February 7, 2007 10:48 AM PST

Study: Male sweat causes female hormones to rise

Do sweaty men turn women on? Informal office polls say no, but science tells a different story.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have conducted a study that concluded a few whiffs of androstadienone--a pheromone found in male sweat and perfumes--can raise levels of the hormone cortisol in women. Cortisol is associated with stress, but also arousal and brain activation.

The study, reported this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that humans, like rats and some insects, secrete a scent that affects the physiology of the opposite sex.

"Many people argue that human pheromones don't exist, because humans don't exhibit stereotyped behavior," said Claire Wyart, a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Olfactory Research Program, in a prepared statement. "Nonetheless, this male chemical signal, androstadienone, does cause hormonal as well as physiological and psychological changes in women. More cognitive studies need to be done to understand how androstadienone affects female cognitive functions."

In two trials, 48 female undergrads at Berkeley were asked to take 20 sniffs from a bottle containing androstadienone, which the researchers say smells vaguely musky. Over a period of two hours, the volunteers provided five saliva samples, from which cortisol levels were determined.

The control group sniffed a yeast solution, while the other group took a hit of androstadienone. The group exposed to the pheromone reported an improved mood and significantly higher sexual arousal, as well as physiological responses such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

Cortisol levels in the group exposed to androstadienone rose within about 15 minutes and remained elevated for more than an hour.

Are you missing college yet?
Although androstadienone appears to incite changes in hormonal levels in women, there is no hard evidence--or any personal, anecdotal experience for that matter--that male sweat induces subliminal or instinctual behavior on the part of women that might make them gravitate toward a sweaty male.

In rats, hormonal secretion can cause behavior changes in the sniffer because of a vomeronasal organ rodents have. Humans have a similar organ, but it appears to be vestigal with no nerve connection to the brain.

See more CNET content tagged:
women, researcher, study


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
it all makes sense now
I had a friend that was always stinky, but never had any trouble with the ladies. Now I understand why.
Posted by tsi26 (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting story...
I remember reading a few years ago that the famous Cassanova would court his women by handing them an apple he had kept under his armpit for a while... now the new science discovery gives some validity to that!
Posted by jorge.u.martinez (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dear Penthouse...
I never thought I'd be writing to your magazine but I was recently involved in a study on androstadienone...
Posted by Plaguey (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Tech news?
Umm.. why is this up here? Did the lab where they did the tests use Linux?

C-Net needs to stick to tech news.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who's Paying For This Useless Study?
Another useless study coming out of Berkeley. I hope the taxpayers are not footing the bill for this.

Lot's of things cause a rise in cortisol,including drinking coffee. I suppose the next phase of the Berkeley study will be to ask women whether they would rather smell sweaty T-shirts or drink a double latte.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pheremones, it's why your sister doesn't turn you on.
Although the top ingredients of our pheromone output such as Androstadienone, Androstanone, Androstenol, Androsterone, Estratetraenol, Estratrienol, and estratetraenone can trigger sexual/romantic attractions, the complex undertones seem to carry information about our genetic suitability as a mate.

In researching my book (DNA will Find a Way) I found that the more two people differ genetically, the stronger the pheremonal attraction.

It's another human foolishness to pretend that the mating chemistry and rituals of other lifeforms are somehow absent in ourselves.

Pheromone based aerosols have been used in pig breeding for many years, and the market success of fragrences such as REALM, which contains Estratetraenol (estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol)

The reason we have hair on our armpits, groin, and upper lip, is to improve the diffusion of our chemical messengers.

The message is not limited to sexuality. Fear, Dominance, and a range of emotional output is received by the vomeronasal organs in the nose and affects the subconsious areas of the brain directly.

I found an excellent article here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.love-scent.com/article_info.php/articles_id/5?osCsid=676983c80a2193ea1ce13a9d1ed8b21f" target="_newWindow">http://www.love-scent.com/article_info.php/articles_id/5?osCsid=676983c80a2193ea1ce13a9d1ed8b21f</a>
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Reply Link Flag
er... pherOmones, I can't spell
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
er... pherOmones, I can't spell
i fixed it in the text, butt missed it in the headline
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
er... pherOmones, I can't spell
i fixed it in the text, but missed it in the headline
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
Cheerleaders are attracted to sweaty jocks, film at 11!


Next they'll say that ugly men with lots of money attract supermodels!
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is news? Hasn't anybody read any history?
The ancient Romans knew this. They didn't know the exact pheromones but there was quite a market among women for the sweat of gladiators.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Was this article really necessary? Excuse me while I puke.
Posted by larryc92039 (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do pheromones contribute to Global Warming?
Am I still at C/Net?

This story has nothing to do with Vista, Google, the Zune, or saving
the Earth from mankind.
Posted by Sparky672 (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.