Pheromones are chemicals released by many different animals and some plants to encourage certain behavioral responses in other animals or plants of the same species. One of the most widely discussed pheromones is the sex pheromone, which is usually emitted by female animals to attract male mates by indicating readiness to breed. For many years, researchers have explored the potential connection between sex pheromones and attraction in humans. As of 2010, however, scientific understanding of both human pheromone production and detection remains incomplete. Therefore, despite the wide availability of “mate magnet” perfumes and sprays which allegedly contain sex pheromones, no definite connection between human pheromones and attraction yet exists.
Many researchers have proposed that sweat, particularly from the armpits, acts as the vehicle in which human sex pheromones are carried. Certain studies have explored the possibility that the scent of one’s sweat can produce sex-related responses in others. For instance, one study has suggested that pheromones contained in the sweat of women who live or work in close proximity to one another can cause their menstrual cycles to synchronize. Another study found that a sample of women who wore perfume laced with synthetic pheromones received increased sexual attention from male partners. In the main, however, the validity and methodological soundness of studies which claim to demonstrate a link between human sex pheromones and attraction has been questioned.
According to some researchers, it is not the presence of human sex pheromones which is in doubt, but rather humans’ ability to detect these pheromones. Most mammals possess a structure known as the vomeronasal organ (VMO) within their noses which functions as a pheromone detector. While a VMO can be found in humans during the fetal stage, the organ seems to disappear as development progresses. Some researchers argue that the absence of a VMO prevents humans from detecting pheromones, thus making a link between sex pheromones and attraction impossible. Others have suggested that the VMO in humans has not disappeared, but has rather evolved into another structure which has not yet been pinpointed.
Without definite scientific evidence, it remains impossible to say whether there is a connection between pheromones and attraction in humans. Nevertheless, a plethora of fragrance companies manufacture perfumes and sprays which are alleged to contain sex pheromones that can attract mates. As there is generally no sound scientific basis for these claims, buyers are advised to regard such products with skepticism.