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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
What a month. First, evidence that sex with her partner makes a woman less attracted to other guys. Then speculation about mind control properties in semen. And now research on how love affects women's sensitivity to men's body odor.

According to a new study led by Johan Lundstrom at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, love inhibits women's ability to identify the body odors of their male friends. Twenty women, all deeply in love, were asked to smell the body odor of same-sex friends, male friends, and their partners. Homing in on their partner's scent easily, the women had difficulty placing the scent of their male friends. Meanwhile, women were able to recognize the sweat of their female friends. It's as if falling in love disables a woman's sensory mechanism to all men but her beloved. Not only does love blind us, it apparently makes us partial amnosiacs. (Read BLONDES for more on sex and smell.)

How does this happen? According to the researchers, women's sensitivity to men's odor is hormonally modulated. "Romantic love," they say, "deflects attention away from potential new partners... likely mediated by circulating neuropeptides." Love leads us by the nose. Body odors help us bond.

It's all very interesting, and I'd love to see more in-depth research. The women weren't tested for their sensitivity to their male friends' body odors before they fell in love. Yes, they could identify their female friends' body odors more easily than those of their male friends, implying a sexual mechanism -- but that might be because women are more physically intimate, spending more time in one another's rooms, playing with one another's hair, and so on. And how exactly does it work -- does something in a man's sweat trigger a hormone that flips some smell-related switch? Does it make a difference if a woman is having protected sex or is on the Pill? Is this another case of mind control? And importantly: could it work on men, too?



What if a guy wears a certain smell, like say Axe body spray does that cause another male wearing the same smell get the female's attention?



Hi, Lillian -- All these studies involve natural body odor, which is unique -- like a chemical fingerprint. If men cover up their body odor with cologne, they might smell similar, at least temporarily, although fragrances eventually mix with body odors to produce unique smells. There's no proof that Axe works anything like real human pheromones.....Hope this helps.



Ok, so it's strictly body odours? Interesting. I kind of thought of how I used to be attracted to my mom or dad's pillow when I was a kid because it smelt like them.

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