Sensation Play- Smells Like Sex

The Sweet Smell of Success

To me, smell is the country music of the senses. It’s the moist air after a rainstorm. It’s rose petals on the bed. It’s autumn leaves rustling in the wind. Have you ever noticed how quickly a smell can trigger a reaction?

I was working with a man once on a creative exercise and when he opened a box of crayons, he smiled and said, “Wow, that smells like childhood.” Few things can trigger memories quite like smell. That’s because the receptors in the nose send signals to
multiple areas of the brain, including the olfactory bulb, which is part of the brain’s limbic system. This area is sometimes called the “emotional brain” because this area processes memories and feelings.

These receptors take note of seven sensations, generally categorized as camphor, musk, ether, acrid, putrid, mint and flower. The connection between smell and memory is so strong that people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy after a year, while the recall of an image is only about 50% after three months.

While we tend to put more emphasis on the senses of sight, touch and sound when it comes to romantic relationships (How does my partner look? How does my partner feel? How sexy is my partner’s voice?), smell is actually one of the most important senses utilized in sexual attraction due to the invisible pheromones that we share.

These invisible chemicals are so powerful that they carry a greater influence than we
may realize. For evolutionary reasons, both men and women have learned to be attracted to partners with different immune systems than their own, because the combined immune systems help create stronger offspring.

Women are more sensitive to the smell of pheromones than men, and they affect a woman’s love biochemical receptors. In his book The Owners Manual of the Brain, Dr. Pierce J. Howard shows that pheromones can even be at the root of a romantic disconnect, even after a relationship has started. The make-up of many birth control pills causes women to be attracted to men with similar immune systems, as detected via pheromones.

But after a long period of time, including into marriage, a woman may go off her birth control, and suddenly wonder why she was ever attracted to such a man.

Given the strong connection between smell and emotion, it’s important to be aware of what smells work and don’t work for your partner. For instance, Napoleon specifically asked his wife Josephine not to bathe for the two weeks before he returned from battle because he liked her natural scent. Would she have done this if he hadn’t asked?

“Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.”– Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

As a side note, did you realize that the vagina doesn’t need to be douched? As Eve Ensler, playwright of The Vagina Monologues says, “My vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already.” She’s right; the vagina is the cleanest place in the female body with a perfect pH balance that is self-cleaning.

It can be confusing to understand what smells work for some and not for others because our own sense of scents is so engrained in our minds that we may not even realize the psychological aspects at play.

What may remind you of great sex could remind your partner of a bad break up so, if in doubt, go for the cleanest smells possible as a starting point and build up from there.


♥ While beautiful to look at, make sure the scent of flowers is a positive experience. Don’t place them near ripening fruit or vegetables, as they will wilt quicker.
♥ Don’t use scented candles during a meal because their smell could conflict with the aroma of the food.
♥ Experiment with soaps, lotions, shampoos and essential oils to find out which ones you and your partner find most pleasing.
♥ Shower with your partner and enjoy the purity of their clean smell.
♥ Put potpourri sachets in your undies drawer.
♥ Spray flower scents around your bedroom before sleep to promote more positive dreams.

Clinical trials have shown that the smell of lavender can help in insomnia, anxiety,
stress, and post-operative pain, according to a report from Maryland University.

Only Your Nose Knows

“We crave love; we go through withdrawal from love; we relapse into love; we pursue love at all costs.” – Dr. Helen Fisher

Aromatherapy can be a great way to enhance intimacy. In studies conducted by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, the scent of pumpkin pie was found to increase penile blood flood by 40% while increasing sexual desire in women as well. Who says you have to wait until Thanksgiving?

Here’s a list of additional scents to keep in mind, as they have been known to increase sex drive:

♥ Basil
♥ Cedarwood
♥ Sage
♥ Ginger
♥ Geranium
♥ Jasmine
♥ Juniper
♥ Lavender
♥ Patchouli
♥ Sandalwood
♥ Ylang Ylang
♥ Vanilla

So, turn on yours and your partner’s senses with some scents!

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Dr. Ava Cadell is America’s #1 Sexpert as a Clinical Sexologist, Sex Counselor, Founder of Loveology University & President of the American College of Sexologists International. Author of 9 books including the upcoming Sexycises by Sexperts: Intimacy Through Yoga, Dr. Ava is also a sought after media therapist & global speaker; her mission is to empower people to overcome sexual guilt & shame so they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, sexual relationships. Find her at


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