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Sex Scents: Existence And Irresistibility Of The Human Scent

Posted by: Dr. Maria Dublin, on: Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Have you ever wondered why the scent of your partner can drive you wild when you know they haven't applied any fragrance? The natural scent of someone can cause others to wrinkle their noses and prompt that someone to cover it up with deodorant or fragrance, but it's irresistible to you. What's the logic behind that?

The common notion is that the way someone looks and acts is how you base your attraction to them. However, the nose knows - there is something about the natural scent of a given person that appeals strongly to you which prompts the following question: do we, as humans, send sex scent signals?

Pheromones: that wild animal magnetism

Non-humans in the animal kingdom can't use the same tricks as humans do when attracting a mate. When was the last time you saw a chimpanzee buying another chimpanzee a drink at the bar, or a dog smooth talking another dog into going home with him? Animals tend to rely on nonverbal methods to seduce a potential mate, and scent is one of the strongest of these methods.

Scientists have long established the existence of pheromones in animals. The term was coined in 1959 by scientists Peter Karlson and Martin Lüscher, although it had been studied before. Pheromones can be referred to as airborne molecules which trigger a reaction from a member of the same species. It's incorrect to generalise all pheromones as attractive chemical cocktails for members of your kind. In many species, pheromones are also used as a way to mark territory and show aggression, thereby repelling a competitor in the same species or other animals that that animal is threatened by.

However, it's no doubt that sex pheromones are a necessary ingredient for animals to do the deed. By emitting pheromones, animals can signal to each other that they want to get it on. It depends on the species - whether it's the male, female or both - that will send these not-so-subtle sexy scent signals. For instance, a female moth will emit pheromones to send the message that she's fertile, and male boars will use his pheromones to get his pick of the female boars. These pheromones perpetuate the continuation of the species in a very intelligent way. For example, since inbreeding often causes genetic abnormalities in offspring, pheromones can actually shoo members of the same family away from each other.

The scented sexual attraction: can I rely solely on my nose to find a mate?

Oddly enough, humans are the one species in the animal kingdom in which scientists cannot actually find sex pheromones. However, that doesn't mean that they don't exist. Newborn babies are naturally drawn towards their mother's breast, and this is because as babies, their most acute sense is scent.

A 2005 study by Smithsonian was able to include that homosexual males were more attracted to the scent of other homosexual males, and heterosexual males were more attracted to the sweat of women. So, it's not difficult to assume that pheromones exist in humans - it's just that scientists have not been able to identify the exact chemical identity and compound which they have been able to do with animals.

The difficulty in being able to say for sure whether human pheromones scientifically exist is because we have the advantage of being able to rely on our senses and judgment when it comes to attraction. Maybe you like the way someone looks, or you find their personality appealing. We're less dependent on our sense of smell than other animals are.

However, that doesn't stop the curious and the kooky in their search for love - a new dating craze called Pheromone Parties sets out to prove what science has not been able to. One sleeps in a t-shirt for three straight nights, puts in a plastic bag and then brings it to the bar for members of the opposite sex to sniff. Whoever is attracted to your scent gets their picture taken with your bag, and you get to determine whether you want to make a connection. There aren't too many statistics on how successful this method of mate-searching is, but it's an interesting concept.

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