Can Menopause Cause a Metallic Taste in the Mouth? Let’s Find Out!

Last updated 01.20.2024 | by Dr. Karen Pike | 13 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Menopause is a significant time in a woman’s life, and it’s often accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and insomnia. Yet beyond these commonly recognized issues, there are several lesser-known symptoms that you might not be aware of, and one particularly curious one is a metallic taste in the mouth.

This strange taste can be a sign of menopause, but in some cases, it can also be a sign of an underlying condition. So, knowing how and why it happens, and learning how to recognize it is important.

When I first started researching menopause, I was completely unaware that this unusual symptom could be connected to hormonal changes in the body. However, after working with countless menopausal women over the last few years, I realized that a significant number of women report a metallic taste in their mouths as they journey through their menopausal years. Curious, I decided to uncover the truth about this phenomenon and why it happens

So, is there really a connection between menopause and this metallic taste, or is it simply a coincidence?

In this blog post, I’ll share what I’ve discovered during my research. we’ll unravel the truth. Plus, I’ll examine some other reasons why this strange phenomenon might occur and discuss when it might be time to see a doctor.

Understanding Menopause

The term ‘menopause’ refers to the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It marks the end of her fertile years and is usually said to have occurred when she hasn’t had a period for twelve consecutive months.

But most menopause symptoms first appear during the build-up to menopause, in a phase known as perimenopause. This is when your hormone levels begin to shift, and women are likely to experience hot flashesmood swings, and a whole host of other potential side effects. And one of those possible side effects is a metallic taste in the mouth.

Metallic Taste in the Mouth

During perimenopause and menopause journey, some women experience a phenomenon called dysgeusia- a distortion of the sense of taste[1]. Dysguesia can make certain foods, or even your own saliva, taste unusually bitter, sweet, sour, or, in this case, metallic. According to the women I’ve talked to about this phenomenon, this type of dysgeusia is often described as a taste of iron or tin.

Causes of Metallic Taste in the Mouth Due to Menopause

Causes of  metallic taste in the mouth due to menopause

After realizing that dysgeusia seemed to share a strong correlation with menopause, I decided to dig deeper into what could be causing the issue.

And it turns out that, hormonal changes that occur during menopause can potentially alter our sense of both taste and smell.

Estrogen

Many of us think of estrogen as a strictly reproductive hormone. However, estrogen plays a vital role in many other functions, and it can affect various tissues throughout the body, including taste buds.

Recent research has suggested that estrogen receptors are present in the taste buds[2]. And so, it’s reasonable to assume that estrogen levels can affect the way we perceive taste.

During menopause, estrogen drops to much lower levels than our bodies are accustomed to. In some cases, this decrease in estrogen can manifest as a seemingly unexplainable metallic taste in the mouth.

Dry Mouth

Another menopause-related reason for an unusual metallic taste is dry mouth. It is a surprisingly common side effect faced by women going through menopause, and some women also report that a lack of saliva can also change the way they perceive taste.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Menopausal dry mouth can also lead to burning mouth syndrome, an aptly named condition that causes an uncomfortable burning sensation on the muscles and tissues inside the mouth. It can feel painful, especially when trying to eat or drink, and it is often accompanied by a metallic or bitter taste.

It’s a relatively rare condition that is thought to affect less than 5% of the global population. Interestingly, it affects many more women than men, and research suggests that up to 90% of female patients with burning mouth syndrome are in the perimenopausal phase.

Other Causes of Metallic Taste in the Mouth

Other Causes of Metallic Taste in the Mouth

While some women do experience the metallic taste as a result of shifting hormones during menopause, it’s a relatively rare symptom. So, I advise women who are experiencing this strange taste to rule out other causes too.

A metallic taste in the mouth is not necessarily related to menopause.

Instead, it could be due to:

Changes to Oral Health

Gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontal disease can cause bleeding gums.

Blood has a strong metallic taste due to its high content of iron. So, if you’re suffering from gum disease, this could explain the metallic taste in your mouth.

Mouth Injury

Mouth injuries, such as oral ulcers or biting your tongue, can cause blood to flow and mix into the saliva. If this happens, the iron content in blood can leave a strangely metallic taste in your mouth.

Likewise, oral surgeries such as tooth and tonsil removal can also cause blood to reach your taste buds and create a metallic taste.

Certain Medications

Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can alter taste perception and create an unusual metallic taste in the mouth.

Some of the most common culprits include:

  • Osteoporosis medication
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments
  • Antibiotics such as metronidazole and zopiclone
  • Statins
  • Nicotine patches or gum
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antipsychotic medication
  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Diabetes medication such as metformin

Vitamins and Supplements

Certain dietary supplements, particularly those containing metals such as copper, zinc, iron, or chromium, can cause metallic taste in the mouth. Some prenatal vitamins can also have the same effect.

Metallic taste can also be a symptom of a vitamin deficiency, particularly a zinc deficiency. Zinc helps to regulate your sense of smell and taste, and when you don’t have enough of it, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth.

Pregnancy

We know that hormonal changes in menopause can affect your taste buds. So, it stands to reason that hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can also have the same effect.

Various types of dysgeusia can occur during pregnancy, and some expectant mothers do report a persistent and unexplained metallic taste in their mouths. This is particularly common in the earlier stages of pregnancy, during the first trimester.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as liver disease and hypothyroidism, can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth.

Tips for Managing Metallic Taste

Although a metallic taste in the mouth isn’t painful, it can still be unpleasant, and a lot of women I’ve spoken to who experience this symptom are keen to get rid of it. So, here are some ways you can combat dysgeusia and get to the root cause of the issue.

Stay Hydrated

Xerostomia is common during menopause, and for some women, it can lead to bad taste in their mouth. So, stay hydrated by making sure you are getting the recommended 2.7 liters (about 9 cups) of water per day[3].

Check for Injury

Sometimes, you might not notice that your mouth is bleeding as saliva will often dilute the blood and make it harder to detect. But if you notice a metallic taste, it’s a good idea to check for injuries that could explain the sensation.

See Your Dentist

If you suspect gum disease could be behind your change in taste, visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

If you suspect one of your medications is causing dysgeusia, check the list of side effects on the paper insert or speak to your doctor. They may be able to change your prescription.

Assess Your Vitamin Intake

Zinc deficiency is one possible cause of an unpleasant taste in the mouth. So, you may want to try supplementing with zinc to see if this helps.

That being said, zinc and other vitamin supplements can sometimes cause a metallic taste. Normally, the taste is fleeting and will disappear after drinking a glass of water. However, if the taste persists, check your dosage.

You may not even realize you are taking these supplements as they can be included in a multivitamin or even found in cold remedies, such as zinc lozenges or cough syrup containing zinc. So be sure to read all packaging carefully.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re noticing a persistent metallic taste and you can’t determine the cause, book an appointment with your doctor. They can rule out any underlying conditions and help you get to the bottom of why it might be happening.

How to keep your mouth healthy during menopause?

Irrespective of whether you are experiencing menopause or not, oral hygiene is always important to boost your overall health. When you do not take good care of your mouth, it becomes a gateway for bacteria, making you easily susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay, and other infections. Now, if you are in your mid-40s, you have to be extra careful when it comes to the cleanliness of your mouth.

I mentioned in the previous section how a drop in estrogen levels makes our taste buds sensitive. Similarly, the hormonal imbalances make your mouth, gum, and teeth more prone to bacterial infections. That is why keeping your mouth healthy during menopause is of utmost importance. Here are a few tips that I follow regarding oral hygiene. So, I would like to share them with you as well.

  • You should get into the habit of regularly brushing at least two times a day. This lessens the risk of cavities and other oral infections.
  • I have always used fluoride toothpaste, and I recommend the same for you. Fluoride helps in strengthening your enamel and protects your teeth from decay.
  • You should floss at least once a day. I would floss at night before bedtime. That’s the ideal time to do the same, as flossing before bed helps clear off all the food particles. This also lessens the risk of bacterial damage.
  • If you are struggling with bad breath, antibacterial mouthwash will help. However, here’s a word of caution. Do not use it more than twice a day. Overuse of the anti-bacterial mouthwash could irritate your mouth’s soft tissues, triggering dry mouth. This will happen even more if you use alcohol-based products.
  • Get your mouth and teeth checked regularly. The ADA (American Dental Association) advises that one should get their teeth checked at least twice a year. I try my best to adhere to this, and it helps to a great extent.
  • If metallic taste is becoming a constant issue, you could experiment and play with flavors to see what suits your taste buds the best. Add a dash of lemon to your curry, or spice it up a little. You may also try chewing mint or lemon candies. They are often helpful in reviving your taste buds and masking the metallic or bitter taste. When my taste buds would act weird, I preferred lemon or a dollop of maple syrup. I couldn’t choose to spice my food as that would make me feel hotter.
  • Smoking is never good, and in menopause, it is even worse, as it could aggravate most of your symptoms. If you are bothered with a metallic taste in your mouth, then smoking could affect it further because of the chemicals that you inhale when you smoke. It takes a significant toll on your taste buds, making them dull.
  • It might seem odd, but stress also contributes to the metallic taste. Let me explain further. When your anxiety levels are high, your body goes through a flight-or-fight response. It releases chemicals that affect your body, including your taste buds, leading to a metallic taste. Moreover, when stressed, your mouth dries out, resulting in lessened saliva flow.

This also contributes to the metallic taste. The bottom line is that you must find ways to lessen stress. Some ways include relaxation techniques, yoga, talk therapy, etc. When your stress is under control, it will help alleviate the metallic taste and improve your overall health.

FAQs

What are some other symptoms of dysgeusia?

An unusual metallic taste is just one of the ways that dysgeusia can manifest, but many people with this condition experience different symptoms. These include:
Food that once tasted pleasant now tastes unpleasant
Food loses its natural sweet or salty flavor
A metallic, bitter, sweet, sour, or salty taste despite no food or drink being consumed

Can changing my diet help to get rid of a metallic taste?

If you are experiencing metallic or bad taste regularly after eating, it’s a good idea to track your symptoms by keeping a food diary. Make a note of when the taste occurs and what you’ve eaten. Then, you can better identify any trigger foods and take steps to avoid them.

Will the metallic taste in the mouth go away after menopause?

That all depends on the cause. If the metallic taste is due to hormonal fluctuations, you may notice that after you reach menopause, the symptom gradually disappears.
However, if the metallic taste is due to something else, for example, a zinc deficiency or a medication you are taking, it won’t go away until you address the root cause.

When should I consult the doctor regarding the metallic taste in my mouth?

In most cases, the metallic taste isn’t problematic. When you follow proper oral hygiene, it goes away. If hormonal imbalances are the reason, you could find your taste buds attaining normalcy after menopause. Having said this, it is also important to note that you should be aware of your symptoms. If the metallic taste persists and doesn’t go away even after trying the home remedies, or if you have other associated symptoms, you should consult the doctor immediately.

Can hormone therapy help menopausal women with their oral health?

The role of hormone therapy in dealing with oral problems triggered by menopause is unknown. However, HRT has been beneficial in dealing with several menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes, sleep issues, etc. 
Suppose you are constantly troubled with metallic taste or other problems like burning mouth syndrome or dry mouth because of hormonal imbalances. In that case, you may talk to your doctor if you wish to try hormone replacement therapy. When you go for the proper treatment, you can reap the maximum benefits of HRT.

Conclusion

Out of all the women I’ve worked with in my research, only a small number of them have complained of a metallic taste in the mouth. 

So, while hormonal fluctuations during menopause can contribute to the problem, it’s not the only potential cause. There are plenty of other factors that can affect your taste perception and lead to a metallic taste. And while most of them aren’t serious, it’s still important to find out what is causing the issue.

So, if you’re experiencing a persistent metallic taste and you’re not sure why, speak to your doctor. They can rule out any underlying conditions, identify the true cause, and help you to find relief.

Author

  • Dr. Karen Pike

    Dr. Pike is a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. She received her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and played collegiate soccer. She attended Georgetown University for medical school and performed her residency in emergency medicine at Stanford University. She was part of the first-ever, women-majority emergency medicine program in United States. Dr. Pike is also the primary medical consultant for “Grey’s Anatomy,” a role she has held since the pilot episode when she partnered with Shonda Rhimes as the show’s original medical consultant. At her hospital, she was the second woman Chief of Staff. Today serves as the Director of the Emergency Department. Whether in leadership or direct patient care, her dedication to excellence in communication, quality, and collaboration is unwavering.