Committee Chair

Ozbek, Irene Nichols, 1947-

Committee Member

Warren, Amye; Santiago, Manuel F.; Elwell, J. Scott; Walker, Randy


Dept. of Psychology


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The relationship of olfactory functioning and hormones is complex, and, for the most part, heterogenous. The present study aims to clarify and or define aspects of this relationship by examining how olfactory thresholds fluctuate in relation to changing hormone levels in two populations: menstruating and pregnant women. A longitudinal study was implemented to assess women at two different times. A total of 72 non-pregnant and 7 pregnant women participated in the first assessment, with a total of 62 non-pregnant and all 7 pregnant women returning for the second assessment. During each examination participants had blood drawn and were administered a threshold test. The Wheeler-University of Tennessee at Chattanooga odor threshold test (WUTC) allowed for the measurement of odorant sensitivity of 4 distinct odorants. Hormone levels were analyzed using a method of gradient high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Multiple analyses yielded a conclusion that the changes in estrogen levels influence olfactory ability to an extent that as estrogen levels increase throughout the menstrual cycle or peak during the first trimester of pregnancy, olfactory ability is significantly heightened (p<.05). This research has provided evidence supporting the idea that hormone levels do influence olfactory ability fluctuation during the menstrual cycle and in portions of pregnancy.


I would like to acknowledge the multiple organizations and individuals for which this research could not have been completed. Firstly, I would like to thank Dr. Nicky Ozbek for your encouragement and guidance throughout this project, Dr. Amye Warren for preparing me for the “Rule of 3”, and Dr. Manuel Santiago for your generosity and persistent dedication. To Dr. Amanda Clark, I would like to give my thanks for your unrelenting availability, honest and advice every time I walked through your door. I would also like to thank Dr. Stefanie Whitson for all of the time you gave me and the sacrifice of supplies you were willing to lend in my time of need. I would also like to thank the olfactory team, past and present, for the support each has given me during this research. The time volunteered and the stress that accompanied all that you did are more appreciated than I can express. I would never have been able to complete this project without the help you gave freely. One individual that has surpassed any expectation and has lent support, personal and academic, time, and fervent commitment is Ashley Galloway. I cannot thank you enough for the insight you have provided and the capacity to which your help has allowed my project to be possible. To the Carrie Snyder, Dr. Liz Culler, and the staff at Blood Assurance Chattanooga, thank you for working with me every step of the way. You have been a tremendous help in making this research possible. Also, to Galen OB/GYN and Dr. Patricia McClelland, thank you for your willingness to open your doors to a graduate student with a research idea and allowing me the benefit of your clinic’s guidance in participant recruitment. In addition, this project would not have been possible without the funding granted through the Provost Student Research Award at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Finally I would like to thank my family and my friends for their unending support. Mother and Dad this research is dedicated to you for a reason – thank you. Joe and Matt, I could not have picked two better people to be with me from the beginning. The consistent steadiness you provided when I spiraled into thesis chaos was more than I could have asked for – thank you. Dom and Natalie, you both have pushed me to be a better student, worse procrastinator, and more thorough researcher. For all of your inspiration, advice, and friendship, I thank you. Sarah and Sarah, you both have given me laughs and memories I will never forget. Your support, commiseration and random chats always kept me going and are an integral part of why this research was able to reach the magnitude it did. To all six of you I want to thank you most of all for your times of commiseration. Defining with words what each of you has given me in the past two years is insufficient in expressing how much you have given and how much I have gained from each of your friendships… thank you.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Smell -- Threshold; Odors -- Psychological aspects


Olfaction; Hormones; Pregnancy; Menstrual cycle



Document Type

Masters theses




xii, 65 leaves





Date Available


Included in

Psychology Commons