It’s common and normal for your sex drive to fluctuate from day to day. It’s even more normal for your desire to not always match up with your partner’s. However, a consistently low libido may point to an underlying condition. We’ve covered the causes of low libido in a previous post. Read on to learn more about how the sense of smell affects sex drive and different things you can do to help support your libido and sex drive.
How Your Sense of Smell Affects Sex Drive
Smell plays an important role in attraction and sex drive. Unpleasant odors of any kind can be a turnoff, and when your partner has not bathed or showered in a while, you are unlikely to want to get physically close, much less intimate, with them.
However, there are some exceptions. In one study, women actually found male body odor pleasant, but only when it came from men with a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) different from their own. The MHC is a group of genes that play a role in the immune system’s ability to recognize foreign or invasive molecules. Having a mate with different MHC gives offspring a genetic advantage as it helps to avoid genetic diseases due to inbreeding and ensures a stronger, more diverse immune system.1
A related study also suggests that this odor preference changes based on a woman’s pregnancy status and use of oral contraceptives. The study found that women who were not on birth control were more drawn to the body odor of men with a dissimilar MHC, while those taking oral contraceptives preferred the scent of MHC-similar men.2
Men also have their own preferences for women’s body odor. A study found that men may be able to discern women’s ovulation based on female body odor.3 Ovulation is the process of releasing an egg and is the time when a woman is most fertile. If the egg is not fertilized within 24 hours of ovulation, she won’t become pregnant for that cycle. Ovulation typically occurs 14 days before menses. Studies suggest that men find the body odor of women who are about to ovulate to be more attractive than the body odor of women who have already ovulated, which may influence men’s cognition and behavior.4
Scents and Essential Oils That Support Sex Drive
Along with body odor, certain foods, scents, and essential oils may help support sexual desire and libido.
Libido Boosting Foods
What you put into your body affects your body odor, which may in turn affect your partner’s attraction to you. A study found that subjects who ate diets rich in fruits and vegetables had more pleasant smelling sweat, independent of the actual intensity of sweat. Self-reported data from the data found that diets high in fat, meat, egg, and tofu intake were associated with more pleasant smelling sweat, while high carbohydrate intake was associated with less pleasant sweat.5
Deodorants offer the practicality of keeping sweat and body odor in check, but one study evaluated the correlation between the use of artificial fragrances and perceptions of masculinity and femininity in independent sets of same- and opposite-sex participants. The study found that women were much more attentive to odor cues as well as to disruptions to odors through the use of fragrance.6
The scientific research on how essential oils may impact sex drive remains limited, but some essential oils have been linked with potential positive benefits to libido.
One study looked at the effects of inhaling East Indian sandalwood essential oil and its main component, alpha-santalol, on physiological parameters and self-ratings of arousal. Results found that the sandalwood oil presented greater increases in pulse rate, skin conductance level, and systolic blood pressure. However, alpha-santalol triggered higher self-ratings for attentiveness and mood. Analyses on correlation suggest an association with perceived odor quality.7
In a rat study, aqueous seed extracts from Casimiroa edulis were studied for their effects on sexual behavior in male rats. Results of the study found improvements in mating response parameters, which included mounting frequency, intromission frequency, mounting latency, and intromission latency. These improvements were comparable to those of the standard reference treatment, sildenafil citrate, commonly known by its brand name Viagra.8
A systematic review on aromatherapy for sexual problems in menopausal women also found that lavender essential oils significantly improved sexual function and desire without any significant changes to serum estrogen levels.9
Along with essential oils, there are also a variety of herbal remedies that may increase your sex drive. You can read more about natural herbal remedies to increase libido in women in our post here.
With the right essential oils and extracts and cooperation from your partner, you may be able to boost your libido naturally. If you are experiencing a consistently low sex drive, talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying health issues. Along with using essential oils, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, and choosing better times to be intimate, consider a natural supplement, like DrFormulas® Libido Booster for Women or DrFormulas® Male Enhancement, to boost your sex drive and maintain a healthy sex life.