Q. I am 7 weeks pregnant and my husband has recently noticed that I have a strong vaginal odor. I don't notice the smell at all. He says it is so strong that it is making him sick. I am wondering if the odor could be caused by my prenatal vitamins. I have no other symptoms of infection; no burning, itching, etc. Any ideas?
A. The "horror-mones" (hormones) of pregnancy do bring about all kinds of changes in a pregnant woman's body, including changing body odors. In a chapter of my book, "Starting to Show, Starting to Stink," I surprised myself with my own odor...
While getting undressed last night, I wondered "Just what is that smell? The dog? Did she roll in something?"
As I picked up my clothes off the bed, I smelled it again. I whiffed my shirt. Ack! That smell is me!!
My bodily odors were decidedly different than they were before pregnancy. I've been noticing a gradual change, but now I think I smell like a whole new (and not so fresh) me. My B.O. smells more musky than it used to. Not only do I smell different, but I also smell stronger.
It's not just the body odors that change; it's the vaginal odors, too. Definitely different. Definitely stronger. The good news is that your body will probably return to its former smell (or lack thereof) after pregnancy. In the meantime, the only thing you can do is to try bathing more. Do avoid douching or vaginal deodorants as they can be irritating and/or risky during pregnancy.
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Q. My husband's body odor is really strong these days. Is it common for men's body chemistry to change during a wife's pregnancy?
A. I wish! Unfortunately, most husbands are unable to share in the smorgasbord of physical symptoms you will experience during pregnancy. (Unless, of course, they have an extreme case of empathy!)
It seems your problem, my dear, is your own sense of smell. During pregnancy it is very common for the olfactory sensor to kick into overdrive. You may even find yourself smelling the McDonald's fryer from three miles away!
You might tactfully ask you husband to shower more often and do try to keep your distance from close talkers with halitosis.
Q. I've been experiencing an odor coming from between my breasts and even my husband notices the smell. I've resorted to putting deodorant between my boobs. I take two showers a day, but immediately after I bathe the odor is there again. What do you think is causing this? How can I make it go away? It's so embarrassing!
-Anonymous, New Jersey
A. During pregnancy, most women not only have different body odor, but they also smell stronger. It's the horror-mones of pregnancy that change your body's chemistry and scent. You may also notice that you perspire from places you never have before – like between your breasts. I remember having sweaty shins during my first pregnancy. It was really embarrassing when I had a pedicure and the sweat kept rolling down onto my feet.
Back to the issue of odors and how to control them: The good news is that once the baby is born, you will probably get your old scent back. The bad news is that you may have to tolerate your different odor until your pregnancy is over.
To lessen the scent, you might try a slightly blander diet with minimal garlic or spicy foods that can be a catalyst for stinky sweat. You also might try using a corn-starch based powder between your boobs. Powder formulated for foot odor may work best as it absorbs moisture and deodorizes.
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Q. I am 10 weeks pregnant and have an odor with my vaginal discharge. The discharge is clear, and the odor seems to get worse after my husband and I have sex.
A. As long as the discharge is clear and/or whitish in color, I wouldn't worry. The horror-mones of pregnancy can drastically change your bodily odors, including the smell of your vaginal discharge. And, having intercourse will increase the amount of discharge, therefore increasing the odor.
I remember thinking during my first pregnancy that my discharge smelled almost medicinal. During my second, the odor was more like a sweaty, cheesy stink. The only thing that seemed to help lessen the odor was bathing…a lot.
Q. My wife says she can't stand the smell of me, although I shower three times a day and wear deodorants. She won't even sleep in the same bedroom. Any suggestions?
A. The horror-mones of pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman's olfactory sensors, turning the volume way up on smells. Some women have more of a "smelling" problem than others. My friend Hannah slept in a separate bedroom throughout her entire pregnancy. She said the smell of her husband's sleep/morning breath was so offensive that she would vomit upon whiffing it. You are not alone.
Try not to feel offended. Sometimes during pregnancy any smell in close contact can be repugnant. It's a good idea to bathe often to keep your scent to a minimum. Since just the showering isn't doing the trick, maybe you should investigate just what it is that is not agreeing with your wife's nose. Maybe it's your deodorant or cologne. Maybe it's the smell of a spicy or garlic-filled food that you've eaten. I remember having a real problem working in the same office as my boss the day after he ate garlic (which was quite often.) I had to light candles, open windows and ask him not to come within ten feet of me. That smell literally made me sick to my stomach.