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Dr. C.
Dr. C., Board Certified
Category: OB GYN
Satisfied Customers: 3064
Experience:  30 years of experience and an award-winning educator.
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I am 9 weeks pregnant with twins. It is my first pregnancy.

Customer Question

I am 9 weeks pregnant with twins. It is my first pregnancy. My sense of smell is heightened and although I had washed my jeans I thought they still smelt odd - so I literally drenched them in perfume. I am now worried that the amount of perfume I sprayed on the jeans could somehow affect the babies as it is so close to my vagina... Please would you tell me if perfume spray (chemical?) can harm an unborn baby if sprayed on items of clothing worn next to the vagina? I would be so grateful for your answer... Thank you
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: OB GYN
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 8 months ago.

Hi, It's Dr. C. Board certified Ob-gyne. I can help you today.

Congratulations on your pregnancy. The heightened sense of smell is common in early pregnancy and should pass by the end of the first trimester. It's theoretically possible that the phthalates found in many perfumes can act as hormone disruptors. This has been shown to be possible in test tube studies. But there are no research studies or evidence that this happens in human fetuses at typical exposures. To be on the safe side, it might be best to avoid a lot of exposure to phthalates during pregnancy but again there is no evidence that the amounts in perfume absorbed through the skin are harmful.

I hope this was helpful and reassuring. Please reply if I can add details or clarify anything. I want to be sure you have the most helpful information for your situation.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I don't feel you answered my question. I asked about perfume being near the vagina and whether that could be a problem?
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 8 months ago.

Sorry if it wasn't clear. Let me explain better. Perfumes often contain chemical substances called phthalates. Phthalates are suspected to be disrupters of hormonal functioning. This can in theory interfere with early pregnancy development. If this is true in humans at levels found in perfumes, the expected result would be an increased risk of miscarriage. We haven't seen this association in humans at levels found in perfumes though. But because this area hasn't been studied well, it would be best to avoid high levels of perfumes in early pregnancy. Some of the phthalates can be absorbed thought the skin from the jeans and enter into a womans blood stream that way. From the blood stream, they can be carried to the placenta and baby. Again this is not been proven to happen but in the test tube, we do see that it's possible.

I hope that was clearer? Let me know if I can still explain better.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Would the result be solely miscarriage or could it cause birth defects?
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 8 months ago.

In theory, they could possibly cause birth defects impacting the genital and reproductive functions as well. This has been suspected as a cause of rising rates of infertility and genital abnormalities but has not been proven.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
you're saying that because I sprayed perfume on my jeans and then put the jeans on, that I have reason to worry that I have potentially caused birth defects in my unborn children?
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 8 months ago.

No I don't think there is any reason to believe that. In the laboratory setting at high levels, there is some suspicion that phthalates cause disruption in various hormonal functions, but this hasn't been found or proven in humans ever. I hope that's reassuring.