Have you ever noticed that your sense of smell changes during certain times of the month? Or maybe you've not even realised it's your time of the month that's affecting it, but one week you love a fragrance, and then next you can't stand the smell of it? You're not alone. Because it turns out that actually, your hormones can affect your sense of smell. Yes, really.
Research shows that different hormones impact both how we smell, and what we're smelling. According to a study carried out by the Institute of Psychology, the ups and downs of oestrogen and progesterone throughout our menstrual cycle can make us more sensitized to scent.
Expectant mothers often find their sense of smell can change during pregnancy (as do menopausal women), so it makes sense that our sense of smell can be altered by hormone fluctuations throughout the month, too.
Week One (Menstruation)
Starting from the first day of your period (to day seven in your cycle), your oestrogen levels are at their lowest, rising day by day. Your sense of smell starts off fairly low and rises through the week— meaning you're fairly indifferent to scent throughout this week.
Week Two (Follicular Phase)
Oestrogen peaks during the second week of your cycle, as does your sense of smell. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll despise all smells—in fact, it could be a week in which your heightened senses mean you love certain fragrances. But, because you'll be picking up on fragrance notes that you might usually miss, it could mean that you dislike fragrances that you usually tend to like.
Week Three (Follicular Phase)
During the third week of your cycle, oestrogen levels slowly start to drop off whilst progesterone and testosterone rise. Interestingly, some researchers believe that we tend to crave fatty foods around this time of the month as our sense of smell is heightened to specifically pick up calorie-dense food (in order to prepare our bodies for pregnancy). Humans are clever.
Week Four (Luteal Phase)
During the last week of your cycle, your oestrogen levels plummet, which is why you can often get easily annoyed around this time. This irritability is often spiked by heightened senses in general (loud noises, unpleasant tastes, etc.), therefore if you smell a strong scent during this time, you might be more likely to feel overpowered by it and dislike it.
Mad, right? If you find that your sense of smell is affected by your time of the month, then you might want to keep scrolling. This Japanese study found that lavender might actually help to ease PMS symptoms. So if you're feeling irritable, try surrounding yourself with one of these.