Scent of a Woman
Study: Men Attracted to Women's Scent When She's Fertile
By Melanie Axelrod
April 5 — Chanel says every woman has her own "Allure." But a new study suggests the female allure isn't bottled, rather, it comes naturally.Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, used already worn T-shirts to determine that men may be able to smell when women are at their most fertile, regardless of the perfumes and cosmetics they may wear.
Devendra Singh, a psychology professor at the University of Texas in Austin, asked women to wear one T-shirt at night during the most fertile phase of their menstrual cycle (13-15 days after their previous period), then wear another T-shirt during the infertile phase of their cycle (days 21 to 22).
Aside from acquiring two previously unworn cotton T-shirts, the women were also given unscented clothing detergent, soap, and shampoo to use for the duration of the study. They were asked not to wear perfume, and avoid products and foods that would emit a strong odor. They were also asked to refrain from sexual activity and to not share a bed with anyone, not even a pet, during the study.
After use, Singh presented the T-shirts to a group of men and asked them to rate the smell of the worn garments. Out of the 21 pairs of T-shirts, the men could detect a more "pleasant" or "sexy" T-shirt in 15 pairs of them. That breaks down to 15 of the 42 shirts were considered pleasing, vs. the rest that were considered not pleasing, or not detectable.
The results remained detectable even after putting the T-shirts away for a week before they were re-tested. [4April 2001]
"Advertising tells us to use perfumes, and wash yourself like crazy to attract males," Singh said. "But it may not be the case."
Smelling Good, Looking Good
Singh concedes, there are a lot of factors that contribute to the attractiveness of a woman to a man. Visual factors perhaps play the greatest part, considering humans are what Singh considers to be "visual animals." But scent, he suggests, may be equally alluring.
The main scent the men in the study may have zeroed in on were likely pheromones says Singh, but might also have included other factors.
Pheromones are hormones released from both men and women that are believed to be odorless and consciously undetectable to the human nose. They are believed to promote sexual feelings and urges.
Most smells are detected by a part of the nose that sends signals to the Cerebral Cortex, which is the part of the brain associated with higher order thinking and conscious behaviors.
But pheromones are believed to be detected by a group of cells in the nose called the Vomeronasal organ, which then, in turn sends signals to areas of the brain associated with more primitive behaviors and emotions and controls hormone release through the endocrine system.
Singh believes there is a link between the most fertile time of a woman's cycle, and her confidence and social level.
"I think when women are ovulating, the underlying motivation for them is to smell good, so that men will like them," he said. "When women are ovulating, they dress better, and the feel better and more attractive. They are more intrigued by erotica, and more sociable."
The findings, Singh believes, may lead the way to understanding & treating infertility. In essence, his study says humans may be clouding some women's ability to get pregnant by either taking oral contraceptives, or by masking the natural scents that women emit at different point of her cycle.
Researchers: Smells Like the Truth
Lynne D. Houck, an associate professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. believes the study does bear some truth, but says the T-shirts don't tell the whole story.
"The waters are a bit muddied in the terms of human behavior," said Houck. "There's so much else that goes into human mating that's also physical and psychological when dealing with humans.
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/tshirtstudy010404.html; 5 April;
Janet Smith, Ph.D.
The Magic of Sexual Attraction
Pheromones can make women seem as attractive as models like Iman.
Romance has long been described as a process of bewitchment, but scientists have found that there may be more truth to this than meets the eye.
They say female chemical messengers known as pheromones may help dupe men into thinking plain women are more attractive and beautiful women are less attractive than they actually are.
Pheromones – the colorless, odorless chemical signals given off by the body – are thought to affect behaviour in both animals and humans at a sub-conscious level.
Research by biologists Astrid Juette and Professor Karl Grammer from the University of Vienna has found that men's perception of a woman's attractiveness is altered by the chemical signals she sends out.
They exposed 66 men to synthetic vaginal pheromones without their knowledge.
They then showed them a series of photographs of women and played tapes of their voices.
The pheromones, which can be perceived by the nose even though they are odorless, were then replaced by water and the men's reactions were studied.
In each case, the men were asked to grade the women's attractiveness.
They were more likely to think the women were attractive when they were exposed to the pheromones and the testosterone in their saliva increased.
There were also fewer differences in perceptions about attractiveness between the men when they were under the influence of the chemical messengers.
Professor Grammer said: "The most astonishing thing is that the attractive women lose and what they lose the others gain.
"This is part of what we call the chemical warfare between the sexes, in which one tries to exploit the other."
Other scientists say pheromones are only one ingredient of sexual attraction and only affect physical attraction. They do not alter a person's perception of an individual's intelligence or self assurance.
Professor Grammer presented the University of Vienna findings to a British Psychological Society (BPS) conference in London on Wednesday [16Dec98].
Scientists believe pheromones may help people choose biologically compatible mates.
Professor Grammer also said the oral contraceptive pill could stop a woman producing pheromones and undermine her ability to pick up the right chemical signals from men.
Grammer said the pheromone confusion caused by the pill could cause a woman to choose a mate with whom she could not produce a child.
"She picks out the genetically wrong mates. It's highly possible that she will not be able to produce offspring with her mate," he said.
16 December, 1998; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/236046.stm; J Smith PhD]