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Human Pheromone Experiments – Do They Exist?


It’s easy to find online pheromone products. They are available in the form of perfume additives and sprays. Most of them claim you’ll get plenty of sexual attention from the opposite sex. According to Athena Institute, which was founded by Winnifred Cutler, scientific research proves that its products work. The company just recently published the 108thconsecutive advertisement in the Atlantic that makes this claim.

Numerous studies were done on compounds taken from human armpits. The goal is to determine how they impact human sexual behavior. Although this type of experimentation has taken place for over a decade, it is still met with skepticism. George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, participated in many of these human pheromone experiments. He doesn’t believe these compounds impact sexual attraction.

What Are Pheromones?

According to scientists, pheromones are chemical signals released by humans that cause others to react. Although a majority of these chemicals are linked to sexual behaviors, scientists discovered they also prompt aggression or modify parental behavior.

The existence of pheromones among animals is very well known and accepted, but this isn’t the case with humans. As a matter of fact, the topic is still very controversial. Ron Yu, who studies rodent pheromones at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, wants to believe that human pheromones exist. However, none of the studies published on the topic have been enough to convince him.

Cutler, the founder of the Athena Institute, does not share the same opinion. Her company sells $90 bottle pheromone fragrances to both men and women. She believes there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of pheromones. She claims both Athena research and independent research shows that her company’s products contain pheromones that boost sexual attraction. Double-blind, placebo-controlled protocols were used during these experiments.

The Human Pheromone Experiments

In 1986, two studies were published in Hormones and Behavior by Cutler and a group of associates. The studies claim the secretions from men and women can change a woman’s menstrual cycle. News outlets such as the Washington Post reported this information in articles such as “Pheromones Discovered in Humans.” This article claimed Cutler was the first to discover human pheromones.

However, the article also stated this doesn’t automatically mean pheromones are responsible for sexual attraction. Also, the article stated that human pheromones may not work in the same manner as animal pheromones. In addition, the reporter stated that human pheromones work over a period of time to change a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Dr. Winnifred Cutler

Also, during this time, Cutler created the Athena Institute. She went on to develop two pheromone products known as Athena Pheromone 10X for Men and Athena Pheromone 10:13 for Women. Both of these trademarked formulas contain substances that are synthesized from human armpits. Both were researched within double-blind placebo-controlled environments. The latter was researched and tested on 38 men.

The former was tested via two teams of independent researchers. The first team tested 36 college women. The second team tested 44 postmenopausal women. Research shows that when participants were given pheromones, their sexual behaviors increased. This included things such as receiving more formal dates, getting more kisses and having more sexual intercourse.

However, since no one knows what the compounds are, there’s no way to redo these tests in order to validate the findings. When Cutler was asked about her pheromone formulas, she claims the ingredients come from underarm extracts. She says she cannot reveal her research findings to competitors.

There were other problems associated with this research. According to Yu, many small sample sizes relied on self-reported behavior. He never believed this research was good enough to draw a solid conclusion about human pheromones.

The Hunt for Human Pheromones

There are four substances that are commonly known as human sexual pheromones. They are estratetraenol, androstadienone, androstenone, and androstenol.

Although these substances are very prevalent in scientific research and pheromone products, Tristram Wyatt, a University of Oxford zoologist doesn’t believe they are human pheromones. He argued this point in a 2015 Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper. According to Wyatt, science does not provide enough proof.

He says androstenol and androstenone were listed just because scientists found certain molecules in human armpits that were known to be pig pheromones. He says science has not proven that these molecules impact human sexual behavior.

There is another reason why Wyatt doesn’t believe androstadienone and estratetraenol to be pheromones. EROX was the first company to claim them as pheromones in the 1990s. No one could ever prove why they were considered to be pheromones. No scientific research was ever published, according to Wyatt.

Controversy on whether they Exist

However, many studies say otherwise. For instance, a study in Current Biology was done in 2014. It claims that these molecules can attract members of the opposite sex. More recently, however, a report in Royal Society Open Science disputed this fact. Wyatt says many pheromone product companies make these claims, but they don’t have solid evidence to back them up.

According to Preti, there is plenty of evidence to show human pheromones exists, but this doesn’t mean they impact sexual attraction. They impact other behavior such as modifying a woman’s menstrual cycle or hormone release. There is no doubt that pheromones in humans are powerful.

According to the Wyatt, the main ingredient in pheromone products is “hope.” It produces a strong placebo effect. Obviously, if you spend a large sum of money on a perfume, your confidence level is higher. You want the product to work. But this doesn’t mean there’s anything in the product that’s going to make it happen.

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