The Holistic Lover

Sex Smells: How Natural Odors Can Affect Your Love Life

By on February 26, 2014


When it comes to attraction, the nose knows. As Sam Benjamin discovers, what you smell can affect how you feel when it comes to sex.

We live in a world pervaded by unnatural scents – Speed Sticks, so-called “air fresheners,” our boss or our co-worker’s ill-chosen perfume. It’s no wonder, then, that our noses tend to shut off from time to time: it’s in the name of self-preservation.

A carefully-selected aroma can go a long way in the bedroom. Scent is a natural aphrodisiac, one of our oldest and most reliable. Here are a few tips to get your snout twitching with pleasure.

Scents Are Subtle, But Crucial

Women often choose their mates via pheromones — which are barely discernable scents that convey a dossier’s worth of information about their potential partner. Pheromones can give us the lowdown on the genetic makeup of an individual, and give us hints about whether or not we feel comfortable and aroused with a person. If you take the time to tune into your partner’s subtle musk, you can receive important hints about your potential compatibility. So, if you’re feeling wishy-washy, snuggle close, cleanse yourself of any unnatural odors… and breathe deep!

Note: Sexologist Dr. Laura Berman believes that women who are on the pill may have trouble following the cues they glean via pheromones. Berman says: “Women on the pill experience hormonal changes that can interfere with this law of “scent attraction.” This can lead to trouble picking the right partner. In fact, a woman who goes off the pill may suddenly realize that she’s no longer attracted to the pheromones that her partner emits.

What Smells Are Sexy? 

Sense of smell is very personal, so the answer to this conundrum depends a great deal on taste. Some men like the scent of vanilla: it conveys a domesticity and sweetness reminiscent of a home kitchen to them, and that’s a turn on. (To me, it conveys my seventh-grade math teacher, Mrs. Hartdress, who applied it so liberally before every period that her wrists and neck glistened powerfully for the forty-five minutes that she taught us about pre-Algebra. I’m not a vanilla man.)

For the hippies among us, the sexiest smells are often the most natural ones. Aromatherapy, aphrodisiac blends often include Ylang Ylang essential oil, which pervades a rich fragrance that’s appropriate for both sexes. Ylang Ylang blends well with both floral and wood scents, and a few well-placed drops of it in your massage oil or body lotion can really transform the mood.

Integrating Smell into Your Sex Life

Bringing smells into your bedroom should be fun and playful. Try blindfolding your partner, and let him smell different parts of your body: your hair, your heart, your pits, your wrists, your genitals. Are your armpits spicy and warm? Does the smell of your shampoo bring back a rush of early memories?

Candles can also be a wonderful tool for integrating smells into your sex life. Emily Morse and Tony Sosnick recently developed a line of Aromatherapy Massage Candles. The candles emit seductive scents like cedar, vetiver, patchouli and amber. When they liquefy, the oil can be slowly poured onto your beloved’s body. A sensual massage may follow… you can take it from there.

Smells From Around the World

Still don’t believe smells are important? Check out these facts published by the Social Issues Research Center in their Smell Report:

– In some Arab cultures, it’s good manners to breathe on your partner during conversation. To deny your partner the smell of your breath conveys a humiliating lack of involvement.

– Among the Desana tribe of the Amazon, all members of the tribe are believed to share a similar odor, and marriage can only occur between people of different odors. The Batek Negrito tribe of the Malay Peninsula agree: not only can you not marry or make love to someone with your odor, sitting too close to them for long is considered to be treacherous.

– Among the cattle-centric culture of the Dassanetch of Ethiopia, the scent of cows is extremely desirable. Men wash their hands in cattle urine, or bedaub their bodies with manure in order to attract potential mates.

– To the Dogon of Mali, the scent of an onion is highly intoxicating. Men rub fried onions over their bodies, creating a powerful perfume.

So there you have it! Enjoy your own experiments with aromas! Even if you probably won’t be frying up a pan’s worth of onions and bringing them into your bedroom, your own creative scents will doubtlessly infuse your own sex life with purpose, power, and pleasure.


What scents turn you on?