OMG, You Reek! (Or What Happens When Pregnancy Changes Your Senses)

Megan Van Schaick

pregnancy smellOne of the earliest symptoms of a pregnancy is a change in your sense of smell (it can also indicate ovulation, to a lesser degree). Some things just smell stronger, others go sweet or sour, and some things can seem just rank. A friend of mine went from loving lilies to fits of violent nausea when she smelled them after getting pregnant.

Hormones are to blame -- of course. Isn’t that how you got here in the first place? To be specific, all the extra estrogen you are producing is the cause -- there hasn’t been any strange mutation in your nasal cavity.

That’s all fine and good, right? You can deal with not having flowers or not eating tuna, and even giving up the gorgeously rosy scent of Stella McCartney’s signature fragrance. Your issues with smell will likely go away early in your second trimester (though some women say it never does, so be prepared), so all of this is temporary.

But what about when your partner is the one who stinks?

Of course he doesn’t really stink, it’s not like he stopped showering when you got pregnant. But his natural body smell, his pheromones and hormones, and all that -- suddenly instead of wanting to bury your face in his neck and drink him in, just the scent you catch as he walks by sends you retching.

So what the hell do you do? You can’t just stay away from him until your second trimester kicks in and things even out a bit ... can you?

Well, you could, but come on, how fun is that? You and he both want to participate in this pregnancy and this is a great time for bonding as a couple .... And you would miss out on awesome first trimester sex? Screw that.

Here are a few tips to try if you suddenly can't stand the smell of your partner:

  1. If what you smell is perhaps his soap, shampoo, body wash -- even shaving cream -- then he should consider switching products for a while. Go completely unscented and see if that helps.
  2. Because your diet can change the way you smell (Ever eat something garlicky and then go to the gym? Uck!), have your guy take a look at what he’s eating. Adding more fresh fruit and fruit juices -- and veggies too -- could have an effect on the way he smells. 
  3. Some women have found relief by dabbing a bit of Tiger Balm under their noses (it’s that coroner’s trick we all hear about) -- but if you enjoy the scent of a certain oil at this point in your pregnancy, you could use that instead. Just be sure if you are using an essential oil that you dilute it with sweet almond or jojoba oil.
  4. This sounds flip, but ... hold your nose. Do the whole “breathe through your mouth” thing when he’s around. 
  5. If it’s truly his body smell that is grossing you out, and it’s gone to an extreme where nothing works and you are getting sick, try sleeping in separate beds at night.

And a little P.S. -- Remember, as much as you're sensing a change in his smell ... your smell is changing, too! I have vivid memories of how my mother smelled when she was pregnant with my sister -- and the difference afterward. While your scent won’t change enough to make anyone puke, it’s changing all the same, so be gentle on your guy as you send him back to the shower for the third time.

The good news is, this should all disappear around the start of your second trimester -- just in time for the heartburn to set in!

Has your sense of smell changed during pregnancy?


Image via gotosira/Flickr

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