If you’ve never heard of dysgeusia, you’re not alone. I hadn’t either until I experienced it during my pregnancy. (And to be honest, I’m still not sure how to pronounce it lol.) I don’t plan on writing a lot about pregnancy here on the blog, but I have been wanting to share my experience with this particular symptom because I had such a hard time finding any information about it when I was pregnant.
So what is dysgeusia? It’s a lingering bad taste in the mouth–sometimes metallic, sometimes bitter. From the research I’ve done, no one seems to be able to say exactly what causes it in pregnancy, although it’s probably related to hormonal changes.
Regardless of the cause, it’s much more unpleasant than it probably sounds. I’m sure the first thought that goes through most people’s minds is “why not just brush your teeth to get rid of the taste?” But here’s the thing–dysgeusia makes even toothpaste and breath mints and all the other things we generally use to get rid of a bad taste in our mouths taste bad too.
And it’s constant. I would wake up in the middle of the night, hours after having eaten or brushed my teeth, and the bitter, nauseating taste in my mouth was so bad it would actually keep me awake. Imagine throwing up and being unable to rinse your mouth out and just having to taste vomit for hours and hours — that’s what dysgeusia was like for me. (At least at first–read on for the tips that helped me cope!)
Literally not a single one of the many books about pregnancy that I read even mentioned dysgeusia. Which meant that it was really hard to find any information about how to cope with it. So even though it is certainly not the most serious or difficult pregnancy symptom out there, I personally found it challenging simply because it took so much research and then trial and error to find anything that helped.
So I figured I’d write this post to maybe spare another pregnant mama out there all that work and help her find some helpful strategies a bit most easily. Because while I never found anything that made the dysgeusia go away completely, but I did find some things that really helped me cope. Here they are:
How To Cope With Dysgeusia During Pregnancy
1. Avoid problem foods and drinks.
I planned on eating lots of healthy foods while pregnant but still indulging in all the fun pregnancy cravings I’d heard about. But I soon realized that the easiest way to control the bad taste in my mouth was to be careful about what I ate and drank.
For me, carbs, fruit, and sauces or strong seasonings were the biggest problems. They tasted okay as I ate them but almost immediately after I finished the last bite, the dysgeusia would return with a vengeance. Once I realized that, I adjusted my diet accordingly. I didn’t avoid fruit or carbs 100% but I ate a lot less of them than usual. Instead I focused on eating more proteins and vegetables, which incidentally I was craving anyway.
So if you’re suffering from dysgeusia, you might want to take note of which foods cause you the most problems and which cause the least and adjust what you eat accordingly. Your problem foods may be completely different from mine, so don’t automatically assume you need to cut back on carbs like I did. I would recommend keeping a food diary for a few days to help you narrow down which foods, if any, are triggering the dysgeusia and which seem to be okay.
Note: You should definitely talk to your doctor, midwife, or healthcare provider about this to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need for yourself and baby. I’m not a healthcare professional and I’m only sharing my personal experience. All the changes I made were with my doctor’s approval. Also, I made sure to take prenatal vitamins throughout my pregnancy.
2. Gargle or rinse your mouth with salt water.
This really helps to neutralize the bad taste, at least temporarily. I bought a super-small water bottle and would refill it with salt water so I could carry it in my purse to use when needed. The ratio that worked for me was about 1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of water. You can also use baking soda instead of the salt if you prefer.
3. Try a natural toothpaste.
When I learned that a baking soda rinse could be helpful, I remembered that I had purchased a natural tooth powder that had baking soda as its base and dug it out to give it a try. Happily, I found that it helped to neutralize the sour taste in my mouth rather than adding to it like regular toothpaste. The one I tried was by Primal Pit Paste and unfortunately I don’t see the exact product on their site anymore. Judging from the ingredients though, this Mint Tough Teeth Tooth Powder seem to be very similar and would be worth trying.
4. Remember that it’s only temporary.
I can remember worrying and wondering if the dysgeusia was ever going to go away. What if nothing ever tasted right ever again? What if I had to give up carbs and fruit and chocolate forever?
Let me assure you: the dysgeusia was gone as soon as I gave birth. The very first meal I ate in the hospital after having my baby tasted absolutely 100% normal. So just remember that as unpleasant as dysgeusia and all your other pregnancy symptoms may be in the moment, they’re temporary and also totally worth it once you hold that beautiful newborn in your arms.
I hope these tips help you if you’re experiencing dysgeusia during your pregnancy! I’d also love to hear from you: Have any of you had dysgeusia, and if so, how did you cope? Did any of these strategies work for you? Did you have any other weird pregnancy symptoms or ones that were especially challenging to deal with?