Age-old wisdom dictates that the way to a man's heart is through his... nose? As much as the stereotypical human male may appreciate the robust taste of a well marbled steak, modern studies indicate that the more sexually influential sense is actually scent and that it may be more powerful than we've been giving it credit for.
In a recent study, The American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) sniffed out the science behind the familiar folklore of aphrodisiacal fragrances. It turns out that the nose does, in fact, know. Out of the approximately 10,000 distinct odors that humans are able to detect, the researchers selected just 30 different scents that are unofficially reputed to be sexually arousing. They then presented these scents via facial mask to each of their male study participants, measuring their level of sexual arousal (based on penile blood flow) both before and after a 3 minute exposure period to the scent. The results? A resounding 100% of these carefully selected fragrances elicited a measurable increase in sexual arousal among the participants.
So what exactly are these magical smells, and what does this data mean outside of the laboratory? Speaking for myself it means I've wasted more money than I want to think about on the hot, new perfume du jour over the years, when all this time I could have just been pounding down doughnuts and spilling Pepsi on my shirt before every date.
Seriously... the combined scent of doughnuts and cola produced a median 12.5% spike in male arousal. It turns out that the smell of buttered popcorn is also a winner, eliciting a median 9% penile blood flow increase. Romantic movie night, anyone?
With the notable exception of orange (boasting an impressive 19.5% arousal increase), however, the truly "stiff" competition came from the fragrances that used a combination of 2 scents. Topping the list, black licorice and cola came in with a median 13% arousal increase, lavender and doughnut at an increase of 18%, pumpkin pie and doughnut at 20%, doughnut and black licorice at 31.5 %, and to handedly steal the show- the combined scent of lavender and pumpkin pie boasted an incredible 40% arousal increase!
The reason behind black licorice being an arousing smell is a total mystery to me (and will remain that way until the end of my days), but it's far from a fluke that the results of the study show a clear relationship between smell and sexuality. Humans experience smell through the brain's olfactory lobe, which is part of the limbic system from which sexual desire, emotional sensations, and erotic thoughts are derived. While scientists don't yet understand the full function of the relationship, the basic fact is that people are hardwired to be sexually excited by scent.
So next time you and your partner are in the mood, don't shortchange your senses! Try lighting a few scented candles. Experiment with different fragrances. Ask your partner what scents he/she enjoys the most. (I'm envisioning ripe potential for a sexy, blindfolded, smell-test game.) The fun possibilities are limited only by your creativity; go forth and explore a scentsual new world!
*** Note: For the extra enthusiastic, you can find the complete list of all 30 fragrances and their corresponding effect on penile blood flow at the very bottom of the AANOS experiment report page here http://aanos.org/humanmalesexualresponsetoolfactorystimuli/Have fun!