The Truth Behind Pheromones in Humans

Posted on March 6th, 2020 by

Written by Britta Lundgren, Allie Miller, Maddie Schut, and Charles Walia

Have you ever been interested in wearing the same shirt for a whole week, not washing it and placing it in a bag to be sold online to someone who’s lonely, longing for a sexual connection, and wants to pretend they’re not by smelling you? Or maybe you are interested in purchasing a perfume or cologne that contains pheromones that sexually arouse your significant other? If your answer is neither yes or no, but rather “why would anyone want that?” or “what are pheromones?”, you’ve come to the right place. Your unwashed shirt would most likely be ridden with pheromones, chemicals produced by an individual that leads to a change in the sexual or social behavior of another individual of the same species; a volatile hormone that acts as a behavior-altering agent (Shiel Jr., 2018). In other words, it’s been proven that pheromones have the ability to induce feelings of sexual arousal in animals, however we don’t have evidence to prove the same for sexually aroused feelings in humans. So, maybe that lonely person from Craigslist who is yearning for a sexual connection just has a thing for smelling human odors, and isn’t necessarily craving the sex pheromones coming from your dirty shirt. 

Research states that pheromones influence animals’ social behavior to lead them to find a suitable sexual mate (Feltman, 2015; Grammer, Fink & Neave, 2005). Pheromones are chemical messengers that are emitted from the body and into the environment where they then activate physiological and sexual responses in animals of the same species (Grammer et al., 2005). Pheromonal messages aren’t limited to only physiological and sexual arousal, as they can range from activating a competitive behavioral response, such as male lemurs’ stink fights, to a collaborative response, like ants laying down chemical trails to food sources (Hadhazy, 2012). However, this research is not applicable to humans yet. George Preti of Monell Chemical Sense Center (2020) states, “that doesn’t mean a human sex pheromone doesn’t exist,” Preti is quick to add. “It just means we haven’t found one yet.” Research on human sex pheromones has been hindered by the insignificant effects found in recent studies and the simultaneous interactions between our other senses in response to odors (Evert, 2012). 

Because we don’t know of any human sex pheromones that exist, it is doubtful that any products containing supposed pheromones, such as the perfumes and colognes made by the company Alpha Dream or the shirt that is ridden with sex pheromones, will work for consumers because they cannot be scientifically proven at this point (Wysocki, 2009). Therefore, any companies that advertise sex pheromones in their product could be using false advertising. 

Studies have not proven that human sex pheromones will make you more sexually attractive to a potential mate, despite what many companies will tell you. Some companies try to prey on the typical lonely person who is looking for a sexual connection by falsely advertising a product that contains these said sex pheromones. Maybe one day researchers will find a chemical that makes you more sexually attractive, but for now we’ll have to wait. 

References 

Everts, S. (2012, March 1). The Truth About Pheromones. Retrieved from  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-truth-about-pheromones-100363955/ 

Feltman, R. (2015, February 9). Why you shouldn’t buy products with ‘pheromones’ in them to get a Valentine. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/02/09/dont-buy-pro ducts-with-pheromones-in-them-to-get-a-valentine/ 

Grammar, K., Fink, B., & Neave, N. (2005). Human pheromones and sexual attraction. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 118(2), 135–142. doi: doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2004.08.010 

Hadhazy, A. (2012, February 13). Do Pheromones Play a Role in Our Sex Lives? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pheromones-sex-lives/ 

Jr., W. C. S. (2018, December 11). Definition of Pheromone. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12896

Preti, G. (2020). George Preti. Retrieved from https://www.monell.org/faculty/people/preti 

Riley, A. (2016, May 9). Pheromones are probably not why people find you attractive.  Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160509-the-tantalising-truth-about-sex-pheromones 

Schraud, C. (2020). Alpha Dream Technology. Retrieved from https://alpha-dream.com/ 

Wysocki, C.J., & Preti, G. (2009). Human Pheromones: What’s Purported, What’s Supported. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK200980/ 

 

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