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Pregnancy + Taste buds


Canters on Fairfax. When your taste buds want delicious saltiness

I didn’t suffer from extreme nausea or vomiting during pregnancy, although a week or so of Diclegis got me through the hard part. I didn’t have extreme cravings or aversions. All those Yogurtland trips were purely an indulgence. Man were they good.

But my perception of the way food tasted did change. I’m not alone. Up to 93% of women report some change in their gustatory sense during pregnancy. This is the fancy word for taste. Comes from the latin word gustare, meaning “to taste”.

On a side note, for those of you who missed (skipped) or miss (long for) latin class in high school, here are some other latin sensory terms:

  • aural, from latin auris, meaning “ear”
  • olfactory, from latin olfactus, meaning “to smell”
  • tactile, from latin tactilis, meaning “that may be touched”

But back to our gustatory sense during pregnancy …

Numerous studies have looked at how taste changes in pregnant women. The more I researched the more I realized there is no straightforward answer. The studies give us inconsistent and contradictory results.

One study revealed an increased sensitivity to bitter tastes (coffee is often used as an example of a bitter taste – see my aversion to coffee during pregnancy post); another study reports a bitter insensitivity, but only in the first trimester. One study showed an unpleasant sensation with salt throughout pregnancy; another reported salt to be more pleasing, with a peak in the second trimester. The intensity and pleasantness of sour taste was inconsistent also. One common finding: no change in sweet taste. No one has bothered to study the fifth taste: umami, which happens to be my second favorite (after sweets, of course, if you couldn’t tell by my Yogurtland trips).

My final and hopefully reassuring conclusion: Whatever taste changes you experience during pregnancy are normal. Your taste will go back to normal … at some point.


Duffy et al. Taste changes across Pregnancy. Annals New York Academy of Sciences. Feb 2006. Vol 855: issue 1. 805-809
 Ochsenbein-Kolble et al. Changes in gustatory function during the course of pregnancy and postpartum. BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dec 2005. Vol. 112:1636–1640


Mar 29, 2016

Original post published: 

* Content reviewed annually for accuracy 

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