What is the Connection Between Pheromones and Attraction?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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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.


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Post 3

@burcinc-- That doesn't make sense because if pheromones were released only to attract others so that we can reproduce, homosexuality wouldn't be possible. Homosexuals are attracted to one another just as heterosexuals are even though reproduction is not possible among homosexuals.

I personally don't think that there is a link between pheromones and attraction. I recently heard on TV that men are attracted to women based on vision, so based on the appearance of women which makes sense. If pheromones were enough to attract men, for example, appearance wouldn't be important, but it is.

Plus, if our vomeronasal organ disappears after the fetal stage, maybe it's only necessary for the fetus. If pheromones were necessary for attraction and reproduction, it would still be there as we develop past that stage.

Post 2

I was reading an article for biology class and it was talking about pheromones, emotions, attraction and genetics.

Apparently we release pheromones when we are around some individuals of the opposite sex because we smell their pheromones and can tell if they are genetically suitable for us for reproduction. Our brain translates this into emotions which is also termed attraction.

So it seems like we are attracted to people because of their pheromones but only to reproduce healthy babies. Our body is looking for healthy and variant genes to pass on to our offspring.

What do you think about this?

Post 1

I understand that there is no definite scientific evidence as to whether pheromones lead to attraction or not. But as a married man, I do think that there is a close connection.

I've noticed that my libido- the instinctual sexual desire in humans- is more active during a certain time in the month which interestingly coincides my wife's ovulation period. I would not take this to mean anything but I've read the most female pheromones are produced during ovulation.

So I do think that pheromones cause and increase attraction to and from the opposite sex. It must have to do with the human instinct to reproduce.

Has anyone else experienced something similar that points to a connection between pheromones and attraction?

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