Human Pheromones Research Findings on Smell


In this article, we’re gonna turn our attention to pheromones in humans. There’s a variety of colognes on the market that allegedly claim they have some kind of pheromones in them. They range from the sleaziest of all things that you would find in magazines, that you ought not to be reading, to the more expensive ones. My understanding from somebody who does research in this area is that what is actually found in some of these products that can is actually male pig sweat. I guess we know that there would be a lot of pheromones there. However, the intriguing part is if men are attracted to that older, um, there might be something to worry about. And do women really want to be wearing that in the first place?

Well, the first evidence for humans, that’s the first solid evidence for human pheromones comes from a psychologist named Martha Mcclintock, who discovered a phenomenon of synchronous menstruation in women that live together for a certain period of time. What do you typically find? Like in college dormitories or certainly women’s prisons, they start to have synchronous menstrual cycles. She discovered this in 1971 and then in a later study in 1998, she actually discovered the actual chemical compound.

Early Human Pheromones Research

20 years ago her study showed that women who work or live together, like these sorority sisters often get their periods on the same day. Their menstrual cycles sync up when I concluded from that is that there was a possibility of human pheromones. Now, psychology Professor Martha McClintock of the University of Chicago who conducted that original study has done new and groundbreaking experiments just published in the science journal Nature. This study I think really is the first definitive study that shows that humans have pheromones. We still need to know whether we use them on a regular basis, but they are there.  Learn more about pheromone signals here and

How She Conducted the Study

She took underarm sweat from women at different points in their articulation cycles, and then she wiped it under the noses of female volunteers. The findings were dramatic. The sweat samples actually changed the length of the volunteers. ovulation cycles. In other words, In other words, the women’s bodies were communicating through unconscious chemical commands, the first evidence of human pheromones. Learn more at

Monell chemical senses center

So you’ll recall from an earlier segment when I introduced chemical communication and was talking about the system that the pheromones are typically contained in sweat and vaginal secretions and things like that. So, a lot of the research that’s been done here, you might find a bit disgusting. But it is science and a lot of it actually comes from a research lab in Philadelphia called the Monell chemical senses center.

They study all kinds of chemical senses, not just pheromones, but tastes and things like that. So this is the kind of work that they do there. They have men not wear any kind of deodorant for, um, a couple of weeks maybe, or maybe hopefully a little bit less than that. And then women will eventually sniff their armpits and try to rate the odors that there are sensing because obviously if you’re going to wear deodorant or cologne, then it’s going to mask naturally occurring pheromones. And that would render this study perfectly meaningless

Breath Pheromones

So with that in mind, we’re going to look at some of those experiments starting with breath pheromones in humans.  So they started out with men and women who donated their breath. But because they didn’t want to alter the naturally occurring pheromones that might be contained on the breath, the donors were told to not brush their teeth for two weeks prior to the study. They were allowed to brush their teeth with plain water, but they were told to not use any kind of toothpaste or mouthwash. So they’re donating their breath.

But then we have men and women, other men and women who are gonna rate these breath odors. So they set it up like this on the other side of the curtain so you can’t see it in this drawing are the actual breath donors and they’re exhaling into those tubes. And what you do see here are the breadth raters that are sniffing the breath coming from the other side. The idea was, well, can you tell us male versus female breath?

And the answer to that is yes, they could. They could identify gender. They found that male breath was less pleasant than female breath and more intense than female breath. So simply by the degree of pleasantness and intensity alone, they were able to identify the gender of the other individuals who they could not see based solely on breath pheromones.

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