Men’s Testosterone Affected By The Scent of a Woman
Research by Saul Miller and Jon K. Maner, Florida State University have found that men respond hormonally to women’s potent reproductive scent.
In their study, men were exposed to t-shirts worn by women during times of relatively low fertility (far from ovulation) as well as t-shirts worn by women at their peak fertility right around ovulation. The control group smelled t-shirts that had not been worn by anyone at all.
Peak fertility in women who cycle normally generally occurs in the mid-way point between menstruation – around the 14-15 day. This is also when a woman is most fertile. For the purpose of the study the t-shirt bearing woman’s menstrual cycle was tracked. Day 0 was the onset day of menstrual blood flow and women wore the t-shirt during days 13,14 and 15 (near peak ovulation) followed by a different t-shirt on days 20,21 and 22 (far from ovulation). After each day the t-shirt was sealed in a freezer bag. The women were also instructed to use unscented soap and shampoo and refrained from using perfumes, deodorants, and antiperspirants; eating odor-producing food (e.g., chili, garlic, pepper, vinegar, asparagus); smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using drugs; and engaging in sexual activity or sleeping in the same bed as someone else.
Again, results found that men responded to the scents of ovulating women more than the women who where not ovulating. This is quite an amazing finding. It suggests a hormonal pathway in men that is induced by olfactory processes. The scent of a woman at peak reproductive fertility influences the endocrinology of men.
The findings are reaching and suggest that it is these olfactory cues which can set off a chain of behavior. In fact, women’s odor may mediate men’s hormones which in turn may evoke sexual and romantic behaviour in men. Testosterone and olfactory cues have been noted to be key drivers in many animal species.
As it was previously thought that ovulation was ‘concealed’ and therefore unknown to men or even at woman herself, the results are quite striking.
Saul L. Miller and Jon K. Maner. Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues. Psychological Science. 2010. 21(2) 276-283.