How Does Pheromones Work

The Science Behind Pheromones


Pheromones are substances with which we are somewhat familiar. You may think of them as being a sort of natural perfume, but chances are, you don’t actually know what they mean. In This is a basic overview of what pheromones are and how they play a part in our lives.

OriginsĀ of Pheromones

The word “pheromone” comes from the Greek words “pherein” and “hormon” which mean to transfer and to stimulate. In 1959, Adolph Butenandt and peter Karlson coined this word to describe the chemical signals between living organisms that could be used to stimulate a response or behavior in other members. In short, pheromones are a chemical substance that is created and secreted by one organism and then transmitted to other organisms in the same species. Their general role is to ignite a sexual urge among organisms including animals and people.

There are Several Types of Pheromones

When considering animals, phermones are generally used for communication. They can be broken up into two main categories: territory markers and attraction or aggression starters. Pheromones that are labeled as epideictic, territorial, and trail belong in the first category. Epideictic are generally common in insect species. The female insect who lays her eggs, puts epideictic hormones in the area sot hat other insects will not also lay in the same place. The territorial type of pheromone is generally seen in insects and animals. Dogs are a common example when using urine to mark their territory. Finally, trail pheromones are seen in social insects like ants. They use these chemical signals to mark their trail so that they know where they’re going as well as have the ability to guide other ants on the same path.

The second category of pheromones is aggregation, alarm, primer, and sex pheromones. The primer ones are fairly uncommon while aggregation are ones that attract both males and females. Latter pheromones are fascinating since they only attract specific members of the community. Finally, alarm pheromones are released by species that want to trigger aggression and will release these pheromones when attacked. But other than aggression, sex pheromones are the most powerful and are used to attract mates, generally the male. They can be used to attract a mate even 10 kilometers away.

Human Applications

After learning that pheromones are natural tools for communication, scientists began to study whether pheromones would also work in human beings. The human vomeronasal organ, VNO, is located in the nasal cavity and works to sense these chemical substances. When sensing them in the atmosphere, it sends signals to the brain and changes a person’s response.

Going a step further, human beings actually do use a sense of smell when selecting a mate. Swedish experts have used brain imaging devices to show that both homosexual males and heterosexual females react in a similar way when sexually aroused by male odors. Another study found that using male odor was an effective method to synchronize menstrual cycles of women. With the use of pheromones, a woman’s ovulation may either be lengthened or shortened. This phenomenon is called the McClintock effect.

Media Attention

Studying these effects and publishing them in notable journals led to media attention on both news shows and papers such as Dateline NBC, CNN NY Times, The Washington Post, and Time magazine. Also, in response to these findings, many companies began producing pheromone products designed to help people find partners. These products are designed to attract males and females as a type of silent communication. Men will often use them by mixing into their aftershave, and avoid many of the other steps commonly used to attract a woman.

Limited Use

However, pheromone products are not going to do all the work for a man. They should also consider the importance of other lifestyle factors such as hygiene and appearance. Women may be attracted, but if the guy is ungroomed and dressed poorly, the pheromones will have limited use. The end result is going to depend mostly on the guy himself.

While pheromones have been called many things throughout the year, “chemistry” one of the common labels, they do play an important role in attraction. While attraction, relationships and commitment are multi-faceted, they may be affected by the natural substances that our bodies make in order to find a mate so don’t be too surprised by this aspect of attraction.







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