sniffWhen I read this recent interview with British actress Jacqueline Bisset the Daily Mail, something she said totally resonated with me: While discussing what attracts her to a man, she stated, “For me, smell is intoxicating.”

Like Bisset, smell is a huge turn-on for me. If a man doesn’t have the right aroma, there’s no attraction. But, if he does smell wonderful, it almost doesn’t even matter what he looks like.

But, here’s where it gets complicated: Some days, I prefer the spicy scent of a man’s cologne. Other days, I prefer him au naturel. This back-and-forth definitely keeps my husband on his toes!

In looking for a reason behind how someone’s aroma can “intoxicate”–and why the preference in scent can change–I came across a 2000 study in the journal Psychophysiology that found some intriguing revelations about scents.

If you’re anything like me and Jacqueline Bisset and love scents, then you might find this interesting:

Turns out, our response to a fragrance or natural aroma in a potential partner changes across our menstrual cycle.

In the first half of our cycle–almost all the way up to ovulation, but not quite–breathing in a fragrance increases genital arousal while we fantasize, either alone or with a partner.

However, this study suggests something different occurs during our ovulatory phase: During ovulation, we experience greater genital arousal when there’s no fragrance.

So, what’s going on?

Well, the researchers theorize that during the first half of our cycle as estrogen rises, we may be associating the scent of a cologne with past intimate experiences or there may be a mechanism in the brain that reacts to fragrances in a way that boosts our physical response, making intimacy more pleasurable.

As for why we suddenly prefer an au naturel scent state during ovulation–when estrogen is at its peak–the researchers speculate that, perhaps, because high estrogen during ovulation is giving us a keener sense of smell, the scent of cologne may be too overpowering and, therefore, unpleasant.

I rarely do armchair quarterbacking and prefer to simply report on what the researchers have found or what their theories are. However, in this rare case I’m going to jump right in with my own theory on why we prefer no fragrances during ovulation–which you’re totally free to take with a grain of salt:

Since research shows there are so many changes that occur at ovulation–and the vast majority of them are for the sole purpose of increasing the chance of finding a strong, healthy mate to fertilize our adorable little egg–then, personally, I feel that we might be more turned on by a partner who isn’t wearing any fragrance because it allows us to sniff out the person’s genetic profile to figure out just how much of a good match-up we’re getting.

Numerous studies show we can determine someone’s health and even some aspects of their personality through certain chemicals emitted in their sweat. By masking that natural scent with a phony one, it would make it more difficult for us to get all the clues our hormones push us to look for during ovulation.

But, hey, I’m sure I’m not the only one with a theory. Why do you think this scent change occurs during our cycle? Let me know your thoughts!

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