I remember a quote once from Elizabeth Taylor where she said getting old was awful, because she even smelled old. Well, she wasn’t wrong. Apparently as we age, everything ages, even our scent. But read on, as I am going to give you some good news further down, so don’t hold your nose.
To digress for one moment, I do recall the old Seinfeld routine where he and Elaine were in a car he had loaned out and the man who borrowed the car had awful body odor. Sitting in the car they got back from the stinky man, Elaine complained, “OMG, do you smell that?”
Seinfeld dead-panned, “What? You think I’m hard of smelling?”
It turns out that none of us are hard of smelling. The nose does rule, as the olfactory bulb, the nerves up through the nose in to the brain, have no off/on switch. We learned that in neuroanatomy 101. This is confirmed by findings from the Monell Center showing that the human nose, at least younger noses, can smell and differentiate the difference between younger and older scents.
The researchers say this smell detection comes down to dating. Maybe match.com should have a scratch and sniff section. It seems that smell is part of the human ability to figure out if someone is still young enough to make a potentially good mate (well, I guess with the high divorce rate most of us have clogged sinuses).
Apparently, there is an age-related smell that is distinct, and it “warns” someone to not mate with them, they are just too old. There is even a word for this age-related personal odor in Japan called kareishū. It seems to me the Japanese have words for lots of things I find fascinating.
This study was pretty wild. Body odors were collected from three age groups, (12-16 people in each): Young (20-30 years old), Middle-age (45-55), and Old-age (75-95). Each donor slept for five nights in unscented t-shirts containing underarm pads, which were then cut into quadrants and placed in glass jars. These pads were sniffed by 41 young (20-30 years old) evaluators, and asked to identify which pads/odors, came from the older donors.
The younger noses were able to statistically (beyond chance) discriminate the three donor age categories based on odor cues. By the way, older body odors were rated as less intense and less unpleasant than odors from the other two age groups.
So, the old smell was not a bad smell, it was actually more “smell-less.” (2012 PLoS ON)E
So what is a cougar to do? (I hate, hate, hate that word!) There is a suggestion in some literature, and I have had feedback from patients (and personally), that replacement with biologically-identical hormones not only does away with symptoms of andropause and menopause, and protects multiple tissues, but also appears to generate and maintain younger, more socially appealing scents. This scent makes sense!
Balancing hormones through replacement has been shown to boost mood. Perhaps one unrecognized way it does this is by its subliminal affect on our scent; beneath the surface softly affecting our scents effects on those around us.
When my mom died and my brother and I spent time reminiscing, and we surprisingly learned that both of us felt our nostrils had dictated our lives more than not. Well, it appears none of us are “hard of smelling.” And here is yet another possible benefit of considering to get your hormones checked, rebalanced, and your scent tweaked for the better, especially if you are single and planning on re-entry into the on line dating kingdom.