Effect of Pheromones on Humans

Sometimes it becomes difficult to believe that only some chemical can bring people’s sex life back on track or give us more pleasure.

Does pheromone have any influence on a person and his/her sex life?

Most people know that pheromones are chemicals secreted by some mammals or insects to send a message to their own species. It might be good or bad or any kind of message and for every kind of message they have different chemicals or different kind of smell.

Pheromones are like hormones, but they are produced outside the body. Hormones are produced inside one’s body to signal the brain, like if you feel hate for somebody, hormones are produced and they send the brain a signal that you feel a negative emotion for the person. Hormones also signal your brain about mundane things like hunger, pain etc.

But pheromones are ectohormones, are meant for others of the same species to get your message. They are secreted by the body in form of liquid via urine or sweat.

A number of things are communicated through the pheromones like sexual arousal, bonding, marking of territory, showing food trails, to intimidate, raise the alarm and also in insects it is seen they show where it is safe to lay their eggs. Therefore, pheromones not only create an attraction but they can also send a myriad of subtle signals.

Vomeronasal or Jacob’s organ picks up the pheromones of mammals. Vomeronasal is connected to the hypothalamus of the brain which in turn is part of olfactory system and gives the sense of smell. In reptiles VNO can be found on the roof of the mouth and in mammals it can be found at the nose on the base of the septum.

It has been proved via research that pheromones work in mammals like rabbits, prairie vole, boars and mice, but there is a huge controversy that adult humans do have VNO or not. It is believed that VNO is present at the time when the child is in fetus form but disappears before birth. So, the olfactory is the part that picks up pheromones if at all humans picks it up.


Anatomy of the nasal cavity. By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body Plate 51, Public Domain.

The question remains if pheromones affect the humans?

Dr. Martha McKlintock discovered McKlintock Effect, which states that women’s menstruation sync up when they stay in proximity. A group of men in 2011 were studied in the interest of finding out whether pheromones have any affect on them. The study concluded that when they sniffed sweat of ovulating women their testosterone level rose considerably, thus proving that there is pheromone like chemicals available in human bodies too.

On a Swedish study, 4.16-androstadien-3-one also called as AND is a progesterone derivative, was supplied to two groups of women, one group is straight or hetero and the other lesbian. There was no effect of AND on lesbians whereas the hetero women acted differently. AND is present far more in male sweat than female sweat.

In 2016, a study was conducted and published in the journal ‘Respirology’. The study says that erectile tissue of the female nose swelled when confronted with AND.

Androstadienone (andro) is predicted to be another pheromone of human which is contained in the male sweat also. It is believed to increase the activity of the areas of the brain which is responsible for social cognition, boosts cortisol levels –stress hormone, and also can alter the mood of a person. A study was conducted and found that the andro makes a man more cooperative to another man.

The question comes, where do they secrete from? Well, both man and woman had underarm glands, glands in the genital region, and nipples, these glands are odor producing glands. What do we do, we put deodorants and never let those odors take a shape rather they get lost with the covering of deodorants. Maybe human could have had a better sex lives if they never wore the deodorants. This fact is actually sited by many scientists.  

Our body fluids have pheromones, but we always hide them behind the mask we wear or deodorant we wear, so that it goes beyond the ability of our nose to detect or our conscious mind recognizes them.

Noam Sobel, a neurobiologist in Israel collected sad tears from some women making them watch a sad movie. After that the tears were held under the nose of some men to smell them, and strangely the testosterone level of those men dropped. Therefore, from the tears the men’s body didn’t pick up anything sexual. The study concluded that if the tears could turn off the sex appeal from men’s body, then there must be something that would also turn it on.

In another study conducted in 2005, had straight men and gay smell sweats from women and they were not informed about the source of the sweat. The study concluded that the straight men liked the sweats of women while the gay men liked the sweats of another man.

In another study, men’s t-shirts soaked in their sweats were given to woman so that they would rate the attractiveness of men. The women with DNA far different from men consistently found them more attractive.

Now you might think that these are the best examples, so why wouldn’t science say in one voice that humans too produce pheromones? No, the case still remains weak. The first reason is there is no clue to put into evidence that these are happening due to that. Chemicals with no direct evidence are not taken as a proof. The second issue is that no one can isolate the compound responsible for the physiological change so far. May be one can say that these reactions or responses are not as specific as we can see in mammals or insects.

When an infant is hungry, he or she will find his mom’s breasts and reach for it may be due to the odor print, a type of odor that is unique to every person. By the help of genes, diet, health and environment these can be altered. Therefore, so many influences make the chemical signals difficult to be identified. Also, it might also be possible that in human species, the process is more complex than the other animals.

Check this top 5 synthetic pheromones for men and women.