Couple smelling perfumes

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You Have a Wonderfully Precocious Nose

Neither gender can claim to have a better sense of smell, but women are more adept at learning to detect a scent, says Pamela Dalton, PhD, an olfactory researcher with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Dalton has shown that women of childbearing age have an impressive ability to pick up familiar odors at extremely low levels. After a month of exposure to a smell, Dalton says women will be able to sniff it out at 1/1,000th of the original concentration. She suspects this has to do with hormones, because pre-teens and post-menopausal women didn't show the same exquisite sensitivity. Dalton has also found that women are able to identify when a person—especially their partner—is stressed out just by smelling his shirt. (Perhaps this odor detection helps explain why we're so good at recognizing when our partner has had a bad day).