How Your Menstrual Cycle Changes the Way Perfume Smells (2023)

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Is Your Period Affecting Your Sense of Smell?

by Jess Beech

How Your Menstrual Cycle Changes the Way Perfume Smells (1)

Image Source: Getty / Javier Zayas Photography

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Menstrual Cycle Week 1: Citrus, Bergamot, and Herbs

Image Source: Illustrations by Michelle Alfonso

What's going on?
The first day of your cycle is the first day of your period, which is when your body starts to shed the lining of the uterus. Your hormone levels drop at this point, and oestrogen is low.

How are you likely to feel?
Hands up if you've ever felt good on day one of your period? Or, if we're being honest, on days two through to seven? We're guessing it's a resounding no. It's completely normal to feel tired, lethargic, and emotional around this time.

Which scents should you try?
As oestrogen levels are lower, your sense of smell will be milder in week one. Use fragrance as a tool to put a spring back into your step and equip you with enough get-up-and-go to drag yourself from your duvet. One option is to choose perfumes you associate with happy times to evoke good memories — maybe you wore it on a holiday or during an especially fun summer. Another option is to choose fresh, uplifting scents that set you up for the day like a cold shower (with no shivering next to the tiles or deep breathing required).

"Uplifting and exhilarating fragrances that include notes of citrus fruits and herbs, as well as peppermint and geranium, can have a remarkably positive effect on energy levels," Ruth Mastenbroek says. "Fragrances that blend these notes work well here."

Brown adds: "When I'm feeling tired or need to lift my mood, I'll douse myself in effervescent bergamot and bright, juicy jasmine. It always lifts my spirits."

The Malin + Goetz Bergamot Eau de Parfum ($96) will perk you up on even the cloudiest, moodiest days. The sharpness of the citrus is strengthened with peppery notes and fiery ginger for a real burst of freshness.

Malin + Goetz Bergamot Eau de Parfum



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Menstrual Cycle Week 2: Florals, Vanilla, and Sandalwood

Image Source: Illustrations by Michelle Alfonso

What's going on?
Post-period, your body starts gearing up toward ovulation. Oestrogen and testosterone are on the rise.

How are you likely to feel?
Most people feel generally more energized post-period. Rising hormones can start to make you feel more attractive and more attracted to others, too.

Which scents should you try?
Your sense of smell will be heightened during this time as you approach ovulation. If you think about it in terms of biology, your body is helping you to look out for a partner. You're likely to be feeling more drawn to people, and they're likely to be more drawn to you (there is evidence that hints toward your natural scent changing with your cycle, too). Match the mood with a bold, confident fragrance (think outside the box with unusual notes), or choose romantic florals. Jasmine and rose can be too overpowering and heady for some around this time, in which case, you might want to try peony or tuberose instead.

"Soft florals can be very romantic, and delicate, light blossoms that are quiet and intimate can set the mood — especially when balanced with soft musks that are inherently sensual," Brown says. According to Ruth Mastenbroek, the ingredients to look out for are "sweet vanilla and floral notes of rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. They can have a gloriously relaxing and aphrodisiac effect on a person's psyche. Sandalwood is also renowned for its seductive properties. An accord of these notes in a fragrance can connect to your emotions in a special way."

If there was ever an aptly named scent for this time of the month, it's the Replica Maison Margiela On a Date Eau de Toilette ($85). The inspiration for the sensual scent is a date on a late summer's evening. Floral notes of rose, geranium, and patchouli are tempered by blackcurrant, bergamot, pink pepper, and musk.

You might also opt for the Phlur Missing Person Eau de Parfum ($96): the strangely addictive perfume with the attention-grabbing name that's taken TikTok by storm. It's very subtle, with sheer floral notes of jasmine and orange blossom, so it certainly won't overwhelm your nose.

Replica Maison Margiela On A Date Eau De Toilette



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Phlur Missing Person Eau De Parfum



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Menstrual Cycle Week 3: Caramel, Chocolate, and Coffee

Image Source: Illustrations by Michelle Alfonso

What's going on?
After ovulation, your hormone levels drop again.

How are you likely to feel?
This is the point at which you start to crave carby meals. "It's your body telling you what you need because those foods give you more energy, which will be necessary if you've conceived during ovulation," says Jo Kellet, expert aromatherapist for Tisserand Aromatherapy. "It's all a science!"

Which scents should you try?
Your sense of smell won't be as finely attuned as before and during ovulation, so instead, focus on satisfying those food cravings not just with snacks but scent, too. Gourmand perfumes with good-enough-to-eat notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee will all appeal to your nose at this time. If the idea of smelling sickly sweet is putting you off, don't worry. There's definitely a place for sugary scents (they're pretty in the daytime), but there are also plenty of gourmand fragrances with enough depth and complexity to make sweet notes smell richer and more grown-up.

The Floral Street Ylang Ylang Espresso Eau de Parfum ($89) is the kind of perfume that people stop you in the street to ask about. It's powerful, combining red rose, ylang ylang, and jasmine with freshly brewed coffee, cream, and pepper. Delicious. The ($160) is also a dreamy fragrance designed to conjure up the golden sand dunes of the Namib desert. Warm almond and vanilla notes make for a seductive scent.

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Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense



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Menstrual Cycle Week 4: Lavender, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus

Image Source: Illustrations by Michelle Alfonso

What's going on?
As your cycle comes to an end, progesterone and oestrogen drop when your body realizes it hasn't conceived. Your period is starting to loom.

How are you likely to feel?
Most people find the week before their period is worse than the main event when it comes to mood. You will feel more irritable at this point and therefore more sensitive to scent.

Which scents should you try?
Again, as ovulation has passed, your nose is no longer on high alert. However, fluctuating hormones can mean you're more easily annoyed, and scents that wouldn't normally bug you are now all-consuming. We know that fragrance is intrinsically linked to mood, so stock up on relaxing and calming scents to balance your mind. "You can't beat lavender for helping to reduce anxiety, along with chamomile and rose," Ruth Mastenbroek suggests. "Combined with woody notes and a touch of musk, a fragrance can help you to see the world in a better light." Maybe the way your partner chews their food isn't so infuriating after all.

If you want to slightly veer away from traditional pillow-spray-like scents, you could try a more herbal route. "I turn to herbaceous, woody, and green notes when stressed," Nic Mastenbroek says. "I think it's the fact that it helps to conjure the smells of nature that relaxes me. Think rosemary, thyme, basil, eucalyptus, cedarwood, and sandalwood. These notes combined have a spa-like feeling to them, which will help combat stress."

The Beauty Pie Une Balade en Forêt Eau de Parfum ($39) is the fragrance equivalent of a walk in the woods. This eau de parfum is comforting, relaxing, and zingy all at once. Base notes of cedarwood, woody amber, and moss are topped with cashmere, fir, and bergamot.

If you're finding all scents overwhelming, the Altra Skin Eau de Parfum ($202) is a good compromise. It's a blend of plant-based white musks and botanical base notes to enhance the natural scent of your skin. You can layer with other perfumes to enhance their scent when the idea of them feels more palatable.

Beauty Pie Une Balade en Forêt Eau de Parfum



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Altra Skin Eau de Parfum



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How Your Menstrual Cycle Changes the Way Perfume Smells? ›

"Studies have shown that around the time of ovulation, women display an increase in sensitivity to smell." For this reason, the follicular phase (which comes after your period and is when oestrogen starts to rise) through to ovulation itself can either be a really good or a really bad time to shop for perfume.

Do hormones affect the smell of perfume? ›

Researchers have found that 70% of perfumes tested contained phthalates, which are known hormone disruptors. What do hormone disruptors do? Once absorbed into your skin, they affect you by either mimicking or blocking your natural hormones.

Can your menstrual cycle affect your sense of smell? ›

A woman's mood and appetite are clearly tied to her menstrual cycle, but other, more subtle changes in thinking and behavior also occur. In particular, her sense of smell sharpens as fertility peaks in the latter half of her cycle.

Why does my perfume suddenly smell different on me? ›

The pH balance of your skin, how dry or oily your skin is, your hormone levels, and even your diet are all believed to affect how your body reacts when perfume is applied. Therefore, a perfume may smell fantastic on your friend but smell wrong when the same amount of the exact same perfume is applied to your own skin.

Do pheromones change during period? ›

The length of the menstrual cycle appeared to be affected by the pheromones. The study also showed that there are two pheromones that affect the menstrual length; one chemical for shortening and the other for lengthening the period of the cycle.

Why do I keep smelling womens perfume? ›

People may experience phantom smells for many reasons. They may be related to the nose, when the condition is known as peripheral phantosmia, or to the brain, which is called central phantosmia. Problems with the nose or nasal cavity are the most common causes of smell-related disorders such as phantosmia.

Why do I smell bad even with perfume? ›

Body odor is caused by bacteria breaking down the sweat from the apocrine glands in your armpits, groin, and pubic area. You may be more prone to body odor if you are overweight, eat certain foods, have certain health conditions, or are under stress. Genetics may also play a role.

Is my smell more sensitive during cycle? ›

Numerous studies show that in the first half of your cycle (your Week 1 and Week 2), as you get closer to ovulation, your sense of smell gets more powerful. Researchers believe the reason is spiking estrogen, which is a hormone that enhances many physical functions as it climbs.

Why is my smell heightened before my period? ›

For many women, smell becomes more sensitive during the latter half of their normal menstrual cycle. This is typically a sign of ovulation. The reason this happens is that the body is primed to be drawn to the male pheromone androstenone.

Do females give off pheromones when ovulating? ›

In other words, females may emit functional odours from their back during the ovulatory phase, and thereby stimulate male sexual desire by increasing testosterone secretion in males.

Why can others smell my perfume but I can t? ›

Olfactory adaptation

When we wear a fragrance regularly, the brain associates it with our own body odor. The fact that we no longer smell our perfume is part of a physiological process of olfaction. With our own scent, the stimulation of our olfactory sensors is permanent.

Which race has the strongest body odor? ›

Although there is some controversy on the subject of "racial" variation in body odor, it is determined that African blacks probably produce the greatest amount of apocrine sweat, which is the known substrate for axillary odor.

What do women's pheromones smell like? ›

For some, it smells sweet, like flowers or vanilla; to others it is foul, like sweat or urine. And then there are those who can't smell it at all.

Where do women's pheromones come out? ›

Where Do Women's Pheromones Come Out? Pheromones from a woman may be secreted in a number of different places, including her sweat, urine, saliva, and breast milk. For men, their human pheromone can be found in sweat, urine, and pectoral secretions.

What causes a woman scent to change? ›

Your vaginal scent can change in response to sex, menstruation, pregnancy, etc. However, a strong, unpleasant vaginal odor with a discharge may be a sign of a health problem like vaginitis. A course of antibiotics is often all that's needed to treat the condition and get rid of the smell.

Why do men like women's natural scent? ›

Some bodily smells are pleasant. And new research suggests they might appeal to more than our noses. Straight men find the smell of women's reproductive hormones attractive, scientists report today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The discovery suggests women's body odor is a cue for fertility.

Why can I smell myself through my pants? ›

Poor hygiene

Refraining from regular bathing can lead to dirt, sweat, and dead skin cell buildup that leads to strong smells through your clothes. You can reduce these effects by showering regularly and washing with mild soap and warm water.

What does anxiety smell like? ›

Phantom Smells, such as odd, strong, acrid, metallic, blood-like, sour, ammonia-like, acidy, and repugnant smells, to name a few, are common anxiety disorder symptoms. Many anxious people report having phantom and odd smells as an anxiety symptom.

What causes a person to smell sweet? ›

Hyperglycemia and Diabetes

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is common in people with undiagnosed diabetes or poorly controlled diabetes. High levels of sugar (glucose) in the urine can make it smell sweet or like fruity cereal. 1 There are also other signs of high blood sugar, including: Excessive thirst.

Does low estrogen affect sense of smell? ›

Since estrogen and progesterone protect the olfactory function, changes in their levels in particular physiological states in women (in pregnancy and posmenopause) exert an influence on the ability to feel and recognize smells.

Are pheromones stronger during period? ›

And what about during your period? Previous studies have shown that a woman's body odor is strongest during menstruation and that men who are particularly sensitive to smells can even detect this change in her scent.

What hormone causes smell sensitivity? ›

The new study shows ghrelin, made mainly in the stomach, binds to molecules in the brain's olfactory bulb, suggesting the hormone is directly involved in odor processing.

Can hormones change your smell? ›

Yes, changes in hormones can cause your body odor to smell. Hot flashes, night sweats and hormonal fluctuations experienced during menopause cause excessive sweating, which leads to changes in body odor. Some people believe their body odor changes when they're pregnant or menstruating.

Why am I prettier during ovulation? ›

Because estradiol was lower in the early follicular phase relative to the other two cycle phases, our findings are consistent with the possibility that within-women increases in estradiol produce subtle increases in face shape attractiveness.

Can a man affect a woman menstrual cycle? ›

Aside from pregnancy, there isn't a way sex can dramatically change or affect women's periods or menstrual cycles. The reason why this misconception exists is that many women experience spotting or bleeding after sex. It's important to keep in mind that not all vaginal bleeding is menstrual bleeding.

Can men sense when their wife is ovulating? ›

The study, published last month in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that olfactory cues signalling a woman's ovulation - her most fertile time - can prime men to have sex with them. Prior studies have shown that smells affect the hormones and subsequent mating habits of animals.

What does it mean when you can smell someone's perfume? ›

Perfume is the most intense form of memory. Jean Paul Guerlaine. It's likely someone is on your mind consciously or unconsciously and something triggered your memory and the strong emotions associated with that person and recreated their scent as if you can smell it in the moment.

How do you know if perfume smells good on you? ›

You should know within a few minutes after putting it on your pulse points whether you like it, or it it is just falling off your skin." Further, Knotek suggested that it is important to try something you're not sure you will like, and to that end, always try it on your skin, as what's in the bottle might not smell the ...

Why doesn't my perfume smell on me? ›

Why doesn't fragrance last on me? Unfortunately for some people, your body chemistry causes perfumes to evaporate more quickly from your skin. Perfumers would say that your skin throws off fragrance. Instead of lasting for some 3 to 4 hours, it disappears within an hour, sometimes shorter.

What ethnicity has the least body odor? ›

While only 2 percent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits, most East Asians and almost all Koreans lack this gene, Day told LiveScience.

What is the most attractive body smell? ›

Androstenol is produced by fresh male sweat and is most attractive to women, while androstenone is produced once the sweat is exposed to oxygen and is highly unpleasant to women.

Which gender has stronger body odor? ›

Men typically have more 'corynebacteria' – the smelly bacteria, in their armpits than women do. Why? Men have thicker skin in their armpits and sweat more fatty substances, which is the perfect recipe for corynebacteria to breed. So actually yes, boys do smell more.

Can a man smell a womans arousal? ›

University of Kent research suggests that men can distinguish between the scents of sexually aroused and non-aroused women. The detection of sexual arousal through smell may function as an additional channel in the communication of sexual interest and provide further verification of human sexual interest.

What are the smells of arousal? ›

Aphrodisiac scents are fragrances that arouse sexual instinct by increasing desire, pleasure or performance. Aphrodisiac scents include pumpkin, lavender, vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, and ginger.

What scent is most attractive to guys? ›

Having the same percentage of 19.4, woodsy and musk are without a doubt the top main accords that men find attractive when worn. The 3rd place goes to vanilla-scented fragrances with 17.3%, 4th place for sweet scents with 15.3%, and 5th place for floral ones with 14.3%.

What foods increase female pheromones? ›

Eat Pheromone-Increasing Foods

Celery, parsnips, and truffles contain androstenone and androstenol, which are naturally found in human pheromones.

What part of the body gives off the most pheromones? ›

Most proponents of the human pheromone concept assume that skin glands are the source of the active pheromonal agents. All three major skin glands—apocrine sweat glands, eccrine sweat glands, and sebaceous glands—can produce chemicals that become odorous.

What body parts have the most pheromones? ›

One of the most important sources of pheromones in humans is probably the axillary glands under the arms, due to the fact that the surface on which they spread is warm, which accelerates the release of compounds into the air.

Can hormones cause heightened sense of smell? ›

Hormones are usually to blame for a heightened sense of smell. A heightened sense of smell is a very common early pregnancy symptom, most likely due to elevated progesterone levels.

Does estrogen make you smell different? ›

Hormone imbalances and body odor often go together. Dips in estrogen can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, meaning you simply sweat more, which in turn can result in more odor.

What hormone makes you smell more? ›

Estrogen and progesterone levels fall relative to your testosterone, while cortisol tends to increase. Higher levels of both testosterone and cortisol have been linked to stronger body odor.

What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in female? ›

Sex hormone imbalance symptoms for people assigned female at birth
  • Acne on your face, chest and/or upper back.
  • Hair loss.
  • Heavy periods.
  • Hirsutism (excess body hair).
  • Hot flashes.
  • Infertility.
  • Irregular periods.
  • Loss of interest in sex.
Apr 4, 2022

How does estrogen affect smell? ›

Researchers theorize that when estrogen peaks during ovulation, your sense of smell becomes so sensitive that fragrances may be too overpowering and, therefore, unpleasant. One more scent change that occurs during your Week 2: You prefer the aroma of romantic partners with symmetrical features.

What are the symptoms of low estrogen? ›

What are the symptoms of low estrogen levels?
  • Dry skin.
  • Tender breasts.
  • Weak or brittle bones.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Moodiness and irritability.
  • Vaginal dryness or atrophy.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Irregular periods or no periods (amenorrhea).
Feb 8, 2022

Can high estrogen make you smell? ›

Yep, the way your body odor can definitely be affected by your fluctuating hormones around your period. Both your estrogen and progesterone are affected, making you not only more sensitive to your own smell, but also giving off varying levels of odor during your cycle.

Why does it smell when I open my legs? ›

Sweating. Sweating in the groin area can attract fungus and bacteria that can lead to a bad smell. Showering after exercise or athletic activity can help reduce the bad-smelling effects of smells related to sweating. Putting on clean, dry clothes after a sweat session can also help.

Does low estrogen make you smell? ›

The menopausal drop in estrogen also leaves our bodies with relatively higher levels of testosterone — produced by our ovaries in small amounts — than before. This can attract more bacteria to sweat, making it smell funkier.

What do female pheromones smell like? ›

For some, it smells sweet, like flowers or vanilla; to others it is foul, like sweat or urine. And then there are those who can't smell it at all.

Why do my armpits smell more on my period? ›

It can also change throughout your menstrual cycle. “A lot of the things that govern how the body works are often hormone driven,” says Dr. Chisholm. This can affect your body temperature, for example, and if you're hotter, you're likely to sweat more, causing more body odor.

Can guys really smell female hormones? ›

Some bodily smells are pleasant. And new research suggests they might appeal to more than our noses. Straight men find the smell of women's reproductive hormones attractive, scientists report today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The discovery suggests women's body odor is a cue for fertility.

Why do my armpits smell like onions even with deodorant? ›

Do not be alarmed. This is perfectly natural, even if it “stinks.” When the sweat from your glands meets the bacteria on your skin, it breaks down into products called thioalcohols. The thioalcohols give off a strong, often sulfurous scent that can also be comparable to onions or meat.


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