Can A Man's Scent Impact How Much A Woman Drinks?

By Beth Leipholtz 01/05/18

After discovering that a woman's scent in the fertile phase of menstruation made men drink more, researchers opted to see if the reverse were true. 

a woman with her nose to a man's cheek

A new study has found that a man’s scent can contribute to the amount of alcohol a woman drinks, according to the Independent

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida conducted the study, in which they observed how the scent given off by a man affected the amount of alcohol a woman drank. 

Previously, a study was done that explored how a female’s scent during the fertile phase of a menstrual cycle affected the amount of alcohol a man drank. Researchers found that the amount was increased during this time period, and were curious about the reverse. 

For this study, researchers observed 103 women between age 21 and 31. Study participants were told they were participating in a consumer survey for men’s cologne and drinks.  

During the study, each woman was given a fragrance strip sprayed with either manufactured androstenone—which is a pheromone found in boar’s saliva—or plain water. Each participant was then given two 12-ounce glasses of non-alcoholic beer. 

The study found that the women who had been given the strips with androstenone were likely to drink more than those who had strips sprayed with water. Specifically, the women exposed to androstenone drank about one-tenth more of a beer over a 10-minute period. 

“Social and sexual expectancies taken subsequent to drinking (to avoid unwanted manipulation influences) were correlated with drinking in the primed group but not in the neutral group, supporting the idea that information-processing pathways related to alcohol use had been engaged in the primed group,” the study stated.

Though it is unknown how the results of this study play out in real-life circumstances, researchers think the knowledge could help when it comes to treating alcohol use disorders. 

An impact statement from the study states, “We inferred that detection of male sexual scents, even in the absence of awareness, may instigate drinking because of the longstanding cultural association between alcohol use and sex. These findings may have important implications for understanding and treating alcohol use disorders.”

While this study suggests that a man’s scent can cause a woman to drink more, other research indicates that women in search of flings rather than long-term relationships tend to choose men who smoke and drink. However, this isn’t necessarily true, not because women find the acts of smoking and drinking themselves attractive, but because men who do so are more likely to take part in risky behaviors, such as short-term flings or sexual encounters. 

“With this study, I wished to shed some light on the question why young men willingly engage in smoking and drinking behavior despite being aware of the harmful consequences,” Researcher Eveline Vincke of Ghent University in Belgium told The Fix in 2016.

“Women perceive young men who smoke as interested in casual sexual encounters and short-term relationships, more so than non-smokers. Similarly, men who drink frequently give the impression of being more unrestricted in their sexuality, whereas occasional drinkers and non-drinkers appear open to committed, long-term relationships.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.