This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Picture this: you’ve just met the person of your dreams at a bar. They tick all the boxes: funny, good looking, intelligent, respectful. You spend all night talking and laughing and keep thinking to yourself, “hey, I really think this could work out.” At the end of the night, you exchange numbers and make plans to see each other again soon.
As you lean in to hug them goodbye — and who knows, maybe you’ll even try for a kiss if the mood is right — your nose is suddenly assaulted by an atrocious smell you can’t quite put your finger on. You look to your left and right, and no one seems to notice that the air on the bar is no longer breathable. Then it hits you like a ton of bricks: your perfect guy or gal seriously stinks.
So what gives? Maybe this person has a strong aversion to showers, or perhaps they have an underlying health condition that causes them to have an unpleasant body odor. But what if your friend who was there and also hugged them goodbye said that they didn’t notice any smell? Perhaps, at the end of the day, they weren’t stinky at all. Maybe the problem was that you were repelled by their pheromones.
What are pheromones?
Pheromones are odorless chemicals that trigger an unconscious response in members of the same species. For example, plants and animals secrete pheromones to communicate and signal other plants or animals of the same species that they are ready to reproduce.
Humans and other mammals detect pheromones through an organ in the nasal cavity (aka, the inside of the nose) called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ, which is connected to the hypothalamus in the brain.
Pheromones differ from hormones in several ways. Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by a type of glands called endocrine glands. They affect many different processes, including development, metabolism, and growth.
The main difference between pheromones and hormones is that hormones act inside your body, influencing your functions and behaviors. Pheromones, on the other hand, are secreted by your body but are designed to influence the behaviors of others. Read more about the different types of human pheromones here https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/pheromones/.
Can pheromones make you more attractive?
Studies looking at the influence of human pheromones on sex and attraction have yielded mixed results. There is not enough evidence that synthetic or man-made pheromones, such as the so-called pheromone perfume or pheromone-infused essential oils, can make someone fall in love with you or boost libido.
However, in a 2013 study published in Facts, Views, and Vision: Issues in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Health, women who had a dose of pheromones from male sweat applied to their upper lip showed an increased sexual response and improved mood. More research is definitely needed, but many scholars hypothesize that human pheromones could also have implications for fertility, menstrual cycles, mood regulation, and enhanced desire.
How to increase pheromones naturally
While products marketed as pheromone enhancers may not be very effective, there are ways to boost your pheromone production naturally:
- Exercise regularly
- Increase your zinc intake by consuming zinc-rich foods, like shellfish, oysters, eggs, and milk. Alternatively, consider taking a zinc supplement
- Don’t skip sleep
- Maintain good hygiene
- Switch to a natural deodorant