In the animal kingdom, pheromones are chemical compounds that trigger sexual attraction, like natural perfume. Humans release them, too; and professional scent-makers have been trying to synthetically replicate them for decades. But if you could bottle actual pheromones for use in people, then you’ve got my attention!
Well, no surprise perfume makers are trying it. Perfumes on the market today claim their products can boost your sex appeal. But that’s not necessarily because of pheromones — associating another person with a nice smell is really just a clever bait-and-switch for the natural scent-based attraction process.
We should take a closer look at what pheromones are and how they’re used before jumping to any conclusions.
Pheromones are smells that animals emit to communicate with other aspects of the natural world. Their unique scents can mark territory, attract a mate, or serve as an identifier.
These pheromones are produced in scent glands scattered around the body, including mouth, paws, or anus. Here’s where it gets dicey — the animals may distribute the scent through urinating or rubbing their bodies on the trees, bushes or the ground to mark territory. And you know how dogs seem to get great pleasure out of sniffing another dog’s rear end? It’s because of the pheromones.
To get max benefit from these smells you have to a wild side. Animals pick up pheromones through receptors in their nostrils called the Vomeronasal organ. Humans have this too, though we don’t know if it makes any ‘sense’ of subtle smells like it does in animals. Perfume makers are banking on it.
In the same way animals use their special scent to lure a mate, pheromone perfume is designed to stoke your sexuality. The ingredients are typically synthetic versions of steroids found in male sweat glands and acids found in the vaginal wall. Other ingredients are thought to be artificial versions of musk from cats, beavers, pigs, and musk deer.
Okay now. Science tells us our bodies produce scents in our underarms, genitals, and elsewhere. As to whether these function in the same way as pheromones, nobody really nose…er, knows.
That’s the big question. We know that people have the capacity to differentiate smells and may find perfumes pleasing. But what smells really turn on the opposite sex? If human pheromone emission works similarly to other animals, then these specialized smells should definitely trigger a response from others.
A small 2008 study looked at how the hormone androstadienone affects women’s feelings of attraction. Using a speed dating trial, some women had the hormone applied to their upper lips in order to smell it regularly; while others did not.
The results showed that the women with the hormone rated the men they met as more attractive, while the untreated women were not impressed. This was interesting because it hinted at the pheromone making the wearer feel friskier, perhaps.
Another angle to consider is the fact that pheromones produced in sweat glands will likely smell very different than traditional colognes or perfumes. Can you imagine buying a bottle of “body odor” perfume, hoping to trigger a sexual response in an unsuspecting mate?
Human mating is much more complex than other animals; but hey, if a certain perfume gets you and them “in the mood” easier, then it makes sense to give it a try and find out whether a mate picks up what you’re putting out.