Why Do You Get a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth During Pregnancy?

Pregnant woman brushing her teeth

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Soon after you get that positive pregnancy test, you may not be surprised by impending nausea and exhaustion, but a metallic taste in your mouth is one pregnancy symptom you might not expect. Changes in your sense of taste, called dysgeusia, are very common in pregnancy with 93% of women experiencing some sort of taste change.

Along with a metallic taste, you also may experience other taste changes. According to Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, who is board-certified in both obstetrics/gynecology as well as maternal-fetal medicine and serves as director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, pregnant patients often complain that their mouth tastes foul, rancid, salty, or burnt, she says.

This metallic taste in your mouth will usually pass after the first trimester, but there are a few things you can do to help you get through it. Here's what you need to know.

Metallic Taste in Mouth During Pregnancy

For the most part, the metallic taste in your mouth (dysgeusia) is a harmless side effect of all the changes your body goes through when you are expecting. If you do experience dysgeusia, you can blame it on your hormones. Along with rising estrogen, increasing levels of the hormones progesterone, prolactin, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may also play a role, says Dr. Gaither.

"A rapid increase in estrogen at the beginning of pregnancy is thought to be the [primary] cause," explains Jill Purdie, MD, OB/GYN of North Women's Specialists in Atlanta, GA.

A changing sense of smell also may be behind pregnancy's unpleasant taste changes and food aversions. The theory is that Mother Nature equips expecting parents with a super-charged nose so they can avoid any potential toxins that might harm them or their developing fetus. Even conditions unrelated to pregnancy also be behind a metal taste in your mouth.

"Individuals can have taste changes if they have other medical conditions like diabetes or dry mouth as well as taking certain medications, having gingivitis, or having certain dental appliances or fillings," notes Dr. Gaither.

Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG

[What's more], taste buds have receptors for hormones that rise in pregnancy, causing taste changes, food aversions, or even morning sickness.

— Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG

Initially, some scientists have suggested that low levels of zinc during pregnancy might be related to the taste of metal, but researchers no longer believe this to be the case. Zinc deficiency generally occurs later in pregnancy, while dysgeusia mostly occurs in the first trimester when zinc levels are normal.

What Is Dysgeusia Like?

Every pregnant person experiences dysgeusia differently. It also might differ from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same person.

For instance, Ian Sells, a father of two, says that his wife experienced a metallic taste during her second pregnancy but not her first. Meanwhile, Maria Pia Cinelli says that she never tasted metal while pregnant, but she did find that her formerly favorite foods tasted repulsive.

And, Angelina Meilani, a mother of twins, only had a metallic taste when she ate something. Sells's wife, on the other hand, experienced it all the time.

Even certain foods can trigger a metallic taste. In fact, one study found that 65% of women said that their dysgeusia was related to how they perceived sour-tasting foods.

How Long Does a Metallic Taste Last ?

The taste of metal usually resolves at the end of the first trimester when hormone levels stabilize, says Dr. Purdie. Other times, it may continue throughout pregnancy. In one study, pregnant mothers reported that their dysgeusia was more extreme during the first trimester.

Meilani says that her dysgeusia was most noticeable around 9 to 12 weeks gestation and that it tapered off at the beginning of the second trimester. She also notes that her dysgeusia seemed to start when her morning sickness was at its worst and ended around the same time.

Meanwhile, Sells remembers that his wife experienced a metallic taste during the first trimester only. And, Cinelli indicates that her aversions lasted throughout her entire pregnancy, along with persistent nausea.

When Should You Be Concerned?

Dysgeusia is extremely common in pregnancy with almost all expecting parents reporting at least some change in taste. Plus, according to Dr. Purdie, it is usually not a cause for concern.

Jill Purdie, MD

However, if the metallic taste continues outside of pregnancy and is accompanied by other new or bothersome symptoms, such as dry mouth or pain, you should consult your physician.

— Jill Purdie, MD

To be on the safe side, tell your doctor if you experience a metallic taste while you are pregnant, says Dr. Gaither. This way, your physician can determine if it's related to pregnancy or another medical condition.

Minimizing the Metallic Taste

Although dysgeusia is harmless in most cases, it can be bothersome. To get rid of the taste of metal or at least lessen it, Dr. Purdie suggests drinking citrus juices or lemonade, changing your prenatal vitamin, chewing gum, or sucking on mints.

She also advises those suffering from bothersome dysgeusia to use a toothpaste that contains baking soda and to scrape their tongue after brushing their teeth. Sells remembers that having something to eat helped relieve his wife's dysgeusia, especially ice chips, sugar-free mints, or crackers. Meilani, on the other hand, says that she experienced the metal taste when she did eat something, and it didn't seem to matter what it was.

You may have to experiment with different things to see what works for you. Keeping notes of when you experience dysgeusia including what you are doing or eating, can also help you determine a pattern.

Keep in mind that dysgeusia is not the only pregnancy symptom that affects your senses. The cocktail of hormones that floods your system to help you sustain and grow a new human life can leave you tasting, smelling, and even hearing differently.

For instance, increased fluid retention may impair the sense of hearing. And cravings, the strong desire to eat certain foods, are thought to be propelled by increased nutritional needs.

Regardless of the changes you experience during pregnancy, rest assured that they are mostly temporary and often resolve midway through your pregnancy, or at least by its end.

A Word From Verywell

If you are pregnant and have a metallic taste in your mouth, you may be surprised the first time you notice it. But rest assured that even though dysgeusia can be bothersome and annoying, it is usually nothing to worry about.

Still, it's important to let your doctor know what you're experiencing. This way, they can assure you that it is related to the increased hormones surging through your body and not the result of a more serious condition.

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.