FEB 11, 2017 09:53 AM PST

Do Human Pheromones Exist?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Scientists have well-documented evidence that animals and certain insects communicate via chemical signals in excreted oil, sweat, and even urine. These chemicals are known as pheromones, and they act like hormones, but work outside of the body. In particular, pheromone signals often alter the behavior of members of the same species. For example, pheromones may elicit sexual arousal, mark territory bounds, or bond a mother to her offspring(s). But while animals can transmit these chemical signals, do humans also have the capacity to produce and be affected by pheromones?

Despite the slew of internet ads for pills that claim to boost pheromones, the science behind this olfactory phenomenon is still inconclusive. In the 1970s, experiments by Martha McClintock showed that a woman's menstrual cycle was shifted just by sniffing the sweat of other women. Indeed, this is one of the few evidence for the existence of human pheromones. Other studies have yielded inconsistent results, and some even question the reliability of the McClintock experiments.

As the hunt for a human pheromone continues, be mindful of "love potion" products that promise everything from increased attraction to higher sex drive.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 19, 2019
The WHO Reemphasizes The Importance Of Nutrition
Nutrition lies at the foundation of good health. Without adequate nutrients, people are at substantially elevated risk for developing health problems. The...
NOV 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 19, 2019
Ultra-dark Material Constructed with Carbon Nanotubes
The reason why we can "see" is because when light rays strike an object, a portion of them get reflected at its surface and enter into our eyes....
NOV 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 19, 2019
North American Bird Populations Fell 29% Over 50 Years, But is it Too Late?
Birds are often at the forefront of interest when it comes to wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Sadly, new scientific research suggests that bird pop...
NOV 19, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 19, 2019
Runner's Knee, a Rundown
Perhaps you have taken up a running or another cardiovascular activity to protect your health as you age. This is, of course, a wise and proactive thing to...
NOV 19, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 19, 2019
Yale Scientists Solve Mass Extinction Mystery
Scientists from Yale University have solved a mystery that has plagued scientists for decades. It’s well established that 66 million years ago, a mas...
NOV 19, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 19, 2019
Meal Timing May Influence Heart Health
New research into meal timing suggests that when we eat may influence cardiovascular health. Research up until this point has focused on what we eat and ho...
Loading Comments...