Changes in olfactory perception during the menstrual cycle

Experientia. 1991 Jul 15;47(7):712-5. doi: 10.1007/BF01958823.


The aim of the study was to find correlations between changes in olfactory sensitivity and the menstrual cycle. 14 young, healthy volunteers participated in the experiments. Subjects menstruated regularly and did not use oral contraceptives. Three odorants were investigated: phenylethyl alcohol, androstenone, and nicotine. Dilution series of the odorants were prepared, and presented to the subjects in order to determine the detection thresholds (triple forced choice). Additionally, the subjects' hedonic estimates of the odorants were measured, and mood states as well as hormonal levels of LH and estrogen were determined. Before the actual experiments started, subjects participated in three training sessions. One experiment was subdivided into 5 phases (two pre- and two postovulatory phases; one ovulatory phase). Only with regard to androstenone did trend analyses reveal a significant quadratic relationship between hedonic estimates and phases of the menstrual cycle, peaking at ovulation. Olfactory sensitivity was not significantly influenced by the menstrual cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Menstruation / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Estrogens
  • Luteinizing Hormone