Control Pill Use Affects Smell
Most women take birth control
pills to prevent pregnancy, but oral contraceptive use may have
unwanted sexual side effects.
A study appearing today in Human Reproduction found women
taking a birth control pill were less sensitive to scents, which
may negatively affect their sex drives.
Researchers tested the ability of 60 women not taking the pill
to detect six smells at various points in their menstrual cycles.
Sense of smell was shown to be most sensitive around ovulation,
a time when women are most fertile.
The subjects were then put on birth control pills and their
sense of smell was re-tested. After three months of pill use,
the increased sensitivity to smell usually seen during ovulation
Sex and Smell
"After many years of studies on sexuality dysfunction, we found
that many factors influence a woman's desire, one of which could
be the sense of smell," says Salvatore Caruso, lead author of
the study and professor in the department of gynecological science
at the Ospedale S. Bambino in Italy.
While the sense of smell and libido have not been specifically
linked, there is evidence to support such a relationship.
"There are women who are born without a sense of smell who have
no activity in their ovaries," says Dr. David Brinton, a reproductive
endocrinologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.
"There is a physiological proximity issue."
In other words, areas of the brain that control both the sense
of smell and the ovaries are physically located close to one another.
Something that affects one area could conceivable affect the other.
Implications of Pill Use
Other research has uncovered a relationship between the sense
of smell and pill use. Research by Steve Gangestad, a University
of New Mexico psychology professor, showed that women taking oral
contraceptives had no significant preference for the smell of
males with symmetrical features vs. asymmetrical features.
Symmetry in features is a measure of attractiveness and genetic
fitness. Women not taking the pill preferred the smell of males
with symmetrical features during their most fertile time.
"What we found is that the pill may actually upset normal preferences
for choosing mates," says Gangestad.
Pill use can also decrease sex drive in some women. However,
experts point out that sex drive and choosing a mate are very
complex issues that involve many physical and psychological variables.
"A lot of women on birth control pills have a decrease in inhibition
which may have an overriding effect," says Brinton.
Reference Source 104