Attraction Reaction: How the way you “don’t” smell is affecting your sex life

We all know that the feminists’ movement of the sixties propelled women forward. Today you can be a strong woman; you can work in traditionally male fields, parent on your own, and be sexually assertive. But…you still have to smell nice. Its one area of women’s sexuality that seems to throw us back to June Cleaver as role model. And for some reason it seems to be ok with everyone. But, those douche-eschewing feminists have got one up their sleeve. What if I told you that your favorite perfumes and scented products might actually repel potential sex partners?

Perhaps the most notorious of these products are the vaginal deodorant sprays being pandered in flowery commercials and print ads. It doesn’t stop there. As a culture we seem obsessed with cleanliness. We shower every day with every scent of soap and body wash you can imagine. We pile on the antiperspirants and armpit deodorant like there’s no tomorrow. We use fragrant products and purchase expensive perfumes from our favorite department stores. And surprise, all of these wonderful products only wash away or cover up our natural odor that attracts the opposite sex.

It seems research is now suggesting that because we douse, spray, and rub so many chemical preparations on ourselves, that we’re not attracting the men we used to. This may finally get the average woman’s attention — if old feminist mantras won’t.

Studies examining the impact of pheromones have been conducted for years. How could something that sounds so cold and clinical be affecting your sex life?

Pheromones are a chemical substance that is produced by all mammals. They have one purpose: to serve as a stimulus to other individuals of the same species. They are considered our natural attraction system to perpetuate the human race. When researchers talk about the “menstrual synchrony” of female friends, or perfume ads tout the animal “essence” injected into Musk perfumes to attract the opposite sex, pheromones are what they’re talking about.

In human studies by the Athena Institute for Women’s Wellness Research, it was found that when placebos were used against pheromones, ”there was a tendency for the pheromone users to experience an increase in petting, affection, kissing, and the number of informal dates pursued.” According to Athena, male pheromones (androstenol/androstenone) from sweat have direct impact on female menstrual cycles and ovulation. And it also works the other way around. “Female pheromones (copulins), which are present in vaginal secretions, influence the male perception of females and may induce hormonal changes.” Meaning, that the more pheromone that men are exposed to, the more likely they will be attracted to that specific female. This may be why pheromone filled gyms and dance clubs are such great places to find a sex partner. For instance, you would want to hit the dance floor a few minutes, build up a bit of a sweat — to get those pheromones working — and then sidle up to the person you’ve had your eye on.

To illustrate this point ABC News conducted its own informal test. They placed sets of identical twins (with as many variables controlled as possible) at a popular New York City bar. One member was given an unscented pheromone spray and the other plain witch hazel. The subjects were told, “Not to make the first move.” The sister wearing the pheromones was approached by 30 men compared to the non-pheromone sister who was only approached by 11. Even ABC admitted that, “They could not deny what they saw happen at the bar.”

Of course, there are many companies who would love to market a spray product that contains human pheromones (animal pheromones aren’t effective outside their species). These companies have suggested that the use of these “spray on” pheromones may have benefits. Everything from use on couples with various fertility problems, couples in sex therapy for lack of desire, to just increasing the chances that you might get laid. Even the esteemed American Medical Association’s “Psychiatric Annals” journal has confirmed the power of these sex attractants.

Clinical Sexologist Dr. Patty Fawver says the issue is more complex, “Attempting to cover up our natural scent is simply a reflection of our larger dissatisfaction with our bodies. Most women use these products in excess because subconsciously they feel uncomfortable with the way they smell. When women can develop an acceptance and even an appreciation of the realities of their natural body odor it can become an important part of accepting the whole self.”

So, what are we so afraid of, that we may offend someone? That perhaps our natural odors are so strong and pungent that people will want to avoid having sex with us? God forbid you smell like a woman and not a chemically fused alcohol preparation that costs about $1.00 to make (if that) and $50.00 to buy.

I’m not suggesting that we stop bathing, using fragrance products completely, or to go out and buy some pheromone perfume (currently, you can only purchase animal or synthetic pheromones). There is obviously still a long way to go in researching this phenomenon. But think about it: our use of scented products is so automatic. Shouldn’t we at least take a moment to ponder the motivations behind our obsessive nature? After all, a little sweat is a cheap alternative to expensive department store perfumes.