Why do people use perfumes

This is how pheromones really affect us

That is controversial. There are some studies trying to find a connection between pheromones and the attraction of two people. So should the Armpit and vaginal odor from women before ovulation is more arousing on men act as afterwards - similar to the behavior of primates, who use the urine and vaginal odor to research the reproductive status of female conspecifics.

The problem with these studies: “On the basis of a change in behavior, it is not yet possible to tell whether it was initiated by a pheromone - or by a normal odor effect,” explains Hanns Hatt.

Perfect partner thanks to sweaty shirts

Even so, the role of pheromones in attraction and mate choice has been mystified in recent years. For example, pheromone perfumes are marketed for an additional attraction kick, and a special dating format has even emerged around the supposed sexual attractants: pheromone parties.

The concept: Each guest brings a T-shirt that they slept in for three nights - and the other guests can sniff their way through the T-shirts. Those who can smell good get the chance to meet.
This type of pheromone tinder is based on the idea that people, like animals, can release pheromones through sweat. People should have a particularly attractive odor, theirs Immune system differs as much as possible from ours - a good prerequisite for healthy offspring. But can we actually sniff other people's immune systems?

Unlikely, experts believe

What is clear is that it works with mice. A mouse can use pheromones to perceive very well whether it is meeting a related mouse with a similar immune system - or a strange one, which is preferred as a partner with its different immune system. The mouse only needs thorough urine and fur contact with the other mouse. But while the mouse has about 300 highly specialized receptors for detecting pheromones, we have just five classic pheromone receptors.

Hanns Hatt considers it extremely unlikely that humans, with their low number of pheromone receptors, can only collect information about the immune system of other party guests using a T-shirt. In addition, it is assumed that pheromones are found in sweat - but no human pheromone has yet been isolated.

“If a person smells something, it is more likely the odor cloud of the microbiome,” the many bacteria in and on us. “The smell of bacteria can provide information about our health. However, this has nothing to do with pheromones; the normal 400 olfactory receptors in the nose are responsible for this, ”says the biologist and physician.

Author: Verena Mengel