Difference between men and women’s sense of smell?

Sweetvanis

Basenotes Member
Nov 1, 2021
It is probably just individual but does anyone think there’s a difference between men and women’s sense of smell? I’m asking because my fiancé can smell things that I can’t. I know mine was clearly heightened during pregnancy. 🤷🏻‍♀️What do you guys think? He even seemed surprised that everyone doesn’t smell what he can.
 

JBHoren

I *am* smiling
Basenotes Plus
Apr 25, 2007
Dunno... I think the difference is in how we react to smells. It's not for nothing that the fabled "sniff test" is generally a "guy thing," and that we're pretty forgiving of the results.
 

naylor

Basenotes Institution
Oct 24, 2011
It is probably just individual but does anyone think there’s a difference between men and women’s sense of smell? I’m asking because my fiancé can smell things that I can’t. I know mine was clearly heightened during pregnancy. 🤷🏻‍♀️What do you guys think? He even seemed surprised that everyone doesn’t smell what he can.
There may certainly be differences between gender ... but there's likely just as much difference simply from person to person, in general. I find that many people in this community are surprised when they learn that others smell things differently than they do...
 

imm0rtelle

Basenotes Junkie
Apr 2, 2021
It is probably just individual but does anyone think there’s a difference between men and women’s sense of smell? I’m asking because my fiancé can smell things that I can’t. I know mine was clearly heightened during pregnancy. 🤷🏻‍♀️What do you guys think? He even seemed surprised that everyone doesn’t smell what he can.
I do think generally there is a difference between how men and women smell and interpret smells. However, there is most likely more similarities than differences. I think we'll get more research in the coming years thanks to covid and all the damage it has caused to people's olfactory system. It might lead to breakthroughs in understanding how the whole system works.
l don't think gender has anything to do with it. l can definitely smell things that my (male) partner can't. Perhaps some people are just more attuned to smells, or have honed their olfactory sense more. Others have sinus problems or other issues that blunt their sense of smell.
I think it is like a bell curve, like most things. Men are generally taller than women. However, there are men shorter than women, and men and women with the same height. I suspect there is something similar at play with how men and women both sense and interpret smells.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
Studies have consistently shown that women have a more acute sense of smell than men, which may be explained by a larger/more developed olfactory bulb. The differences aren’t necessarily great, and they naturally vary individually, but the difference nevertheless exists.
 

StylinLA

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 9, 2009
Studies have consistently shown that women have a more acute sense of smell than men, which may be explained by a larger/more developed olfactory bulb. The differences aren’t necessarily great, and they naturally vary individually, but the difference nevertheless exists.
I'd be in the camp that very generally women have a better sense of smell. But there are always individual exceptions as well.

The most sensitive nose in my world is a buddy of mine.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
I'd be in the camp that very generally women have a better sense of smell. But there are always individual exceptions as well.

The most sensitive nose in my world is a buddy of mine.
Sure: General statements are just that. Men are generally taller than women, but I know women who are taller than I am.
 

donna255

Basenotes Institution
Jul 16, 2004
On another forum some years back, there was a discussion about this. Seems back in the day the fragrance powers that be decided women could not be noses because they have periods get pregnant which changes their sense of smell. Men on the other hand their sense of smell stayed the same. Oh, so last century. And proved wrong as there are women noses.
 

LadyDragonFire

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 21, 2011
I don't believe the myth that men have a "better" sense of smell than women have!
I fully believe that hormones do affect your sense of smell though..so I think that men and women probably often smell things differently.

You know..I think it's really hard to say for certain though, because all we have to go on is how people describe certain scents! And unfortunately..that's not that scientific or objective!

I know that pregnancy hormones made me smell things differently. Lots of things..perfumes, food, etc...smelled completely different to my nose! So..the different hormonal balance definitely threw things off!
There are some types of cheese, for example, that I cannot eat..and their smell and taste nauseates me!
But during pregnancy they weren't the same at all, and I actually liked them and ate them!
But now..they just gross me out again! I've never re-gained my appreciation for them!
And..how certain perfumes smelled was just totally different! Actually..that disturbed me so much that I just stopped having anything to do with perfume! But..I didn't feel that anything smelled stronger..or that anything smells weaker now..it was all just different.

I strongly think that genetics and your DNA play a huge role in this too! I mean..I don't know for sure but I think that some things may just smell different to different people too..and that it might also just be affected by specific genes you inherited.
 

ascentofdreams

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
May 18, 2021
Generalizations are always filled with land mines. So much individual variation in this, even allowing for hormonal fluctuations impacting sense of smell in women. There's something to be said for educating your nose, as well, and what that does to your ability to discern notes.
 

LadyDragonFire

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 21, 2011
I am going to update this thread by admitting that it is also sort of possible to "trick" people into thinking they smell certain things, or that there can also sort of be a psychosomatic aspect to sense of smell, and how we "think" things smell!
Or, in other words, how we think some things smell can also partly depend on how they are "described" to us too!
And..I'm going to admit that TBH..how "easy" or "hard" it is to trick someone into thinking something smells a certain way, can obviously have to do with how sensitive they are to certain scents, or "how good your sense of smell is!"

So..I am going to share a little bit of anecdotal evidence with you!
So..I live with my parents, right? And..every week they make a written list of what they're going to cook for dinner, right?
And..they stick the dinner list up on the fridge (with a fridge magnet.)
So..on Friday, a couple of days ago..the dinner list said we were having fish and chips for supper, right?
So..I fully expected fish and chips, right?

So..I'm sitting up in my room watching "maleficent", and then I get called down for dinner.
So...I go downstairs..go to the table..and then I see there is this plate of chili sitting there!
And..I was all like.."oh! I thought we were having fish and chips?"
And I was honestly really surprised. And..my dad was all like, "oh! Your brother said he wanted chili!"
And..chili is delicious too so that's okay!

But..it occurred to me...my dad was cooking chili all afternoon and I didn't even notice!
Chili doesn't smell the same as fish and chips!
But..it occurred to me..I guess I fully trusted so much that we were having fish and chips that I still just assumed that's what we were having!
Also..maybe I was just so engrossed in watching my movies in my room that I just was not paying that much attention or overly thinking about it that much too! There might be more than one thing going on here!
That said..chili has some pretty strong scents! That being said...my dad also makes fairly mild chili! He doesn't go really heavy on things like spices or garlic or herbs..it's in the chili...but not a ton of it!

But still...I'm admitting that maybe sometimes it is possible for someone to "trick" my nose into certain things too! XD
 

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