January 27, 2005
Pheromone Increases Sexual Attractiveness Of Postmenopausal Women

Researchers Susan Rako M.D., a medical doctor in private practice as a psychiatrist in Newton Massachusetts, and Joan Friebely Ed.D., a researcher at Harvard's psychiatry department, have demonstrated that a synthesized pheromone applied to postmenopausal women appears to make them more sexually attractive to their partners. Here is the abstract of the paper "Pheromonal Influences on Sociosexual Behavior in Postmenopausal Women".

To determine whether a putative human sex-attractant pheromone increases specific sociosexual behaviors of postmenopausal women, we tested a chemically synthesized formula derived from research with underarm secretions from heterosexually active, fertile women that was recently tested on young women.

Participants (n=44, mean age = 57 years) were postmenopausal women who volunteered for a double-blind placebo-controlled study designed “to test an odorless pheromone, added to your preferred fragrance, to learn if it might increase the romance in your life.” During the experimental 6-week period, a significantly greater proportion of participants using the pheromone formula (40.9%) than placebo (13.6%) recorded an increase over their own weekly average baseline frequency of petting, kissing, and affection(p = .02). More pheromone (68.2%) than placebo (40.9%) users experienced an increase in at least one of the four intimate sociosexual behaviors (p = .04). Sexual motivation frequency, as expressed in masturbation, was not increased in pheromone users. These results suggest that the pheromone formulation worn with perfume for a period of 6 weeks has sex-attractant effects for postmenopausal women.

The question of whether humans are even capable of response to pheromones looks increasingly to have the answer of "Yes". This of course creates all sorts of possibilities for the future. But it also brings up some interesting issues about individual rights and free will.

Does the wearing of a pheromone violate the rights or integrity of others by invading their bodies and changing their desires and behaviors? Or does the efficacy of pheromones demonstrate limits to trying to organize societies around the idea of human rights? After all, if wearing artificially synthesized pheromones is a rights violation because it stealthily manipulates others then doesn't the natural excretion of pheromones do the same? Does it matter whether the person giving off the pheromone scent consciously chose to do so?

Then there is the question of free will. Doesn't every discovery of how chemicals alter behavior eat away at the idea of a core in every person that is free to choose?

The full paper appears to be on the web as well.

To determine whether a putative human sex-attractant pheromone increases specific sociosexual behaviors of postmenopausal women, we tested a chemically synthesized formula derived from research with underarm secretions from heterosexually active, fertile women that was recently tested on young women. Participants (n = 44, mean age = 57 years) were postmenopausal women who volunteered for a double- blind placebo-controlled study designed "to test an odorless pheromone, added to your preferred fragrance, to learn if it might increase the romance in your life." During the experimental 6-week period, a significantly greater proportion of participants using the pheromone formula (40.9%) than placebo (13.6%) recorded an increase over their own weekly average baseline frequency of petting, kissing, and affection (p = .02). More pheromone (68.2%) than placebo (40.9%) users experienced an increase in at least one of the four intimate sociosexual behaviors (p = .04). Sexual motivation frequency, as expressed in masturbation, was not increased in pheromone users. These results suggest that the pheromone formulation worn with perfume for a period of 6 weeks has sex- attractant effects for postmenopausal women.

Postmenopausal women may get better results from longer use since many of them are starting out without being involved in any kind of physically intimate relationship.

Within specific behaviors, a significantly higher proportion of pheromone than placebo users increased over their baseline behaviors in average weekly frequency of petting/affection and kissing6. However, the other sociosexual behaviors did not significantly increase.

Results in the menopausal group appear to be more modest than the results for men and women in their fertile years. Several explanations are possible. A reduced availability of male sexual partners occurs after 50. There is some evidence36 that with increasing postmenopausal age, there is a decreasing interest in sexual intercourse.

Moreover, in contrast with younger women, there is a reduced availability of male sexual partners for postmenopausal women. In fact, partner status at baseline (p=0.01) as well as pheromone use (p=0.03) were the two independent variables that significantly increased the likelihood that postmenopausal women would increase at least one intimate behavior during the 6-week experimental period. Postmenopausal women may require a longer experimental period, particularly if they need to find a partner, to bring about increases in more intimate sexual behaviors.

Details of the chemical used are being kept secret until its patent protections have been granted.

However, Winnifred Cutler, who discovered the pheromone, has said she will keep its true identity secret until patents have been granted to her Women's Wellness Research Centre, in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

But aren't patent applications in the public domain? Also, once patents are applied for is there any need for continued secrecy? My impression is that there isn't. Anyone know?

One could imagine the use of such a pheromone helping to keep together marriages of middle aged and old aged couples. But we can also expect to find that young males and females differ in the amounts of pheromnes they excrete. So expect young low pheromone producers to go for pheromone perfumes that level the playing field. Also expect eventually to see tests that measure your pheromone output. Perhaps more natural pheromone compounds will be discovered and we will be able to be tested for our pheromone profiles. There might be chemicals that elicit lust and other chemicals that elicit love from others.

Further into the future expect to see the development of gene therapy-carrying viruses on the black market that will reprogram the sexual and romantic feelings of any intended target. One can imagine these illicit treatments being used both to hook and to dump objects of desire at different stages in relationships.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 January 27 11:59 AM  Brain Sexuality


Comments
Bob Badour said at January 27, 2005 4:02 PM:

I don't see how pheromones affect rights at all. The experiment did not measure any increase in non-consensual sex, and the use of a scent is no different than wearing a fetching outfit. Are you suggesting that a Little Black Dress or a Brioni suit affects the rights of those who see them?

Randall Parker said at January 27, 2005 5:25 PM:

Bob,

I agree that if we take the view that pheromones wrongfully alter a person's mind against their will then it is hard to explain why that is unacceptable when done with pheromones but acceptable when done with visual appearances. Yet I expect to see people arguing that scents that alter a person's mind amount to the equivalent of spiking their drink with a pheromone drug or with some other drug that alters mental state. Just where do you draw the line and what rationale do you provide to draw it there?

As I see it the pheromones are on a continuum that ranges from visual cues all the way to drugs surreptitiously put into your body in solid or liquid form. Does the method of delivery make a biochemical manipulation of another person's mind more or less acceptable?

Clarence said at January 28, 2005 1:14 AM:

Patent applications are public after an office action (examination) has started, not during the months (or years) that they wait for that examination. The reason for secrecy is that (a) the inventor does not know what part(s) of the claimed invention will be approved, and may wish to file a supplemental application; if all the details are in the public domain too early, others with deeper financial pockets may try to "design around" the invention; (b) anyone can write to the patent office to protest against a claimed invention. In short, early disclosure cannot help the applicant, and may hurt.

Jim said at January 29, 2005 3:52 PM:

what about the rights of the young women who naturally produce this pheromone? can they be sued for patent infringement unless they remove the glands response for perpetual infringement?

and with regards to the implications of women wearing such a scent to induce sexual arousal in men, it sounds like young women having been using this trick for quite some time.

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