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By Boyce Rensberger, Washington Post Staff Writer

PHEROMONES DISCOVERED IN HUMANS - 'Scientists in Philadelphia have established for the first time that the human body produces pheromones (click for more on pheromones), special aromatic chemical compounds discharged by one individual that affect the sexual physiology of another. Although animals have long been known to secrete pheromones, which typically function as sex attractants, and although the existence of such chemicals in humans has long been speculated, the new research is the first to establish their existence in humans.

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The discovery, by scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania medical school, is believed to help explain a long series of puzzling findings---linking sexual behavior and the health of a woman's reproductive system--that the researchers have obtained in a landmark series of studies over 13 years.

In those studies it was found that women who have sex with men at least once a week are more likely to have normal-length menstrual cycles, fewer infertility problems and a milder menopause than women who are celibate or who have sex in a sporadic "feast or famine" pattern. The pheromone findings indicate that an essential factor, aside from sexual intercourse itself, is exposure to specific aromatic chemicals exuded in a man's normal body odors. When a woman receives these chemicals, by smell or skin absorption, even though she may not consciously notice them, they automatically improve her physiological functioning. Although claims of discovering a human pheromone are not new, the older claims have not been based on controlled experiments and most scientists have not found the arguments persuasive.

The new findings are to be published next month in Hormones and Behavior, a prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journal.

"I think we've finally answered the question. Pheromone effects are real in human beings..." said George Preti, who collaborated on the research...with Winnifred B. Cutler (click for bio). ***Cutler is an authority on the relationship between sexual behavior and hormones...*** Although the pheromone findings are new and have not previously been reported, the evidence of a link between heterosexual behavior and women's reproductive physiology has been published, with little public notice, in a series of reports over the last eight years in various scientific journals.

"It's remarkable. A very clear pattern has been emerging and it confirms that a woman's optimal reproductive health is a part of a finely tuned system and that a man, on a regular and sustained basis, is an essential part of it," said Cutler, who has led the research effort. "It wasn't clear until our most recent studies how important male essence really is," she said, "but now that we know this, it helps to explain our earlier findings. You might say that exposure to pheromones (click for product details) is the essence of sex."


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