Pregnancy Body Odor: Causes and Solutions


Even in the very early days of pregnancy — sometimes before you even know you’re expecting — your body is busy changing to help nourish your developing baby. Many of these changes can bring on side effects that might surprise you.

Lesser-known side effects include changes in your sense of taste and even your body odor. Yes, you’re not imaging it — during pregnancy, your body odor might differ from your norm. It doesn’t help that your sense of smell can be heightened during pregnancy!

Especially pungent body odor during pregnancy is often normal, and there are several reasons why it may happen.

There are lots of reasons you may smell more, well, interesting when you’re pregnant. But also, let’s clear the air (no pun intended) on something: Yes, body odor can change or worsen during pregnancy. But, your much-more-sensitive pregnancy nose is also picking up more smells — so don’t be too hard on yourself!

When you’re pregnant, your body’s blood supply increases by up to 50 percent. This is because more blood is needed to carry oxygen and nutrition for your growing baby and its cozy, warm home in your womb (uterus). But all this extra blood can make you feel even more warm-blooded!

During pregnancy you may sweat more as your body tries to keep you cool. This can make you ripe for more body odor, especially in areas where you have more sweat glands, like the armpits and groin.

And one 2016 study found that sex hormones step in during pregnancy, also to help keep you cool. Hormones called estrogens helps your body thermoregulate (or balance its temperature) by increasing sweating. (You might notice this hormonal effect during menstrual cycles too!)

Some pregnant people find that they often have night sweats and wake up to the smell of their own body odor. Night sweats during pregnancy may be due to roller-coaster hormones or changes in metabolism.

However, if your night sweats or odors have changed significantly, contact your doctor. They can make sure it’s normal and not a sign of something else.

Thyroid reasons

Less often, night sweats happen because of normal changes in thyroid function during pregnancy.

Thyroid hormones help regulate temperature, digestion, and other body functions. During pregnancy — and depending on which trimester you’re in — the thyroid gland might make more hormones than usual. Too much can raise your body temperature and make you sweat more than usual, especially during sleep.

Some pregnant people develop a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease. This condition causes hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland. You’ll need treatment if you have this condition. Along with sweating and body odor, look for other symptoms of Graves’ disease, like:

  • fast heartbeat
  • weight loss
  • frequent bowel movements
  • weak muscles
  • thinning skin
  • fine or brittle hair
  • high blood pressure
  • eye sensitivity to light
  • confusion
  • anxiety

You might notice that you have more body odor than usual early in your first trimester, or at other times during pregnancy. When you have body odor may depend on the cause.

Other causes of body odor like increased blood may be the culprit in the second and third trimesters. Weight gain and skin folds may cause odor later in the third trimester. Basically, body odor due to pregnancy can begin before you even know you’re pregnant and continue until well after your baby is born.

Changes in diet, weight, and hormones can affect body odor throughout pregnancy — and sometimes right from the start.

Pregnancy brings many obvious changes in your body like weight gain. Too much weight gain can cause more skin folds in places you didn’t have them before like your underarms, the sides of your breasts, stomach, and groin. Sweat can collect in skin folds along with a build-up of bacteria and other germs, like yeast.

The combination of warm, moist skin folds and bacteria brings about body odor and other unpleasant symptoms. You may have skin chafing, rash, or sores from the extra moisture and from rubbing against clothing.

Note that these moist skin folds also provide prime environments for yeast infections. If you suspect you may have a yeast infection, see your doctor to get it checked out.

Many of the causes of body odor during pregnancy are due to normal changes in your body as your baby grows and develops. You might not be able to stop the causes, but you can help maintain and treat the body odor. Solutions that might help include:

  • shower every day
  • use deodorants and antiperspirants
  • wear loose clothing
  • wear natural fabrics or moisture-wicking fabrics
  • use foot powders on your feet
  • eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet
  • stay hydrated and drink plenty of water

You may notice more body odor during pregnancy. This is a normal side effect of all the wonderful changes that are going in your body.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about excess sweating, body odor, or any other symptoms. In very rare cases, you may need treatment for a serious underlying cause.



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