Smell Is Our Least Appreciated Sense: How Smell Affects Our Sex Lives and Health

May 17, 2019 by Justin Lehmiller

You just might be taking your sense of smell for granted, argues Dr. Rachel Herz in the TEDx video below. In this talk, Herz describes how little appreciation we have for our sense of smell, while also describing the myriad powerful ways that smell affects our quality of life.

Smell affects everything from how our food tastes to which sexual partners we choose to our overall physical and psychological well-being. The video below explores these and other ways that our sense of smell impacts us. Of course, given that this is the Sex and Psychology blog, the sex part is likely what readers will find most interesting, so if you want to skip ahead to that portion, it begins around the 9-minute mark.

While Herz focuses primarily on the role of smell in attraction and mate selection, other research suggests that smell shapes our entire sexual experience. For example, people who are more sensitive to smells tend to report more pleasure from sex and (at least among women) more frequent orgasms! To learn more about this research and about how our sense of smell affects our sex lives more broadly, check out these articles:

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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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