Olfaction and its Relationship to the Sexual Function in Men and Women

Olfaction is a neglected sense. Although there are thousands of patients who have experienced smell dysfunction of some sort, the medical profession as a whole and the public at large currently have little interest or knowledge about this important sensory modality and there is little concern with people who develop abnormalities of smell. On the other hand, perfumers and flavorists who depend upon dealing with olfaction as a lifetime work, do not have the knowledge of how this system works or the manner by which this sense changes under the influence of normal and abnormal physiological conditions.

It is almost gratuitous to say that smell is one of the most important aspects of life. However, Aristotle noted many years ago “That which is given to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it." Indeed, this most common and fundamental sense is considered such an integral aspect of our sensory function that its presence is not questioned until it is lost. Then, and only then, does the importance of this neglected sense become uppermost in the experience of the losers. For some, the inability to obtain pleasure from a nightly martini is a devastating experience; to others the personal shutting of the door on the smell of freshly cut grass, the odor of a freshly bathed child, the fragrance of flowers at springtime limits personal freedom of expression and produces personal frustrations of an inexpressible type. But there are worries too. If a woman cannot smell, how can she cook?

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