Does Your Sense of Smell Affect How Much You Enjoy Sex?

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Scientists just found an interesting link between scents and sex.

Hold up. Stop the presses. You know what? I'll stop the presses. Because scientists found a link between sense of smell and sex, and I can't get the implications off my mind.

Johanna Bendas, a scientist at Technische Universität Dresden, and her colleagues brought in 70 men and women to smell "Sniffin’ Sticks" — sticks that release smells. Then they had participants answer questions about their sex lives. The researchers found that people with better senses of smell enjoyed sex more.

And not just a little more. Women with poor senses of smell said they only orgasmed 17 percent of the time. Women with great senses of smell orgasmed 60 percent of the time.

"Certain body odors may contribute to the concept of sexual pleasure by enhanced recruitment of reward areas," write the researchers. Orgasms aren't everything, but it's hard to think of a more clearcut metric for sexual satisfaction.

Oh, and if you're a man wondering about all this: surprise! They didn't measure your orgasms. You probably aren't used to being overlooked by scientists, so this may be a novel experience for you.

"For perhaps obvious reasons, men weren’t asked about orgasm frequency," writes Robert Burriss, a clinical psychologist. (Obvious reasons? Not so sure about that. Do men know that they don't always have the easiest time with that one, or are they keeping it a secret from each other?)

Okay, so all this is interesting enough. But at this point, you may be thinking, "Ilana, what does that have to do with sustainability?"

Here's the thing: Pollution may be messing up our sense of smell. Last year, Kara Hoover, an expert on smell at the University of Alaska, made headlines when she announced that our noses weren't evolved for the modern world.

"Our sense of smell evolved in a very rich landscape in which we were interacting regularly with the environment," Hoover said. "Today we're not interacting with the environment and we're in very polluted places." Hoover says our decreased ability to smell is causing all kinds of problems, from obesity to depression.

So if skilled noses make for good sex, and senses of smell are getting worse ... Does that mean sex is getting worse? I won't make that claim, and I doubt scientists will either. You'd need a lot more experiments to prove it. But I can't stop wondering, just the same.