The Smell of Pumpkin Pie May Be Good for Your Sex Life

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

There are certain foods that have always been known as aphrodisiacs, even though researchers still aren't sure whether a food, or the suggestion of sex from the food which increases desire. But besides food, smells can also help put you in the mood.

Thanksgiving and Sex

Stuffing yourself until you can't move doesn't always lend itself to a hot and steamy night.
But one part of your Thanksgiving meal, or rather dessert, may help your love life. The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago recently discovered that the scent of pumpkin pie was found to both increase penile blood flow in men and sexual desire in women. Some believe that the scents of vanilla and cinnamon, which may be ingredients in your pumpkin pie also help sexual desire.

Other scents that increased penile blood flow were licorice, doughnuts and lavender. One of the most effective was a combination of pumpkin pie and lavender scents. But if the traditional Thanksgiving fare isn't for you, other scents that increase penile blood flow include cheese pizza and buttered popcorn.

Scents and Sexual Desire

According to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, the author of Scentsational Sex, he became interested in this topic when he noticed that almost 20 percent of patients who lost their sense of smell also suffered from sexual dysfunction.
Dr. Hirsch recruited 31 men between the ages of 18 and 64 and 30 women between the ages of 18 and 40 and measured sexual reaction to a variety of smells. According to his study, men and women preferred a number of scent combinations.

For men the top scents were:

  • Combination of lavender and pumpkin pie

  • Cinnamon buns, in combination with licorice and doughnuts

  • Combination of pumpkin pie and doughnuts

For women the top scents were:

  • Combination of licorice and cucumber

  • Combination of lavender and pumpkin pie

While, in men, Dr. Hirsch found that all scents that were tested increased penile blood flow but there were differences based on age and their present sex lives. For example, older men liked the scent of vanilla more than younger men and those who indicated the most satisfaction with their current sex life preferred the scent of strawberry. Those who reported have sex frequently reacted to the scent of lavender, Oriental spice and cola.

In women, one surprising result was that the scent of men's cologne actually reduced vaginal blood flow slightly. Other scents that were "turn offs" were cherry and charcoal barbeque smoke. Both men and women reacted negatively with strong odors.

The Link Between Scent and Sex

But what makes one scent better than another for increasing sexual desire? Despite the results, researchers still aren't sure why scents increase our desire. It may be that scents have a stimulating effect, which will naturally cause an increase in blood flow. Another theory is that we respond to scents we enjoy and that trigger memories of past sexual enjoyment or even of happy memories from our childhood, making us more open to love.


"Pumpkin Pie," 2012, Molly Edmonds, Discovery Science

"The Smell Report," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Social Issues Research Centre

"Top 'Sexy' Scents: Pumpkin Pie & Lavender for Men, Good & Plenty for Women," 2012, Michelle Ebbin, Basic Knead

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.