Sex Ed

How Your Sense Of Smell Shapes Your Sexual Experiences

June 11, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

It’s hardly a new revelation that our sense of smell plays an important role in our sexual and romantic lives. I mean, after all, the multi-billion dollar perfume, cologne, and deodorant industries are founded on the premise that smelling good is one of the keys to finding—and keeping—a relationship partner. The role our nostrils play in our sex lives appears to go much deeper than this, though. Smells don’t just have the potential to shape who we find to be attractive, but also how we experience sex itself.

A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into this, and it’s the subject of my latest column over at TONIC. A team of researchers based in Germany studied 70 healthy young adults about their sex lives and gave them a test of odor sensitivity. What they found was that people who were more sensitive to smells rated their sexual experiences as more pleasant. This was true for both men and women.

Interestingly, they also found that women with a stronger sense of smell had more frequent orgasms during intercourse; however, there was no link between sense of smell and orgasms among men.

What scientists think is happening here is that body odors are enhancing arousal among those with more sensitive noses (i.e., a pheromone-like effect). This study adds to a growing body of literature finding that smell seems to play a key role in both sexual attraction and sexual experience.

To learn more about this research and the role that our sense of smell plays in our sex lives, check out the full article in TONIC.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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