[Olfactory perception in women with physiologically altered hormonal status (during pregnancy and menopause]

Med Pregl. 2002 Sep-Oct;55(9-10):380-3. doi: 10.2298/mpns0210380s.
[Article in Croatian]


Introduction: Olfaction is considered to be the ability to: perceive, conduct and recognize scents and odors. With its numerous connections to the limbic system and reticular formation, the olfactory system affects regulation of numerous vegetative functions, visceral functions and sexual behavior. 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. It has its role in creating emotions and adjustment of visceral and vegetative response to particular emotional states. Also, it represents the connection between higher cortical functions and the endocrine system.

Material and methods: Our investigation was performed at the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic in Novi Sad. The research included 80 healthy women classified into 4 groups; 20 women aged between 20 and 30; 20 women in the first trimester of pregnancy aged between 20 and 30; 20 premenopausal women aged between 41 and 50; and 20 women at least 3 years in postmenopause, aged between 41 and 50. For our research we used an olfactometer and the Fortunato-Niccolini method.

Results and discussion: In pregnancy the thresholds of perception (TP) and identification (TI) of examined substances were slightly lower in comparison to nonpregnant women of the same ages, but without any statistical significance (p > 0.05). In climacteric-postmenopausal women there was a significant decrease of olfactory ability in comparison to nonmenopausal women of the same ages (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: All changes of the olfactory function in pregnancy are explained by mental changes of pregnant women as well as their hormonal status. Significant decrease of olfactory ability in postemnopause is explained by decline in sexual hormone levels.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Smell*