The Pheromones Attraction: How Chemicals Create Desire
Pheromones are chemicals that an individual secretes from its body (through body fluids) to communicate with another member of its species, triggering a specific, innate behavioral change or endocrine effect. While many plants and animals possess pheromones, no pheromones have been discovered in humans. Therefore, there is no current scientific evidence supporting the use of pheromone-based products for increasing human desire. Rather than relying on these products, it may be more useful to focus on improving self-esteem and self-confidence.
What Are Pheromones?
Pheromones are a type of hormone (i.e. a biological chemical messenger). While most hormones only affect the individual who produces them, pheromones are ectohormones, meaning they are secreted outside the body and thus affect the behavior of others. For many animals, pheromones play a role in attracting mates, mate choice, interacting with offspring, and establishing territory.
Types Of Pheromones
Though there is no definitive research supporting the existence of human pheromones, there are four primary types of pheromones that have been identified in other animals. These include releaser, primer, signaler, and modulator pheromones:
Releaser pheromones typically trigger immediate, specific, behavioral effects. For example, a receptive sow becomes ready to mate when the androstenone pheromone is discharged from a boar, and female rabbits produce mammary pheromones that aid pups in latching and nursing.
Primer pheromones take longer than releaser pheromones to cause a direct behavioral response. They can affect females’ menstrual cycle, puberty, and pregnancy. For example, a queen bees’ primer pheromones can stop the reproductive ability of other females within the colony.
Signaler pheromones typically perform as social signals, providing information about the individual to other members of the species. They can signal things like an individual’s social rank, recent diet, overall health, and mate viability.
This type of pheromone can affect mood and emotions. Some research suggests that modulator pheromones may exist in people. For example, one study from 2003 found that underarm secretions from men could induce relaxation and reduced tension in female participants. However, the context of studies on human pheromones may make their result unreliable.
Potential Human Pheromones
Some studies support the claim that four steroid molecules act as human sex pheromones: androstenone, androstanol, androstadienone, and estratetaenol. While it is possible that humans have pheromones, current literature has not provided strong evidence of them due to small sample sizes, publication bias, overestimating effects, and inability to reproduce results.
In boars, androstenone pheromones play a role in mating receptivity. In humans, some studies support that androstenone may improve mood and sexual satisfaction when applied to the upper lip.
Synthetic androstenone is a common ingredient in perfume marketed to attract partners. However, research demonstrates that many “pheromone perfumes” do not include any pheromones, can come with health associated risks, and do not aid in mate attraction.
Androstenol is an odorous steroid that may play a role in anxiety reduction and mood improvement. In humans, it can be found in urine, saliva, sweat, and blood. Some studies find that it activates portions of the hypothalamus, rather than just olfactory regions of the brain, indicating that it may be involved in human reproduction.
Androstadienone And Estratetraenol
Androstadienone is a testosterone-derived chemical compound that is found in male sweat. While some studies hypothesize that androstadienone is a signaler pheromone that communicates aggression, readiness for competition, and dominance, these studies typically lack academic rigor.
Androstadienone and estratetraenol were first proposed as ‘putative human pheromones’ in 1991 by Erox—a company with competing interests—and have since been used in fragrances marketed to attract the opposite sex and/or to increase libido.
While many studies focus on identifying sex hormones as human pheromone candidates, other studies focus on lactation secretions. For example, one study found that when areola gland secretions are placed under the nose of a baby, the baby will engage in nipple-searching and sucking behaviors.
Can You Increase Human Pheromones To Boost Attraction?
Though it is plausible that human pheromones do exist, current research has not demonstrated a specific change in human behavior tied to a suspected pheromone. Still, many perfume and supplement brands promote that their products contain pheromones that are scientifically proven to increase sexual attraction and/or libido.
Some websites promote that individuals can increase their pheromone levels by increasing perspiration, reducing the use of antiperspirants, getting enough sleep, and weightlifting. However, none of these strategies are shown to increase pheromone levels.
Therapy Can Help You Gain Confidence
Pheromone-based products often claim to increase sexual attractiveness through a pheromone response, but these claims are based on dubious research. Unlike human pheromones research, there are studies supporting that high self-confidence and self-esteem can improve romantic relationship quality (and overall mental health). By working with a licensed therapist, many people can improve their self-esteem and confidence.
A 2017 review article supports that online therapy can effectively address the symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, a 2022 pilot study found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) significantly improved self-esteem, self-compassion, and quality of life in adolescents.
Online therapy sessions from platforms like ReGain are typically most affordable than in-person therapy, and they may be preferable to clients who value the privacy and comfort of attending therapy sessions from home.
Pheromones are silent chemical messengers that are secreted from one individual to influence the behavior of another. While pheromones are common in many plants and animals, there is no concrete evidence that they exist in humans. Despite a lack of evidence, some companies market products containing animal and/or synthetic pheromones as effective sexual attractants for people.
Though there is no consensus on the existence of human pheromones, you can improve your self-esteem and self-confidence, which may contribute to desirability and more successful romantic relationships. Research demonstrates that online therapy can effectively improve self-esteem and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety for many people.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you smell someone's pheromones?
You cannot necessarily smell human pheromones, or you don't realize that's what you're smelling. Still, our bodies naturally produce pheromones, and these putative human pheromones emit a subtle smell that can potentially trigger attraction. The scientific community has yet to come to a concrete conclusion regarding the effects of human pheromones.
What's a pheromone attractant?
A pheromone attractant is a hormone secreted through our body as a subtle odor that can potentially entice a mate. These putative human pheromones are very primal and meant to trigger sexual desire as a means to reproduce. Men's and women's bodies both produce pheromones. Some research says that these pheromones play a role in our biological need to reproduce and create babies. Pheromone research claims that these attractant pheromones are based on our immune systems. It is thought that based on these putative pheromones, we will prefer those pheromones of someone with a dissimilar DNA makeup as us, as that would provide the best case for creating healthy offspring.
What is the love pheromone?
The love pheromone is considered to be the putative human pheromone, Androstenone. This type of pheromone is thought to be the most powerful in sexual attraction between people.
What scents are females attracted to?
Females tend to be attracted to smells like vanilla, peppermint, sandalwood, musk, leather, and wood. These scents are often popular choices for cologne for this reason.
Can guys smell when a girl is turned on?
According to recent research on pheromone detection, a man can smell when a woman is turned on. In this study, women watched two different videos, one being erotic. The male subjects found the putative pheromone secreted by women to be a lot more attractive after they had watched the erotic film. This shows that the pheromones secreted during a women's sexual arousal can create a sexual response in the male recipient. It is also thought that men can predict when women are ovulating based on their smell. They become more attracted to women during ovulation by the pheromone secreted during that time. Biologically, this makes sense, as it is the prime time to create offspring.
What is a woman's natural scent called?
A woman's natural scent is thought to be in her pheromones. Some studies have shown people can tell gender based on the scent of human pheromones. A man will have a sexual attraction to a woman's natural scent based on her biological makeup being different from theirs. This is necessary to create healthy offspring. Studies have shown that men will also be more attracted to a woman's natural scent during ovulation when she is most fertile. It has also been found that a chemical in women's urine called estratetraenol can uplift a man's mood.
Do humans get attracted by pheromones?
What do women's pheromones smell like?
What female pheromones attract males?
Can I smell my own pheromones?
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