Sweaty male armpits “turn on” women

If you ask the average woman whether her partner’s sweaty armpits are a turn-on or a turn-off, she is most likely to answer the latter.

However, a substance found in male underarm sweat has now been proven to affect the unconscious behaviour of the fairer sex.

In fact, it’s already the main ingredient in a number of so-called ‘love potions’ that can be bought freely over the internet. But thanks to the latest research into human body chemistry by Johan Lundström of Uppsala University’s Olfactory group, we now have scientific proof that this substance, with the unsexy name androstadienone, is responsible for making us women sit up and take notice.

Lundström will be defending his thesis on the topic this Friday at Uppsala University, where he will present proof that androstadienone affects the autonomous nervous system of women making them more attentive. Scientists have found long-sought proof that people release potent chemical signals that can have profound effects on other people.

Pheromones are molecules that are usually airborne and odourless and which, in other species, influence such physiological processes and behaviours such as mate choice, the recognition of one’s own family members, and the ability to “smell” the difference between friend and foe. It’s been known for some time that women who live in the same house gradually ‘synchronise’ their menstrual cycles, something that has been thought to be connected to pheromones.

Lundström says he now has the evidence to support androstadienone’s claim to be classified as the first male pheromone. The research shows that androstadienone is a human pheromone that has the ability to influence unconscious behaviour.

In Lundström’s experiments, women were stimulated with very small quantities of this substance, too small to be identified via the sense of smell. The results showed clearly that the women’s autonomous nervous system became fired up, as did the psychological mechanisms related to arousal. In other words, they paid greater attention to an individual of the opposite sex who had small amounts of the pheromone androstadienone about them

“This is all about finding out the unconscious effects on behaviour that is steered into a certain direction by thought processes with a long term affect,” says Johan Lundström. He also found that the female brain processed this substance some 20 times faster than other substances and that about ten percent of women were hyper sensitive to this pheromone.

The Olfactory Research Group at the Department of Psychology, at Uppsala University, studies how different smells are received, and how these characteristics affect us unconsciously. They’re also interested in finding out more about how different steroids found in the human body (so-called pheromones) affect our mood, behaviour, and physiology.

Lundström will be defending his thesis on the 23rd September at Uppsala University. A seminar on the olfactory system – open to the public – will be held 22nd September.

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