Body Odor During Pregnancy: "Do I Smell?"

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How do you explain this? Have you woken up often in the middle of the night, during your first trimester, to the smell of something odd emanating from your kitchen? Turns out, there was indeed a rotten tomato in some corner of the fridge! Or the day when you stepped into the car, only to rush out wanting to puke due to the smell of that car perfume you had so lovingly installed before pregnancy? Well, pregnancy can play with your senses. According to a study, nearly 76% of pregnant women experience a heightened sense of smell and taste compared to non-pregnant or post-pregnancy women (1). The percentage is a staggering 67% for pregnant women in their early first trimester!

So, while a heightened sense of smell makes you sensitive to outside odors, it also makes you sensitive to your own smell. This is how it works – with the increase in your basal metabolic rate, the blood supply to most parts of your body increases, including the sweat glands. With your sweat glands now working overtime, your body odor is bound to intensify.

Here are the specific areas that get affected the most –

The Armpits

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As already mentioned, with the sweat glands over-working during pregnancy, your body might sweat more than usual, especially in the armpits. This gives you an impression that you might be stinking a lot. While few women frequently change their outfits, others carry fragrant wipes to ward off that smell when in public. But, have a heart! The silver lining is that no one else can smell you. That’s right! You may sweat more, but it is not your body odor that has increased. It is just your increased sense of smell.

The Vaginal Area

The increased blood supply changes the pH balance of the vaginal area. This may result in some weird, but hitherto unknown, odor to emanate from your lady bits. This, by the way, is completely normal. Especially during the third trimester as there may be more amount of mucus secretion (2). However, if the odor is accompanied by itchiness, rashes, or burning, do visit your OB/GYN to check for possible bacterial or fungal infections.

The Mouth

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Food cravings are common during pregnancy. Therefore, the more-than-usual snacking results in a foul oral odor. Dehydration and hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the saliva level causing the mouth to go dry. This, in turn, promotes bacterial growth. Morning sickness during the first trimester and mouth breathing, later on, can also make matters worse.

Here are some simple tips to help you combat bad odor –

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Shower: If you have been sweating from head to toe, a shower is the need of the hour. Try to take a regular shower. It not only helps you get rid of the smell but will also help you relax. An additional tip – use a mildly fragrant body wash that will help you de-stress and sleep well.

Hair Epilation: Most of us are in the habit of removing hair from our intimate areas. So, it goes without saying that you’ll need to continue doing the same during the pregnancy too, albeit more frequently. Removing hair from your armpits and the lady bits ensure easy cleaning and prevent accumulation of bacteria.

Vaginal Hygiene: Maintain proper hygiene down under. Wear clean undies. Wash your private area with warm water. But do not use vaginal douches or feminine washes. These can further irritate the delicate pH balance.

Maintain Hydration: It is easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy. Ensure you drink enough amount of water, more than your pre-pregnancy requirement.

Choose The Right Clothing: Wear natural, light fabrics like cotton or linen. Change your outfits frequently. Avoid wearing the same clothes after a bath. Wash your clothes with mild detergents to avoid skin irritation.

We hope this new knowledge helps you tackle your odor problem. However, remember that your smell sensitivity and body odor will only last until your pregnancy. So you can now heave a sigh of relief that it’ll all come to an end soon.

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Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.