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Do Pheromone Based Fragrances Help Attract Mates?

You've seen them in commercials, on the back cover of health magazines, and sometimes on the stalls in public restrooms. Advertisements for pheromone enhanced colognes along with quotes like: "I didn't believe it, but it really works -- I had to literally peel the men off me!" Or "The women were all over me last night!"

Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

This old wives tale is not that old, nor is it primarily common among wives ... but among the dating set, especially those of the male persuasion, it is still quite prevalent. But is there any truth to it? Do pheromone based fragrances really help make you irresistible to the opposite sex?


"Often called "secret seducers," pheromones cannot be seen, heard, smelled or touched. They secretly affect our biological processes, which, in turn, stimulate our sexual drives and reproductive behaviors."

What are Pheromones?

Pheromones are small organic molecules that act as a form of chemical communication between two animals of the same species, often secreted in sweat or bodily fluids. These chemicals are most popularly known for their ability to attract, or sexually stimulate, a member of the same species, often of the opposite sex.

It has always been known that other animals secrete pheromones as natural sexual attractants, however, the existence of such chemicals in humans has long been speculated and recently established.

According to the Washington Post, "There was ample evidence that human pheromones exist; babies show a clear preference for pieces of clothing that have been worn by their own mothers, for example, and research suggests that men and women choose their mates in part by sniffing out partners with compatible immune systems."

So How Do Pheromones Work?

Still looking for the man or woman of your dreams? Just take a good long sniff!

Just like other animals, there is a special organ in the nose, the vomeronasal organ (VNO), which detects and reacts with pheromones. Surprisingly though, recent research shows that pheromones are able to work even without interacting with the VNO. In fact, it has been shown that very tiny quantities too diluted to have any odor still have an effect on the brain.

In fact, unsuspecting pheromones in your body scent are most likely playing a large and very clever role in mate attraction.


"A University of Chicago study determined that women have strong inherited genetic preferences in the choice of mates -- which they demonstrate through the power of the sniff. Women chose partners who were genetically neither terribly similar to them nor terribly dissimilar, but who fell in between -- they could actually "smell" genetic difference."

According to an article in "Psychology Today," how our body odors are perceived as pleasant and sexy to another person is a highly selective process. We usually smell best to a person whose genetically based immunity to disease differs from our own.

So when you choose a partner, you're choosing a mate whose scents are different from your own genetically, but not completely different. Thank your dad now, because the mate you choose will depend on the genetic inheritance he has passed down!

Research to Prove It?

Dr. Winnifred Cutler, President and Founder of Athena Institute, conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled study with colleagues from San Francisco and Brooklyn, which was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal, ARCHIVES OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOR (Feb.1998).

The data from this study showed that men who received male pheromones topically tended to have more sexual contact with women than the men who applied placebo. Similarly, women who received female pheromones, applied topically 3 times a week, tended to have more sexual contact with men than those women who applied the placebo.

Although the results of this study suggest that human pheromones could improve the sexual attractiveness of men and women, many researchers express the need for more supporting evidence. It's going to require more than one small study to confirm the human pheromone-sexual attraction connection.


Final Two Scents

Why is it that the only "validated" proof about pheromone fragrances is found on websites other than those selling pheromone enhanced products? Is that proof in itself that fragrance companies are using hype and your sexual desire to improve their sales?

You're probably better off dressing to impress, walking with confidence, and smiling a lot.

A Secret Love Potion?

For years, the perfume industry has attempted to create a scent that puts the magic of pheromones to use: imagine a perfume that would make you irresistible to the opposite sex. It's a Secret Love Potion -- and so far, attempts to create the ultimate Pheromone Parfum have flopped badly.

Some fragrance companies take their products and market their perfumes as containing human pheromones, banking on them as potions that'll "drive women or men wild with desire." Too bad their appealing claim is not backed up by adequate evidence to support human sexual response to pheromones.

Remember that when you choose a partner, you're choosing a mate whose scents are genetically somewhat different from your own. This explains why a pheromone perfume wouldn't work unless it was individually tailored: with such a wide variation in preferences, no one perfume could be all things to everyone.

Recommended Reading

Are perfumes really necessary, with or without pheromones? Read the below article for more information on the dangers of perfumes to your health.

What Dangers Can Perfumes & Other Fragrances Pose to Your Health?

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