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.
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.
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.