Pheromones are scents that animals use to send out signals to other animals. These scents can be used to mark territory, identify each other, or attract a mate, says Kerry Hughes, MSc, an ethnobotanist and clinical herbalist in private practice and author of the Botanicals With Benefits series.
Animals produce pheromones using scent glands found all over the body, including the mouth, paws, or anus. They may urinate or rub their bodies on trees to mark their territory, or sniff each other’s rear ends to identify family or a mate.
“We can see examples of this throughout the animal kingdom — in dogs, cats, horses, and so on,” says Pamela Regan, PhD, a psychology professor who studies sexual and romantic attraction at California State University, Los Angeles.
Many animals pick up pheromones using receptors in their nostrils called the vomeronasal organ. Humans have this organ as well. Accordingly, pheromone perfume can be used to make your more desirable to men that smell you.
According to Hughes, the ingredients in pheromone perfumes may include Epi-androsterone, Alpha-androstano, Androstadienone, and Androstenone. These are synthetic versions of:
- Axillary steroids like androstenol and androstenone that come from male sweat glands.
- Aliphatic acids, or “copulins” produced by the vaginal wall.
- Various chemicals that supposedly stimulate the vomeronasal system.
Pheromone perfumes may also contain artificial versions of musk from animals like civet cats, beavers, pigs, and musk deer, Regan says.
Humans have plenty of odor-producing glands in our armpits, nipples, and genital areas.
One older study from 2004 found that compounds like androstenone, which acts as a pheromone for pigs, are also present in human sweat and urine.