MIND/BODY CONNECTION

Grab Her by the Nose

Laura Moore

Pheromones have sexual-attraction possibilities

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Q: I lift, so I’ve got a good body, and I’ve been told I have a great personality, too, but the ladies don’t seem to be flocking to me. I’ve been reading about some new products that are made from pheromones that guarantee women will be drawn to a guy like moths to a flame. Do they really work?

A: Believe it or not, there’s validity to the claims made by some manufacturers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with pheromones, here’s a crash course:

Pheromones are chemical substances produced by an animal and serve especially as a stimulus to others of the same species for one or more behavioral responses—especially in sexual attraction. The chemical substance is a by-product of hormones excreted through the skin and acted upon by bacteria. That produces the animal’s own chemical scent, which isn’t detected by the normal sense of smell.

How do pheromones work?

Some years ago researchers discovered the presence of a small organ in the nose of many animals (known as the VNO), which detects airborne pheromones. They bind with receptors in the VNO and send messages to the brain that affect behavioral responses. Pheromones don’t elicit conditioned responses but, rather, spontaneous ones.

For example, if a man has sex with a particular woman regularly over a long period of time and on every occasion she wears a particular perfume, gradually that scent will acquire the power of stimulating (attracting) the man all on its own. It’s then very likely that that man will perceive any woman wearing that perfume as attractive. That’s a pheromonelike reaction, but it’s not a pheromone reaction. It is a conditioned reaction.

Pheromones don’t depend on associations with prior experience to do their work; they use the VNO. Expert opinion is divided on the VNO presence and functioning in humans, but the theory is becoming much more accepted among scientists these days. Furthermore, I have yet to see any reputable study showing that pheromones have no effect on humans—so there.

A number of human pheromones have been isolated and studied. Pheromone researcher Bruce Boyd has identified three human pheromones that have been found effective for attracting members of the opposite sex: androstenol, androstenone and copulins.

Androstenol and androstenone are pheromones created on the skin when chemicals in human sweat interact with common bacteria, and they’ve both been observed to influence human attraction. Building muscle also ensures that you have more testosterone—and more testosterone means you excrete more hormones to be converted into pheromones. That means you’ll naturally attract more women. A number of studies seem to indicate that women in public places (movie theatres, restaurants and so forth) choose to sit in seats that have been sprayed with the pheromone androstenone more often than they choose seats that haven’t been sprayed.

Copulins are strictly female substances found in vaginal secretions that have been shown to elevate male testosterone levels (directly linked to increased sex drive) and to positively affect perceptions of female attractiveness in males. Copulins are at their highest concentration when a woman is ovulating.

Do pheromones really work when it comes to attracting the opposite sex? ABC News conducted an informal test of synthetic pheromones in a singles bar, using two sets of identical twins, one male and one female. One member of each pair was given an unscented pheromone spray, while the other was given witch hazel containing no pheromones. The subjects were placed in different sections of a popular bar in New York City and told not to make the first move. The men received about equal attention from the opposite sex, but the sister who was wearing the pheromones was approached by 30 men; her no-pheromones sister had only 11 “hits.” ABC newsman Bill Ritter was quoted as saying: “We cannot deny what we saw happen in the bar.”

The Medical Tribune reports, “Topical application of synthesized male pheromones increases the sexual attractiveness of men to their partners. The odorless, clear alcohol-based liquid contains a chemical copy of ‘the natural substance given off by healthy virile men in their 20s that makes them so attractive to women,’ said researcher Winifred Cutler, Ph.D., president of the Athena Institute for Women’s Wellness, in Haverford, Pennsylvania.


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