3 Things You Need To Know About Your Scent & Sexual Attractiveness

A woman in a ruffled shirt holding a lite candle and crystal.

Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. 

Patrick Süskind

If I were to ask you what your most sexual sense was, what would you say? 

Perhaps you’d say touch. A soft caress, a brush of the lips. Or sight, maybe: a cute stranger on the street, a mutual smile, a flash of flesh. 

But don’t underestimate smell. 

Smell is our most ancient sense, intimately connected to memory and emotion. But it also plays a huge role in sexual attraction, as the famous sweaty t-shirt experiment taught us. The question is: why do some people’s smell arouse us, while others turn us off? 

Scent and sexual attraction

One theory explaining the connection between sexual attractiveness and body odor, is the idea that we want partners who have a different gene configuration of our own. That’s the underlying premise of all those sweaty t-shirts: we like the smells of people who promise us just the right amount of genetic diversity. 

But we can also sniff out emotional nuance. We smell differently when we’re stressed, scared…even horny. We possess a variety of sweat glands, some responsible for exercise and heat sweat, others for flight/flight. On top of that, our sweat contains proteins, lipids, hormone markers and other secret clues about our body and mind. So our natural smell may communicate to others how we’re feeling: a conversation happening body to body. 

Finally, we humans are adaptive learners, and quickly learn to associate certain smells with good or bad things. One person’s favorite perfume gives another nausea and a headache, armpits in general may remind you of stinky locker rooms. Until you’re up close and personal with someone’s armpits during sex, that is – and suddenly, BO doesn’t seem so bad after all. 

So whether it’s genetics, emotions, or learned associations, science is still parsing smell’s role in sexual attraction, and we’re still learning how to harness its power. Enter: pheromones. 

The role of pheromones in your sexual attractiveness

You’ve probably heard of pheromones before. Odorless compounds that animals secrete, influencing the behavior potential mates around them. They have the power to attract or repel based on immune compatibility, and wouldn’t you know it? We humans secrete them, too.

As a signaling molecule, pheromones are produced naturally in your body, and can help deepen the attraction of someone who’s interested. For example Eye of Love, leaders of pheromone-infused products worldwide, create pheromone-infused fragrances designed to enhance that connection. Using bioidentical vegan pheromones, the company crafts scents that stimulate the limbic region of the brain, prompting a release of phenethylamine: a nervous system stimulant that kicks on dopamine production.  

It’s one of many strategies you can use to potentially attract more sexual attention, in addition to the old-fashioned ways: flirting, being a good communicator, making your data app profile hot. But as a little added boost, pheromones (and the brands who utilize them) could stimulate a chemical cocktail that enhances your already-attractive qualities. By working on a different sensory level than looks alone, they tap into a more mysterious – but extremely powerful – source of attraction. 

If you have a strong sense of smell, is sex better? 

It sure looks like it. One recent study examined “high olfactory sensitivity” (having a strong sense of smell), and how it affected participants’ quality of sex. The results? Women with high olfactory sensitivity reported a higher frequency of orgasms during sexual intercourse. “The experience of sexual interactions appears to be enriched by olfactory input,” the studies authors wrote. That’s a fancy way of saying: if you’re a good smeller, your sex will benefit. 

So if that sounds appealing (better sex and more orgasms), can you actually sharpen your sense of smell? The answer is yes. Your nose is like a muscle, and you can strengthen it with “workouts:” smelling more and varied scents when you’re out in the world, taking notice of your environment around you. 

The bottom line is: smell is one key to your overall attractiveness, a key that none of us should sleep on. So on that note, I’d love to know – what smells turn you on? Has anyone’s scent ever driven you wild? Got a favorite perfume or cologne, that instantly turns you on? Talk to me on Instagram and share, at @sexwithemily. Feeling flirty? Use code EMILY for 15% off your purchase of Eye Of Love.