Pregnancy and Perfume Aversion
Pregnant women may identify strongly with Merriam-Webster's definition of aversion: "a feeling of repugnance toward something with a desire to avoid or turn from it." This feeling could be used to describe so many things associated with pregnancy, including perfume and other aromas that before you were pregnant may have smelled perfectly lovely. This aversion is believed to be related to -- you guessed it -- hormones. And because hormones continue to be fairly mysterious, there's really not a lot known about why or how pregnant women develop aversions during pregnancy -- most often during the first trimester.
We do know that pregnant women often develop parosmia, a distortion of the sense of smell that alters the character of various scents. Typically, this alteration makes smells unpleasant and aversive, rather than making smells you already don't care for more pleasant. Unfortunately, these reports of increased perfume aversions are mostly anecdotal. There has been little scientific study of the relationship between perfume and the noses of pregnant women, despite the belief that odor quality in general has a lot to do with morning sickness and food aversions.
Despite the lack of conclusive science, the anecdotal evidence is consistent – and piling up. Perfume aversions during pregnancy seem to be very real. If an aversion to a scent you've previously enjoyed is something you experience, talk to the co-worker wearing the scent that suddenly makes your stomach turn. Choose a new fragrance for your husband or significant other or try musky or natural scents, which seem to cause fewer problems, to wear yourself. You might also steer clear of scented detergents, lotions and other personal care products to help keep your stomach where it belongs.
Now that you know you're not imagining your suddenly over-active nose, we'll look at the big question. Can wearing perfume while pregnant harm you or your fetus?