Home Pregnancy Smell Sensitivity During Pregnancy (Hyperosmia)- Causes And Remedies

Smell Sensitivity During Pregnancy (Hyperosmia)- Causes And Remedies

by Ambili S Kartha

Updated on :  
expertsExpert Validated By : Dr. Ankita Patel Tayal
Smell Sensitivity During Pregnancy (Hyperosmia)- Causes And Remedies

The heightened sense of smell is counted as one of the early signs of pregnancy. More often, expecting women experience this right from the first trimester of pregnancy. Smell sensitivity during pregnancy can have varied effects on different pregnant women.

More often, smell sensitivity during pregnancy can trigger nausea and you could throw up. One study even found that loss of smell during pregnancy keeps morning sickness at bay.

Even though sounds like an advantage, this will adversely affect your appetite.

Why, because the sense of smell is directly connected to the ability to taste. Therefore, when you can’t smell or taste your food, your appetite is likely to decline.

And pregnancy is a time when you need to focus on eating right – so a decline in appetite is not really desirable. Let’s know more about hyperosmia during pregnancy.

What Is Hyperosmia During Pregnancy?

Hyperosmia refers to the state in which a person experiences an increase in olfactory sensitivity. Many women say about experiencing a heightened sense of smell during their pregnancy.

From a faint aroma, that many normal people do not even sense, to an intense smell like that of chemicals can trigger hyperosmia during pregnancy.

According to our panel gynaecologist Dr Ankita Patel Tayal, people who experience hyperosmia during pregnancy are more prone to nausea and vomiting. The good news is that, pregnancy-induced hyperosmia usually disappears after delivery and as the hormone levels return to normal.

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Related Reading: 12 Simple Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Nausea

The odors that trigger hyperosmia during pregnancy are not the same for all expecting mothers. And neither is the effect. The odor and it’s level that trigger smell sensitivity during pregnancy varies from person to person.

However, some common smells that trigger discomfort in expecting women with hyperosmia are cooking smells, the smell of perfumes, body odors chemical smells like that of petroleum, or cleaning products like bleach.

The smell of scented candles, incense sticks also trigger discomforts in many expecting mothers.

What Causes A Heightened Sense Of Smell During Pregnancy?

Anything from food, drinks, toiletries, or even the smell of other people becomes less or more pleasing during pregnancy. This heightened smell sensitivity is one of the early indications of pregnancy.

There are no scientific studies or medical theory that points out the exact reason for this phenomenon during pregnancy.

However, some possibilities bring about this heightened smell during pregnancy which disappears shortly after delivery.

Like all other pregnancy issues, the heightened smell is also connected to the hormonal changes associated with morning sickness. 

Surging pregnancy hormones and increased levels of hCG could be the reason for smell sensitivity during the first trimester of the pregnancy.

However, after the first trimester, the hCG level stops progressing and tends to fall.

Even then expecting women have a heightened sense of smell. In this perspective comes another theory.

Related Reading: Ginger During Pregnancy- Is It Safe

The blood volume increases as the pregnancy progresses. By the end of the pregnancy, there will be a marked increase of 50% of blood volume. Blood flow also increases simultaneously.

Therefore, whatever thing that the blood carries to the brain reaches the brain quickly and also in more than normal quantities. Some experts believe this is the reason women tend to have a heightened sensitivity to smell after the first trimester.

Some old wife tales state sensitivity to a particular odor points to the gender of the baby. But, there is no scientific backup sensitivity to smell during pregnancy pointing to boy or girl. So sensitivity to smell and baby gender is not related.

Can I Prevent Smell Sensitivity During Pregnancy?

Can I Prevent Smell Sensitivity During Pregnancy

Simple answer – no, you can’t. 

Smell sensitivity during pregnancy is not something that you can control Sensing the smell is an involuntary action. You have no control over it.

You can’t keep your nose from being super sensitive while your pregnancy hormones are surging.

Just take it as pregnancy magic or superpower.

Once you are pregnant everything that smells bad is not an issue that affects the pregnancy.

Also, this heightened sense of smell won’t remain forever. So rather than trying to prevent it, find out ways to deal with hyperosmia during pregnancy.

7 Ways To Deal With Hyperosmia During Pregnancy

Smell sensitivity is not something you can get rid of. Even though you can’t prevent or treat hyperosmia during pregnancy, there are some ways to deal with it.

1. Avoid scents that bother you

Stay away from smells that make you sick during pregnancy. As already mentioned, the triggering factor of hyperosmia varies with different women.  More often this discomfort due to heightened smell is restricted to some criterion.

If for some people it is the smell of cooking, for others it might be the body odors, or perfumes, or chemical smells. Find out the triggering factor and try to avoid it whenever possible.

Until you could move away from the smell that irritates you, try to chew a piece of peppermint gum. This tip is found helpful to steer clear of intense smell. This is one helpful tip to deal with smell sensitivity during pregnancy.

2. Cook and eat wisely

Cook and eat wisely

Always cook and eat the food that you can stand the sight and smell of. Mild smelling foods are good to eat and cook during this stage.

Always ask to switch on the exhauster whenever someone cooks for you.

Alternatively, leaving the windows open and ensure proper ventilation in the kitchen. This will help to expel the cooking smell.

3. Switch to natural products

Try to choose mild smelling natural products for cleaning and washing. Many mothers even find it hard to use the toothpaste they used before. Changing to a bland-tasting toothpaste will help.

Likewise, be careful while choosing toiletries like shampoo, conditioners, body lotions, creams, etc. the market is flooded with a wide range of toiletries. Choose one that smells good to you.   

These tips could help you fight smell sensitivity during pregnancy in your day to day life.

4. Wash clothes carefully

During pregnancy, it is important to wear washed and clean clothes. It not only keeps the body order at bay but also soothes the hyperosmia during pregnancy.

You can walk away from the smell that bothers you outside, but not from your clothes.

Related Reading: Household Work During Pregnancy – What Do And What To Avoid

Rely on lightly scented or unscented detergent to wash your clothes. Steer clear of strongly smelling detergent as much as possible.

Wash your clothes more often to get rid of stubborn smells (like body order)

5. Select mild smelling deodorants

You don’t have to discard the use of deodorant just because of your heightened sense of smell.

A good deodorant might help to get rid of the body order that follows you. However, rather than applying products with harsh chemicals and strong smells, stuck on to natural and mild ones.

6. Demand extra consideration

You cannot deal with smell sensitivity during pregnancy if others in the family.

Other family members should also stay away from things that contribute to your heightened sense of smell.

If you are working, request your colleagues to be considerate of your smell sensitivity during pregnancy. They can maybe eat away from you if the food that triggers nausea I  you.

7.  Carry an emergency smell-saver

Carry an emergency smell-saver

You can always let the smell that soothes you to surround you. Carry your favorite smells to work, the market or anywhere else.

Some common smells make you feel better when smell sensitivity hits you during pregnancy. The majority of mothers feel the smell of mint, lemon, and ginger very smoothening.

Carry a small bottle of pregnancy-safe essential oil in your bag whenever you go out.

Put a few drops in a handkerchief and smell it when you come across an offensive smell.

The smell that soothes your senses confuses the brain for some time and you can pass the unpleasant smell within that time.

Find a smell that makes you feel better and carry it with you and make use of it wisely.


Even though temporary, heightened small during pregnancy is not a small issue. Always try to stay away from smells that make you sick during pregnancy.

The content on parenting.miniklub.in is only for informational purposes and is NOT to be used as medical advice. Your DOCTOR is always the best person to guide you through your medical issues.

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