Humans Emit Sex Signals
By Amy Malick, ABCNews.com
study says men and women receive scent signals from the opposite
While it is
well documented that females and males of many species can communicate
through chemical signals called pheromones, there has remained
some question as to whether humans can communicate this way as
imaging, Swedish researchers have found new evidence that men
and women can in fact send and receive subconscious odor signals.
And, the men and women, it seems, respond to the smells differently.
are airborne chemical messengers released from the body (through,
for example, sweat and urine) that have a physical or emotional
effect on another member of the same species.
smell or "sense" pheromones through a specialized half-moon shaped
structure located inside the nose called the vomeronasal organ.
Pheromone signals picked up by the organ are then relayed through
nerves to an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which
is well known for its ability to alter emotions, hormones, reproduction
and sexual behavior.
non-pheromone smells such as the scents of food or flowers are
recognized by a different part of the nose called the olfactory
Evidence of Human Pheromones
evidence for pheromone signaling between humans had been revealed
by Dr. Martha McKlintock, who discovered in 1998 that the menstrual
cycles of women living together tend to synchronize because of
the chemical messages released in their sweat.
study, which appears in this week's issue of the journal Neuron
, used PET (positron emission tomography) scanning techniques
to analyze the brains of 24 men and women while they smelled chemicals
almost identical to the naturally produced sex hormones estrogen
Berliner, an expert in the field of chemical signaling and CEO
of Pherin Pharmaceuticals, which produces synthetic pheromones,
says: "These findings corroborate that human pheromones do exist,
and that women can communicate chemically with men and vice versa.
This is a very important finding because it shows specific areas
of the brain that are activated by these chemicals."
led by Dr. Ivanka Savic of the Karolinska Institute, found that
the hormone-like smells "turn on" the brain's hypothalamus, which
is normally not activated by regular odors.
found the brains of men and women respond very differently to
are activated when they smell the chemical similar to testosterone
but not to the estrogen-like substance, whereas men's hypothalami
have the opposite response: They are turned on only by the estrogen-like
chemical and not the testosterone-like one. There is also sexual
disparity between the specific sub-regions of hypothalamus that
In other words,
the way we chemically perceive the opposite sex is very different
than the way we perceive members of the same sex. Researchers
believe this could explain why some of our behaviors are gender-specific.
Can Pheromones Make Us More Sexually
If these pheromones
turn on areas of the brain that control mood, hormones and sexual
behavior, one might then ask: "Can these chemicals make us more
is: Maybe. Researchers at the University of Chicago and University
of Utah have found that the same sex hormone-like chemicals used
in the Swedish study can in fact have a pheromone effect by producing
changes in mood, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.
However, there is currently no indication these chemicals can
actually increase sexual arousal or attraction.
companies have tried to capitalize on the potential sex-specific
effects of these chemicals by adding them to their fragrances.
But most of these companies add hormones from animals such as
pigs and deer, so they probably don't work. Pheromones are generally
species-specific, so a perfume enhanced with pig pheromones is
really only useful for other pigs.
of one company that adds human hormones to its fragrances claim
the additives will "put you and your partner at ease, boost your
confidence, and contribute to a feeling of well being." The general
idea is that pheromone perfume can replace our naturally produced
pheromones that have been washed off through bathing and hidden
by layers of clothing.
If these claims
are true, pheromones may make us more attractive to potential
mates by bringing out our best qualities and allowing us to appear
more self-assured and relaxed. That "feeling of well being" may
also make us a lot more pleasant to be around.
Pheromones as Therapeutics
of these sex hormone-like chemicals to activate areas of the brain
that control hormones indicates they may have more broad-ranging
therapeutic value as well.
Pherin Pharmaceuticals is currently developing numerous synthetic
pheromones that it hopes will be effective in decreasing symptoms
of anxiety disorders, premenstrual syndrome in women, and prostate
enlargement in men.
personally tested many of these compounds. "I love it!" he enthuses.
"And it takes only seconds to work. It is very hard to explain
with words, but it makes you feel relaxed. All of a sudden your
internal life changes for the better, although the outside world
has not changed at all."
Reference Source 89