The Science of Pheromones

Published April 8th, 2014 | By Dan Carson

Pheromones are chemical odor signals produced by animals which stimulate other individuals of the same species for one or more behavioral responses. When released into the air, pheromones send out subconscious messages to the opposite sex and trigger strong feelings of desire and/or attraction. This chemical odor may influence how an animal develops, mates, bonds and nurtures their offspring.

How are pheremones detected?  Many animals have a special organ called Vomeronasal organ (VNO), which is separate from the normal smelling process. The Vomeronasal organ is located in the nasal passages close to the opening or nostril. It is in the form of a sac or pit and may seem gil-like. When the VNO senses pheromone a chemical receptor transmits chemical signals directly to the most primitive centers of the brain, stimulating instinctive reactions. This effect is instantaneous and reflexive.

There is still speculation among scientists as to whether humans use pheromone to communicate the same instinctive urges as animals do. The VNO organ physically exists in 80% of humans. Scientists believe that this chemical odor is ineffective in humans but a number of studies done by scientists have proven that pheromones do have an effect on human behavioral and hormonal processes. When many women are living together they often synchronize their menstrual cycles because they secrete an odorless chemical in underarm sweat. These chemical odors may also accelerate puberty. Pheromone helps us distinguish between lovers and family members from strangers and influences how mothers and infants bond. It has been found to influence human attraction and determine to whom and how often we have sex.

Scientists have studied and isolated a number of human pheromone, three of which are believed to arouse members of the opposite sex: androstenol, androstenone an copulins. Androstenol and androstenone are created on the skin of both sexes when chemicals in human sweat interact with common bacteria. Both influence human attraction and desire. Androstenol has the power to alter peoples impression of a man’s sexual attractiveness and intelligence.  Androstenone appears to be the essence of male dominance and aggression. Women are attracted to men who secrete large quantities of this chemical while other men tend to avoid them. Copulin is a female substance found in human vaginal secretions and has been proven to elevate male testosterone levels (linked to increased sexual drive). It is shown to positively affect perception of female attractiveness in males.