Are Human-Produced Pheromones A Myth?


It is well-known that countless animal species produce scents to communicate, but is this something that people can do as well? This article will discuss the topic of human pheromones and what science currently says about them.

Evolution & Pheromones

Currently, pheromones in humans isn’t a well-researched and fully-understood concept, but there is scientific evidence that our use of scent to send communication signals to others has diminished because there is a lack of a need for this function, and we can see this by looking at some of our closest relatives – the primates.

Many primates still use pheromones, such as lemurs and New World monkeys in the Americas, but Old World monkeys, which are from Africa and Asia as well as the apes, seem to have a weakened sense of smell because they began to rely on the sense of sight more because they developed the gene for color vision.

This is especially apparent in baboons and their relatives. In females, their rear-end will swell up, which indicates to males that they’re in estrus, and in certain male species, like the gelada or the mandrill, their chest and faces, respectively, can become brightly colored, and this indicates who is the most dominant male in the group.

Our closest ancestors, the chimpanzee, also rely on sexual swellings to mate, but gorillas, who are genetically similar to humans, depend more on a courting process, which eliminates the need to use pheromones. Over time, the gene responsible for helping us pick up these chemical signals has become less relevant, which is a feature observed in all Old World primates and humans.

What About The Scents We Produce?

Just because we’re not able to detect much information from them if at all, it doesn’t mean that we have eliminated pheromones entirely.

It is possible that humans can produce them in various secretions from the genitals, urine, breast milk, as well as their breath and saliva, but sweat is a topic that people tend to think of when trying to understand the connection between humans and pheromones.

Body odor, is in fact, a scent that people can be keen to pick up on, but this isn’t produced because it’s intended to communicate; rather, it happens due to bacteria and its interactions with the acids on your skin.

Nonetheless, it’s still unpleasant, and it can still send the message that someone might not have taken a shower recently. Ironically, this is a scent that is well-understood, but at this point in time, any complex communication signals from the scent in humans have not been discovered by scientists, and it’s unclear if they exist.

In addition to sight, humans are unique in that we have the ability to use language for any purpose. So if pheromones are still present in people, they probably won’t be millions of years from now.

Where To Find More Information

Topics like attraction, communication, and pheromones are fascinating, and if you’re looking to learn more about them, BetterHelp has free articles like this one for your enjoyment and educational needs.

By reading more, you can learn how to be a more effective communicator in all areas of your life, whether it’s professionally or in your social relationships. Conclusion Even if pheromones might be non-existent in humans, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use scent to create positive reactions in others.

Nevertheless, hopefully, this article has shown you why, on a historical and scientific level, we most likely don’t use naturally-occurring chemicals to relay communication signals anymore and instead utilize other senses that were developed over time.

This content is a guest post from Marie Miguel from Better Health.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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