Sexes: The Hidden Power of Body Odors

Copyright © 1986. Time Magazine.


Studies find that male pheromones are good for women's health

Excerpted by Athena Institute

Author:John Leo

Reported by Robert Ajemian

Women who work or live together tend to get their menstrual cycles in sync. That curious phenomenon known for years by scientists and many ordinary folk, has long been suspected as an indication that humans, like insects and some mammals, communicate subtly by sexual aromas known as pheromones (click for more details). Last week Philadelphia researchers weighed in with two reports showing that scents, including underarm odors, do indeed affect menstrual cycles.The reports came with a kicker: male scents play a role in maintaining the health of women, particularly the health of the female reproductive system.

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that women who have sex with men at least once a week are more likely to have normal menstrual cycles, fewer infertility problems and a milder menopause than celibate women and women who have sex rarely or sporadically. So the researchers were hardly tentative about the meaning of it all.

"What we're saying here is that men are really important for women," said Winnifred Cutler (click for bio), a biologist and specialist in behavioral endocrinology who conducted the study along with Organic Chemist George Preti. "If you look at all the data, the conclusion is compelling. A man or his essence seems essential for an optimally fertile system." Nor did Cutler shrink from the commercial possibilities. "My dream," she said, "is that manufactured male essence, in creams, sprays or perfumes, can dramatically alter the well-being of women."

***The link between regular sex and the well-being of women's reproductive systems has been explored in a series of studies by Cutler and various colleagues over the past eight years. In the two current studies, researchers collected underarm secretions from seven men and women to test further the effects of pheromones. Cutler said a "soup" of aromatic essences was taken from underarm pads worn by the volunteers for 18 to 27 hours a week over a three-month period.

Male essence, mixed with alcohol, was applied to the upper lips of six women with abnormal menstrual cycles and no current sexual relationship. Although researchers are not sure whether the pheromones were inhaled or absorbed through the skin, the cycles of these women speeded up or slowed down toward 29.5 days. The irregular cycles of six women in a control group, dabbed with only pure alcohol, remained the same. In a second group, ten women who received female essence showed a significant trend toward synchronized menstrual periods after only a few cycles. A control group showed no such change.

These studies show that the dabbed-on underarm odors have effects similar to those of regular sexual intercourse but not as strong. Cutler's earlier work on the effects of intercourse on female sexual health shows the physical presence of a man appears to be necessary but the act of coitus may not be. Masturbation seems to have no effect at all. Cutler and her colleagues found that regular sex eased problems of menopause (click for more menopause research) and infertility by making menstrual cycles more regular.

Still, she notes, "it wasn't clear until our most recent studies how important male essence really is, but now that we know this, it helps explain our earlier findings. You might say that exposure to pheromones is the essence of sex." **


COMMENT FROM ATHENA INSTITUTE: Both Athena Pheromone 10:13tm for women and Athena Pheromone 10Xtm for men are cosmetics that can increase your attractiveness to the opposite sex. Neither product is an “aphrodisiac.”

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