pregnancy, depending on the underlying cause. Increased olfactory response due to hormonal changes may cause odor in the first trimester. Increased blood supply may lead to an increased body odor in the second or the third trimester. Weight gain may lead to an increased odor in the third trimester as the sweat may settle down in the skin folds and emit odor.

Body odor due to hormones, diet, vaginal discharge can happen any time throughout the pregnancy.

How To Manage Body Odor During Pregnancy?

The following measures can help in limiting body odor in pregnancy. However, these measures may not resolve the problem from the grassroots level (6).

  • Bath twice a day using a mild soap
  • Trim your hair in the armpits and around the genitals to help prevent body odor and bacterial growth.
  • Stay hydrated as it helps in flushing out the toxins of the body.
  • Wear right clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton, wool, or silk as they allow the skin to breathe, reducing body temperature and sweating.
  • Avoid eating smelly foods such as onion, garlic, and seafood. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables to give a less offensive odor.
  • Maintain vaginal hygiene by washing with just water. It helps in maintaining pH levels and healthy bacteria in the vagina.
  • Use deodorants and antiperspirants to smell However, avoid using OTC agents during pregnancy to avoid any adverse effects on the fetus. You can also use baby wipes to wipe off the sweat from the armpits, under the breasts, and the bikini area.

When To See A Doctor?

While sweating during pregnancy is not uncommon, the following symptoms may indicate the need to see a doctor (6).

  • Sudden change in body odor
  • Excessive sweating
  • Finding the body odor intolerable
  • Skin being continuously damp from sweating
  • A rash or redness of the skin due to sweating
  • A fruity or bleach-like body odor

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can body odor predict a baby’s gender?

While there is no medical-based evidence to establish the belief, according to the old wives’ tales, you may experience more body odor with a boy than with a girl.

2. Is body odor an early sign of pregnancy?

Some women report experiencing a heightened sense of smell even before knowing they are pregnant (7). It may cause women to feel an increased body odor during the first trimester.

Body odor is not a cause of concern unless some unusual symptoms accompany it during pregnancy. If your body odor is making you self-conscious or is causing embarrassment, consult your Ob/Gyn or a dermatologist to get a pregnancy-safe treatment. Body odor due to pregnancy is temporary and subsides after delivery in most women.

References:

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Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos

(MD)
Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos is a board-licensed Ob/Gyn in Mexico, specializing in Adolescent Gynecology. She is also trained in Gynecological Endocrinology, granted by AMEGIN (Gynecological Endocrinology Mexican Association). Her decade-old experience includes scientific research in teen pregnancy and the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods in the adolescent age group.  Dr. Karla currently works in two private medical centers in... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. She also holds a certificate in lactation counselling from iNational Health... more

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