During pregnancy, women may walk into their favorite restaurant and run immediately back out the door thanks to a heightened sense of smell. Scents and odors that once brought happiness may smell horrible during pregnancy. An increase in the sense of smell is called "hyperosmia" (loss of smell is "hyposmia"). The change, like so many other changes during pregnancy, is caused by pregnancy hormones.
Causes of a heightened sense of smell
Estrogen is the hormone to blame for a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy. According to research studies, women who experience more intense reactions to scents are often the same ones who experience worse cases of morning sickness. In one study, women who had no sense of smell at birth did not have morning sickness while pregnant.
Important facts about increased sense of smell
While some scents may cause instant nauseating reactions, others may only cause a mild dislike. Pregnant women have also reported liking the scents of some things they disliked before becoming pregnant. There is no way to avoid the increased sense of smell during pregnancy, but fighting off the effects may be a challenge.
Treatment for increased sense of smell
Women who experience extreme reactions to scents may need to avoid these scents whenever possible. Luckily, few people get angry with a pregnant woman, so this is the time to ask coworkers, relatives, and partners to leave colognes and strongly scented lotions behind (at least for a while). Washing clothes more often to remove unwanted odors and opening windows while cooking may also help prevent nausea associated with an increased sense of smell.