Why She Needs Him to Shower

Today’s post is for the gentlemen. Listen up, guys: You’d be surprised how often I hear from a wife saying that she’s struggling with kissing or having sex or even finding her husband attractive because he doesn’t smell good.

And you might be one of those husbands who isn’t making his wife’s nose happy. Without realizing it. Please keep reading.

Women have a better sense of smell.

A couple walks into the house, and she scrunches up her nose, grimaces, and asks, “What’s that stench?” He furrows his brow and answers, “I don’t smell anything.” That’s not because she’s making it up or he’s not paying attention. Rather, her sense of smell is biologically superior, so that she can detect odors he cannot.

Research has shown that women have 43% more brain cells in the olfactory bulbs (where sense of smell is detected) than men. More importantly, gals have double the olfactory bulb neurons, which send signals about smells in our brains.

Women also learn smells better. In one study, men and women were exposed to specific smells. With repeated exposure, women increased their sensitivity to smell by 100,000 fold; that is, with only 1/100,000th of the smell, women could still detect the odor. Meanwhile, men showed zero improvement over time.

Why are we superior smellers? I don’t know. Ask the Creator. Or at least a biologist who can explain why women’s better sense of smell or man’s worse sense of smell uniquely position them to perform some role they typically have in society.

But the upshot is that if you didn’t put on deodorant, she knows. If you didn’t brush your teeth, she knows. If you didn’t shower, she knows. And it bothers her. Not because she’s trying to nitpick, but because her God-given sense of smell can’t help it.

See The New York Times: Why Stinky Socks May Bother Women More Than Men; Daily Mail: Women really DO have a better sense of smell than men; Science Daily: The female nose always knows: Do women have more olfactory neurons?

Men emit stronger smells.

Sorry, dude, but you smell more than she does. Now that can be a really good thing. Because wives are the ones who say things like, “When he’s away, I go into his closet, sniff his shirts, and savor his scent.” We’re attuned to that unique, masculine scent that belongs to our husband.

But he’s sporting not so much his masculine scent as a lacking-in-hygiene odor, he’s still sending that smell out more than we ladies do. Don’t blame me: it’s biology.

And fragrances — deodorant, aftershave, cologne — don’t balance a lack of grooming. One interesting study showed that while women and men can produce equally stinky sweat, fragrances combined with the sweat masked female underarm odor better than male odor. So use the deodorant, but don’t ignore the shower, the tooth-brushing, etc.

See Live Science: Women Smell Better Than Men; Fatherly: The Science Behind Why Women Want to Smell Men.

Smell is related to attraction.

Smells trigger a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls our instincts and visceral emotions. This is why walking into a room that smells like your mama’s roast can elicit an immediate feeling of comfort, as well as hunger. Likewise, scents we connect with our loved ones can trigger emotions. But, again, smells and their related emotions can be positive or negative.

Plenty of research has connected scent with romantic attraction. A few studies have linked a higher testosterone scent as being more appealing to women (though results are not entirely clear). But women do tend to rate as better smelling those men who are genetically dissimilar — perhaps as a way for us to choose a mate who can balance our genes in our offspring. 

Though perhaps one of the coolest studies is one in which women were asked to smell their own male partner’s shirt, a stranger’s shirt, and an unworn shirt. When exposed to their own man’s T-shirt (worn after good hygiene and diet, but no fragrance), women reported less stress and showed a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone. Moreover, those stress-relieving effects were highest in women who could identify their man’s scent and were thus aware of having been exposed to their beloved.

Point being: Your natural scent (unimpeded by body odor) can have a calming, and thus appealing, effect on your wife. Again, another reason why she might smell your shirt or your pillowcase when you’re gone.

See Men’s Journal: The Connection between Scent and Sexual Attraction; The New York Times: Studies Explore Love and the Sweaty T-Shirt; Time: Smelling Your Lover’s Shirt May Make You Less Stressed.

What does all this mean? Well, you need to shower regularly, probably every day, and you might need to shower again before having sex. You need to use deodorant or antiperspirant, and if you don’t like the commercial products, look for natural alternatives. Keep facial hair clean and groomed. And brush your teeth, because breath matters too.

Ask your wife to give you the smell test and make sure you pass, because she is smelling things you don’t. So while you might think you smell just fine, her extra-sensitive nose might be catching some not-so-attractive odor and she really just wants your special man-scent.

And if you think it’s really annoying that your wife is so attuned to her sense of smell? Consider a study that showed women with a better sense of smell also reported higher sexual satisfaction and increased frequency of orgasms. You have to admit that finding is certainly curious.

See Archives of Sexual Behavior: Olfactory Function Relates to Sexual Experience in Adults

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18 thoughts on “Why She Needs Him to Shower

  1. Anonymous

    I confirm that women have a better sense of smell from personal experience. My wife can smell things that I cannot smell, especially in our basement. I use to think that she was just imagining the smells…not anymore!

    Reply
  2. Terry

    For me brushing teeth is as much about how the teeth look as how the breath smells. In my dating years I discovered that one of my unconscious criteria was clean, straight teeth. I suppose every girl had her deal-breakers but I apparently noticed teeth. Even if they were straight, If the teeth looked goopey and yellow, no thank you! My husband may not have symmetrical features, but at least his teeth are straight and clean (most of the time). I’m not sure I could kiss him otherwise.

    Reply
  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Interesting, though I think I would have been mortified if, when I was still able to travel to conferences, my wife had been smelling my clothes in the closet. That would have struck me as beaucoup weird.

    What one eats and drinks makes a difference, too – even to men. Garlic and onions, alcohol and coffee, and even milk – all can leave an ‘arresting’ complex of odor that’s hard to forget.

    I once read that it took a very confident individual to order french onion soup on a first date.

    And then, of course, there’s smoking. There’s no sneaking a cigarette and covering it up with breath mints!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      True on the smoking thing. One time my son came home and smelled of smoke, and I started to interrogate him. He had to explain that his friend’s dad was grilling, and the follow-up backed up his story. Lol.

      Reply
      1. alchemist

        What kind of a grill smells like cigarette smoke? The smells aren’t even remotely similar.

        Or where you concerned that you had a budding arsonist on your hands?

        Reply
  4. S

    REALLY glad you covered this, J!

    I FEEL so very nitpicky when it comes to smells and I feel guilty about it because I love him and don’t want to be interrupting the moment with a complaint about his armpit odor.

    So it’s helpful to know that it’s a biological thing. I can’t HELP but smell it more strongly. 😉

    Reply
  5. Mark

    J,

    There were times when I was out to sea for a few days. Sure I took a little sponge wash daily but that didn’t exactly cut it, when being around seafood,, haha.

    Sometimes on those longer trips, that she would meet me at the door with a nice little kiss. She showers everyday so in a matter of 2 seconds, she informs me I need to take a shower. I would tease her “baby, that is the smell of money” somehow that wasn’t a good enough reason to avoid showering before intimacy,, haha
    I only go on day trips during the summer months now, making it possible for me to shower on a daily basis.

    Seriously this is a fun post, but also a good little reminder that with intimacy good hygiene is essential to enhance the romantic ambiance of making love.

    Otherwise the woman is staring into the ceiling trying to navigate through unfulfilling sex.

    Reply
  6. Grace

    My husband is in construction—need I say more! He usually comes in the back door and heads straight to the shower in the summer and if it’s more than a few hours until bedtime, he takes another to keep from being sticky with fresh sweat because it’s no fun to sleep naked if your skin peels apart when you move in the night.

    Reply
  7. Lynn

    I’m glad my husband is bothered by sweat, because I sweat like a horse during those ‘special times’! He rarely sweats and never has an odor; I guess it’s just natural for him. But garlic breath – oh, that’s another story!

    Reply
  8. Hell

    I love the native deodorant too. I mean I still get sweaty but i don’t have that sweat stink no more 😂😂 i def. wouldn’t use no other deodorant 👌🏻

    Reply
  9. jls

    My husband used to tell me I was part wolf because I could smell a difference in his sweat when he was stressed working on his PhD. He couldn’t understand how I could smell it. But I definitely did. Now he often asks me for “backup sniffing” if we have to locate odd odors in the house, when sometimes I’d really rather not have that odor in my nose. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Eli

    When I was a child, I went to Papua New Guinea. At first, the smells of smoke (from outdoor cooking) and body odor disgusted me. But, I liked the people so I determined to get past the smell so I could like them without being bothered by what they couldn’t really change. Im glad I chose to do that because to this day, I don’t mind those smells so much. Bad breath is another story..

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    My wife does not have a sense of smell (olfaction)! This does have its benefits obviously, but it also limits some of the enjoyment that the rest of us get from smell.

    Reply
  12. libl

    Brush your teeth, don’t have a neckbeard, control your weight, dress nicely, wear deodorant, shower regularly, and don’t leave your laundry on the floor. Am I talking to grown men or teenage boys!?

    Reply
  13. Orgasmless Basset Hound

    Women with a better sense of smell also experience more sexual satisfaction and orgasms? Well, that would be great if it were true for me! 😝 lol. Too bad one doesn’t instantly equal the other haha.

    Reply

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