Do Pheromones Work?
As more and more products that claim to contain pheromones that increase sexual attraction come onto the market every day, it's natural to wonder, "Do pheromones work?" The easy answer is that, yes, pheromones do work as a mating signal between animals, including humans, but scientists are less sure of how powerful a role pheromones play in human sexual attraction, and how exactly humans excrete and register pheromones.
- Pheromones At Work. Pheromones are chemical compounds that animals excrete to signal a wide variety of socially useful information, including when they are fertile and receptive to a partner. Pheromones are also commonly used to warn other animals of danger or to alert them of the presence of a food source.
- Human Pheromones. There is no question among scientists that humans do release pheromones that function as messages that other humans read on an unconscious level. Two different studies that looked at the effect of perfume additives showed that women exposed to synthetic human pheromones found pictures of men more attractive than a control group of women not exposed to pheromones did. Another study showed that when the menstrual cycles of women who live together begin to synchronize, it is because of pheromone signals.
- Unanswered Questions. While scientists understand how pheromones work in animals, and they acknowledge that pheromones do play a role in unconscious human communication, they are not sure of exactly how people secrete pheromones or read others' pheromones. It is believed that other primates use the vomeronasal organ (VNO) register pheromones, but the human VNO lacks critical components that are believed to be integral to the process.