Introduction

Last year I came across a girl who was wearing a sweater that was several sizes larger than she wears. However, it was a relatively warm day inside the school building, so most of the other students were wearing a t-shirts and shorts combination. I noticed that when she sat down at a table, the other girls at the table immediately commented on her sweater, admiring its color and material, even though I saw it as an ordinary sweater, and it was certainly too big for her anyway.

She explained to the other girls that the sweater belonged to her boyfriend, and told the other girls to smell it. They all agreed that the sweater smelled good. So I decided to walk over there and smell the sweater myself. It smelled for the most part neutral except for a hint of sweat and cheap cologne, the locker room smell that I didn't care for. I asked the girl wearing the sweater,

"What the heck is it about this smell that you like? All I smell is cheap cologne and sweat!"

She answered,

"I don't know... I can't describe it, it just smells good!"

Another girl interjected, taking another whiff of the garment,

"It's just that smell of guys' clothes, you know? It smells SOOO good!"

The other girls at the table nodded and agreed.

So I began to think - why is it that the sweater smelled good to the girls but neutral to me? I suppose it works the other way - I do indeed like the smell of girls - that is, when they aren't coated with excessive perfume and all of those other flammable and hazardous chemicals you'd find only in stores like Bath and Bodyworks. The smell - is this the reason women tend to end up on "his" side of the bed in his absence? Some kind of chemical scent that men give off that attracts women?

"It must be the sweat," I said to myself.

Sweat?

I decided that I'd do a little research on the topic in a quest to discover what it was about male sweat that attracted women.

There are a few chemicals that appear in trace amounts in certain parts of the male body by the same glands that produce sweat, at the underarms, the nipples, the pubic area, and the lips, eyelids, and the ear - called androstenone and androsterone. These chemicals are potentially human pheromones - that is, the chemicals have been known to sexually attract women and sometimes repel men (apparently, a spacing pheromone to mark territory and signal physical presence). They are detected by the Vomeronasal Organ, which in turn sends sexual response signals to the brain. Women are about 1000 times more sensitive to the scent than men are.

The experiment showed that women responded with friendliness, emotionality, and sensitivity when exposed to larger concentrations of the chemical, and that the chemical also has greater effects in the first period of the woman's menstrual cycle. Women generally undergo flushing of the nasal area and cheeks when exposed to the chemical and tend to flirt more.

Nowadays you can actually purchase colognes that are laced with these pheromones, and I have not seen anything to date that disproves its effectiveness. It's not a drug or anything - women still have control of their actions - but such colognes have been proven to give men a higher sucess rate in courting.

The most expensive perfume in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) was developed by Calvin Klein, and contained androstenone, and it sold for $2,670 USD per bottle.

Girls smell good too

There also female chemicals that work to attract men. The fatty acid mixture called couplins which occurs in vaginal secretions seems to change the behavior and physiological state of men - it makes optical attractiveness less important to most male test subjects.

Further Reading

There is an article about this in Psychology Today called "The Smell of Love" if you want more information about human pheromones and their effects on human physiology.

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