Scent of a man

Another smell study, this time examining hormone and mood responses among straight women to male sweat.

This passage from an article in the London Daily Mail is provocative:

Dr Claire Wyart, of the University of California, said: “This is the first time anyone has demonstrated that a change in women’s hormonal levels is induced by sniffing an identified compound of male sweat.

“This male chemical signal, androstadienone, does cause hormonal as well as physiological and psychological changes in women.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience is, however, not the first to show that male sweat holds a certain appeal for the opposite sex.

A study carried out at the University of Northumbria showed that a whiff of sweat has the ability to turn a frog into a prince.

Researchers asked a group of female students to judge the attractiveness of men shown in photos. A second group of women were set the same task, but this time, unknown to them, a cloth soaked in male sweat was hidden nearby.

The women under the influence of the pheromones – released by glands including those under our arms – rated all the men as being more attractive.

Those judged as being the least attractive by the first group of women showed the biggest jump in sex appeal, with the women rating them as being almost as appealing as the best-looking men.

The only women to resist the effect of sweat were those taking the contraceptive pill.

It is thought the hormones in the Pill stop women from responding as strongly to natural signals of attraction.

Sweat also plays another important role in the mating game, with scientists believing we seek out partners whose body odour is different to our own.