When you become pregnant, food takes on an entirely new meaning. You might find all food completely repulsive in a moment of nausea, then feel voraciously hungry for foods you used to hate in a moment of cravings. The changes your body is going through causes changes in your digestion and even in your taste buds. One common side effect of pregnancy in the first trimester is a condition known as dysgeusia. Dysgeusia, more casually referred to as “metal mouth”, causes a change in your sense of taste that often leaves you with the sensation of a metallic taste.

Dysgeusia, like many of the side effects of your pregnancy, is caused by changes in your hormones. In particular, the metallic taste is caused by the increase in estrogen. Dysgeusia is harmless, unless of course you stop eating because of it. Even though it isn’t harmful on its own, it is certainly a gross sensation. Even when you’re not eating, you might be overcome by the sensation that you’re sucking on metal. It also might ruin the taste of your favorite foods.

If you’re experiencing dysgeusia and would like to make it go away, a recent study showed that cooling your mouth can make it go away. Next time the sensation comes on, try drinking ice-cold water or even just sucking on some ice cubes. The low temperature will override the metallic taste, and you’ll even get hydration while you’re at it. If the cold sensation doesn’t help, you could try eating something with citrus or vinegar, or rinsing your mouth with a salt solution. Since the taste is caused by hormones and not by actual taste sensations, overriding it with powerful flavors tends to work. Additionally, they cause the production of saliva in your mouth, which will help wash the taste away.

If you notice that you’re enjoying your foods less and therefore eating less as a result of your dysgeusia, speak with your health care provider immediately. Not getting the proper nutrition during your pregnancy could have seriously negative side effects on you and your baby. Your doctor might be able to provide a more effective solution, such as an adjustment to your vitamin regimen. Dysgeusia is harmless as long as you continue to eat normally, and it should go away as soon as you deliver your baby and your hormones go back to their normal state of production.

Source: Rie Fujiyama et al: Ice Cube Stimulation Helps to Improve Dysgeusia. Odontology Volume 98 Issue 1 pp. 82-84 2010