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Smell Disorders Linked to Lower Sex Drive

Smell Disorders Linked to Lower Sex DriveSex involves an interplay of all our senses. Sights, sounds, touches, and tastes can all spark sexual interest. But how about the sense of smell?

We might not realize it, but humans do communicate through smell. Research suggests that certain odors can trigger changes in hormones and arousal in the brain. Some experts believe that people with keener senses of smell might feel more sexual pleasure and reach orgasm more often.

So what happens when people lose their sense of smell? A recent study in the journal Physiology and Behavior considered this question.

Researchers worked with 100 people between the ages of 23 and 51 who had olfactory (smell-related) disorders. The medical term for this situation isanosmia, and it can have various causes, such as a nasal injury, exposure to toxins, or a congenital condition (present at birth). The participants filled out questionnaires related to sexual health.

Fifty-one people who did not have problems with smell served as a comparison group.

Among the participants who had lost their sense of smell, 29% said they had felt less sexual desire since the onset of anosmia. They were also more likely to feel depressed than the comparison group.

Some participants said they missed their partner’s scent, worried about their own odor, and felt less attractive.

The authors encouraged doctors to better understand how olfactory disorders might affect patients’ sex lives.


“Sense of Smell and Sexual Relationships”

Physiology & Behavior via

Schäfer, Laura, et al.

“Sexual desire after olfactory loss: Quantitative and qualitative reports of patients with smell disorders”

(Full-text. March 15, 2019)

Dolan, Eric W.

“Many smell disorder patients report decreased sexual desire after olfactory loss”

(January 11, 2019)


“What Is Anosmia?”

(Reviewed: April 23, 2017)