Scent of a woman: Men's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues

Jan 13, 2010

Women around the world spend billions of dollars each year on exotic smelling perfumes and lotions in the hopes of attracting a mate. However, according to a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, going "au natural" may be the best way to capture a potential mate's attention.

Smells are known to be critical to animal mating habits: Animal studies have shown that male testosterone levels are influenced by odor signals emitted by females, particularly when they are ovulating (that is, when they are the most fertile). Psychological scientists Saul L. Miller and Jon K. Maner from Florida State University wanted to see if a similar response occurs in humans. In two studies, women wore tee shirts for 3 nights during various phases of their menstrual cycles. Male volunteers smelled one of the tee shirts that had been worn by a female participant. In addition, some of the male volunteers smelled control tee shirts that had not been worn by anyone. Saliva samples for testosterone analysis were collected before and after the men smelled the shirts.

Results revealed that men who smelled tee shirts of ovulating women subsequently had higher levels of testosterone than men who smelled tee shirts worn by non-ovulating women or men who smelled the control shirts. In addition, after smelling the shirts, the men rated the odors on pleasantness and rated the shirts worn by ovulating as the most pleasant smelling.

The authors note that "the present research is the first to provide direct evidence that olfactory cues to female ovulation influence biological responses in ." In other words, this study suggests that levels may be responsive to smells indicating when a woman is fertile. The authors conclude that this may promote mating-related behavior by males.

Explore further: Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A woman's nose knows body odor

Apr 07, 2009

It may be wise to trust the female nose when it comes to body odor. According to new research from the Monell Center, it is more difficult to mask underarm odor when women are doing the smelling.

Newly launched study to probe women's response to male odor

Feb 05, 2008

A single gene determines whether a whiff of androstadienone smells pleasant or foul, or like nothing at all. But researchers who last year discovered this genetic peculiarity were left wondering about its social implications.

Testosterone levels dictate attraction

Sep 15, 2008

Women with higher levels of testosterone are more attracted to masculine looking men like celebrity beefcakes Russell Crowe and Daniel Craig.

Recommended for you

Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

22 hours ago

A new article published online in The Gerontologist reports that among older Christians, listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in anxiety about death and increases in life satisfaction, self-e ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dan42day
5 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2010
Somebody is sure to be scrambling to find the compounds that cause this effect. It should be worth 100's of millions to the cosmetic industry. In fact, I wouldn't mind spraying some on a car I've been trying to sell for six months.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2010
Look for human pheromones and for the vomeronasal organ to learn more.
ArtflDgr
5 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2010
oh whats a gender feminist to do? science keeps proving their premises completely wrong... oh the humanity of it.
alaskawoman
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2010
I hate to crash a scientific party but, my husband loses his mind and wants primal sex when I have been perspiring heavily. Even if he didn't know in advance that I was. I haven't ovulation for about eight years now so I can't say that their evidence is very plausible. Try the same study with women like me. I bet the results will be the same. No ovulation required.

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...