The Scent of Desire: Do Aromas Fuel Sex in Your Marriage?

One Christmas I bought my husband a cologne that absolutely drove me wild from a sexual standpoint.

He hated the name of it, though, and wasn’t as gripped by the scent as I was. So his love for it didn’t exactly mirror mine.

And far be it from me to make my husband wear a cologne with a name he hates. I mean, I have a soul, people.

And it’s not like he had much to lose by not wearing it. It doesn’t exactly take much to get my attention sexually. Plus, there are other colognes he wears that have the same effect on me. He likes their names and scents way better than the second-rate Christmas gift from days gone by.

In fact, recently the scent of one was still lingering on him from the night before, and I thought to myself, “You could be covered in grime, but if you swam through a pool of this, we’d be good to go.”

I buried my face in his shirt.

But it was like 8:30 in the morning and and he was trying to make his protein shake and our son was asking where the Pop Tarts were. It wasn’t exactly an ideal setting for foreplay, so I buried my face in his shirt one more time and told him I would meet up with him later. He smiled.

Are there certain aromas that arouse you?

Of course, what I’m talking about here are scents we can put on our body and easily recognize. The study of pheromones is something completely different (but some say pheromones also play a role in sexual attraction).

As for pheromones, scientists have known for years that some animals and insects naturally excrete chemicals from their body that then have an effect on how other animals of the same species respond, particularly during mating.

There is noticeable scent to some of the pheromones, but no scent at all to other ones. It’s simply a chemical compound that is sending a signal.

But what about the power of pheromones in humans?  Well, it’s up for debate.

The study of pheromones tries to answer questions like, “Is a man more likely to be drawn to a woman who is ovulating solely because his sub-conscious is picking up on a pheromone from her body?” and “Does something in a man’s sweat pique the interest of a woman?”

Scientists have studied pheromones for decades, but there is not a strong consensus on the role, if any, pheromones play in sexual attraction and arousal in humans.

Lack of consensus hasn’t stopped companies from producing synthetic versions of pheromones and marketing them accordingly, particularly synthetic pheromones added to perfumes and colognes.

I tend to be in the camp with scientists who believe that human sexual attraction cannot be reduced to one thing. There are a lot of components at play, and not everything can be explained by a chemical reaction.

Animals are driven almost solely by instinct, whereas humans have the ability to weigh more factors.

“We use all sorts of cues, and certainly a pheromone alone is unlikely, in my opinion, to do it. It’s part of a whole package,” said Dr. Stuart Firestein, who studies the science of smell at Columbia University and was interviewed for one of ABC’s 20/20 stories on pheromones.

Pheromone debate aside, a married couple certainly would be wise to pay attention to the recognizable scents they can control. We all have our likes and dislikes, and certainly smells can be a powerful trigger.

It’s why the aroma of Thanksgiving dinner can conjure up memories of being at grandma’s, and why real estate staging experts will tell you to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies the day of your open house.

The point is smells affect us. They just do. This can be true for sexual arousal as well. Some smells are repulsive and some are captivating.

A friend of mine said that the smell of beer on her husband’s breath was arousing for her. It was the smell that was sexually intoxicating, she would say, not intoxication itself.  He could take one sip and it would heighten her sexual arousal. He didn’t have to drink the entire beer.

Of course, the most common scents we add to our body are colognes and perfumes. But lotions, deodorants, hair care products, and even laundry products can have an effect too.  Many people (myself included) like the smell of clean, so certainly coming to bed freshly showered lowers inhibitions.

Have you asked your husband if there are particular scents he finds sexually arousing? Have you ever told him which scents you find arousing?

Unfortunately, some couples will go years never being honest about this, all in the name of politeness. Then they discover a decade into their marriage that the husband is turned off by the scent of lavender. And she LOVES lavender!

It’s not that she can’t keep wearing lavender lotion; she just might not want to smear it across her entire body before crawling into bed.

Or if there is a fragrance that reminds him of his mother or his brutally strict 8th-grade English teacher, you gotta realize that neither of these images is going to help spice things up in your marriage bed.

Be sensitive to one another. If you know a scent is a turn on or a turn off, strive to be accommodating.

And if there’s a cologne you love on your husband’s body, but he has a huge mental block about the name, find a different cologne with a name that has better curb appeal (or bed appeal, as the case may be).

Better yet, make a date night of going to the store, smelling different colognes and finding one for each of you that you both find sexy!

You might be pleasantly surprised to discover a few love potions can rev up sexual desire with the person you love.

Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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2 thoughts on “The Scent of Desire: Do Aromas Fuel Sex in Your Marriage?

  1. Johanna Galyen says:


    I totally understand. Scents have the same effect on my memories and moods. I love how Old Spice conjures up sweet memories of my Dad. Rich chocolate cake fresh out of the oven makes my mouth water and my heart beats a little bit faster.

    A few years ago, I put on my Christmas wish list a bottle of J’dore by Dior….and my husband bought it!!!! I simply love this scent with it’s spicy, floral overtones. With our daughter’s asthma, I don’t get to wear it often. But on date nights, and we’re leaving the house, I will spritz a little bit on me right before we leave. I love how it totally changes my mood and makes me feel a bit friskier! 🙂

    And then there are his scents. My husband does not wear cologne or aftershave. He just doesn’t like it. But a few years back, I started buying Axe shower gel. And wow! Apollo, White Label Island, Phoenix, and Dark Temptation are amazing. The scent lingers for a few hours and I *love* *love* *love* it!!!!

    Each scent makes for a different atmosphere whether fun & light like a tropical vacation. Powerful and poignant with Phoenix and Apollo (like his muscles and love for me!)….and then there’s Dark Temptation. And yeah. Let’s just say that it’s incredible. *swoon worthy!* Those showers often leave our children pounding on the door wondering what is taking so long!!!!!!

  2. J. Parker says:

    I love those places where you can get a cologne, perfume, or body spray tailored to your tastes. I experimented a bunch at a local place and now have a body spray that fits my personality and tastes really well. They actually keep my combination on file, such that my husband went in and reordered it for me for Christmas — along with bath salts in the same scent. I suspect pairing a person and a scent for a while would eventually lead a spouse to just need the scent to think about, and even feel aroused about, the spouse. Kind of a Pavlov’s passion dog thing.

    As for me, I just like his manly clean smell. (Though I cannot recall burying my face in his shirt…)

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