Understanding the Biochemistry Behind Pheromones

Almost everyone has heard of pheromones, and most people understand the basic principle behind it: a pheromone is a chemical that ignites a physical or sexual attraction between two members of the opposite sex within a particular species. The emphasis on pheromones when it comes to attraction, however, is often placed heavily on animal species and less so on the attractions that happen daily in our own human world.

The full truth of sexual attraction in the human world, however, is much more complex than what first meets the eye. The inner workings of pheromones are considered outside of our consciousness altogether. These organic chemicals are produced by our bodies to communicate our reproductive qualities to possible partners. Since the human genome contains over 1,000 olfactory genes, and only around 300 genes for our visual sense in photoreceptors, scientists and bachelors alike have begun to understand the importance of scent to the survival of the human species, which relies heavily on attraction and reproduction.

What Comprises a Pheromone?

These chemicals, which have often been referred to as “Cupid’s drug”, are made up of a complex blend of chemicals in our bodies. The three axillary steroids of human pheromones are androstenone, androstenol, and androstadienone. The different combinations of acetates and aldehydes are said to send different signals to possible partners of the opposite sex, creating a unique attraction experience for each human on the planet.

Androstenone is a chemical pheromone found in both male and female sweat and urine, and it plays a large role in the attraction of animals, specifically pigs. Although the scent of androstenone is mostly undetectable by humans, the scent plays a role in social displays of dominance in animals, and is used as a method of attracting a mate. When detected by humans, the scent of androstenone has been described across the spectrum, from sweet and floral to unpleasant and urinous.

Androstenol is another sex pheromone found in pigs that has also been suggested to play a role in human pheromones and attraction. A chemical derivative of androstenol is found in truffles (mushrooms), and it offers a weak odor that is found in human sweat glands.

The Grand Pheromone: Androstadienone

The grand sex pheromone for humans, however, is the same one found in many men’s colognes as well as synthetic pheromone products: androstadienone. The basis for attracting a heterosexual female is found in this chemical – hence its presence in “scent” or “attraction” products – and is derived from the male sex hormone, testosterone.

When a woman detects the scent of androstadienone, it has a positive affect on her mood and attention, and has been suggested to affect her behavior as well. Studies have shown that androstadienone triggers a response in a woman’s hypothalamus. Perhaps self-explanatory by the role of this part of the brain in itself, the hypothalamus is responsible for managing the release of sex hormones in the body. The same is also true when studies focused on women attracting men. The female pheromone, estratetraenol, has been found to cause a positive response in the hypothalamuses of heterosexual men, thereby igniting a sexual attraction.

When we look closely at the biochemistry behind pheromones, we begin to understand their role in physical and romantic attraction. Although other factors have an effect on attracting a mate or feeling attracted to a potential partner, there is a valid role of human sex pheromones when it comes to having a special eye for a certain someone. Perhaps pheromones can explain the innate mystery behind attraction, and since its role has been validated by science, why not implement it in your quest for the perfect someone?