Pheromone Perfumes: Do They Really Work?

It's believed that the scent of men and women connect to the point of creating sexual attraction. Here's how far this pheromone-linked effect works.
Pheromone Perfumes: Do They Really Work?
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 13 May, 2023

Great power is attributed to pheromone perfumes: the power of sexual attraction. This hypothesis dates back to the 20th century, when there was talk about desire created between men and women because of the smell coming from them.

It’s believed that fragrances with pheromones would create a better perception of attractiveness. Using this concept, the substances are marketed with the promise of making you irresistible in the eyes of others.

It’s the scent you save for special occasions, the lotion you don’t want to share, the one that may become your favorite. But are they really effective enough to make you attractive to others?

What are pheromones and how do they influence sexual behavior?

The term “pheromone” has Greek roots and means “to carry arousal.” Pheromones are natural chemicals produced by the body.

Although these substances don’t carry an odor as such, they’re supposed to elicit reactions through smell. The organ that senses them is called the vomeronasal and is responsible for detecting substances that cause behavioral changes in social, maternal, and sexual aspects.

According to research, it has been proven that animals communicate using these substances, causing stereotyped or endocrine behaviors in the receptors.

But further research is required to understand how pheromones work in human sexual behavior.

Early studies showed that the natural odor coming from the male body, as well as sweat and hormones, would make women more fertile, regulate their menstrual cycles, or help them with a symptom-free menopause. In the case of female pheromones, they would be able to synchronize periods between ladies in constant contact and increase sexual desire.

The perfume industry takes advantage of the link between pheromones and sexual attraction to introduce the characteristics in their products and sell the premise of fragrances with the power to make people fall in love.

A couple using pheromone perfumes.
The effectiveness of pheromones in humans is debated. Do they have the power to arouse desire?

What are pheromone perfumes all about?

Pheromone perfumes contain copies of the chemical substances exhaled by humans. These elements are synthesized in a laboratory to turn them into a cosmetic additive. Once upon a time, the reproductions used in lotions were animal pheromones.

The advertising campaigns undertaken by brands are tied to the theory of seducing by spraying a few drops of perfume on the skin of the neck and wrists. They’re sold as aphrodisiacs ideal to attract the opposite sex, once they’re received by the vomeronasal organ.

Some people trust in the effectiveness of these products, but there are also those who debate the ability of fragrances to make people “fall in love”. Some simply say they have no effect.

There are 3 reproductions of human chemicals most commonly used in perfumes:

  • Androstenone: These are associated with the smell of urine and perspiration. It’s produced in the testicles and is believed to promote sexual attractiveness.
  • Androstenol: This is present in male sweat, so it’s suggested as a possible human pheromone that may influence the increase of female sexual arousal.
  • Androstenedione: Women produce this in their ovaries and men in their testicles. It’s the substance linked to identifying the opposite sex. It’s assumed that when women ovulate and men perceive this pheromone, testosterone levels increase, leading to sexual attraction.

Are pheromone perfumes effective?

The debate on the veracity of human pheromones is getting wider and wider. Other research states that the chemical formula of some human pheromones isn’t yet known.

It says that the alleged effect of these substances is simply something promoted by literature and cinema, which view them as a symbol of sexual attraction, romanticism, and success in the search for a partner. In fact, they label perfumes with pheromones as an advertising hoax.

For its part, the Royal Society Open Science published an experiment analyzing the probable effect of pheromone candidates on the alteration of gender perception. At the end of the investigation, the hypothesis wasn’t supported. However, some opinions consider that human pheromones may exist and that perhaps the research was flawed.

Therefore, further research by the scientific community is essential to assert that perfumes, whose main ingredients are synthesized pheromones, actually provoke romanticism in couples.

A woman smelling flowers.
The sense of smell has not been fully studied. There are still aspects of this human aspect to be discovered.

Sexual attraction goes beyond aromas

When in doubt about the power of human pheromones, it’s advisable not to attribute sexual chemistry only to a perfume. Traditional methods don’t require as much experimentation to prove if they’re any good. The image you project and your personality both favor sex appeal.

In addition to interaction, your words, and your attitude, if you want to complement this with a perfume, then it doesn’t have to contain pheromones. Perfumers say that there are many pleasant and attractive fragrances such as jasmine, lavender and woody spices that can be sexually attractive.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.