Effects of fragrance on female sexual arousal and mood across the menstrual cycle


Address reprint requests to: Dr. Cynthia A. Graham, Psychology Department, Indiana University, 1101 E. 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-7007, USA. E-mail: cygraham@indiana.edu.


The effects of fragrance on sexual response in women were investigated using subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal and of mood. Responses were obtained from female participants in three different fragrance conditions (female fragrance, male fragrance, and a “blank” or neutral substance), as they viewed erotic and sexually neutral films, and fantasized about sexual situations. Each woman was tested twice: during the midfollicular and periovulatory phases of her menstrual cycle. Menstrual cycle phase effects were apparent; self-report data indicated greater sexual arousal and more positive mood during the periovulatory than during the follicular phase. Results demonstrated a positive effect of the male fragrance on genital arousal during erotic fantasy, but this finding was apparent only during the follicular phase testing session. This effect did not appear to be mediated by any effects of fragrance on mood.