Pheromones and sexual attraction, how does it work?

The affinity between two people is ruled by complex mechanisms that escape our conscious control. Physical appearance is not the only component that raises sexual attraction. Often, ugly people are really successful in generating erotic interest so, what other factors are involved? One of the most mysterious ones is the sense of smell, the “chemistry”.

It’s probably the most determining factor. Each body exudes a characteristic smell that our sense of smell captures. That smell is impregnated with pheromones, chemical substances that awaken sexual attraction.

Pheromone derives from two Greek words: pheran ( to transfer) and hormas ( to excite). In other words, the pheromones are chemical substances that send smell signals subconsciously which in a natural way set off feelings of sexual attraction.

These signals are detected through an organ that is inside the nose known as Vomeronasal organ (VNO). When the VNO detects the pheromone, it sends a sexual response signal to the brain. The VNO system is formed by two sensory organs placed at the back of the nose that work independently from the remaining smell organ.

The VNO is only used by the organism for the reception of pheromones. It’s formed by two small receptors directly connected to the nervous system, going straight to the hypothalamus, center of our brain, in which our primary instincts and emotions are located, without passing through the cerebral cortex which controls our consciousness.

We perceive sexual stimulators subconsciously, as the nerves of the VNO don’t go through the cerebral cortex. In general we feel attraction, excitement and more freedom thanks to the abundant secretion of these chemical substances.

sexual attraction

According to studies, the presence of pheromones increases cortisol, which provokes certain changes in the sympathetic nervous system. The same happens when estratetraenol and androstenone are perceived, two pheromones generated on certain areas of the human body and developed in certain perfumes synthetically to produce that sexual response of attraction.

Pheromones are usually generated through body odor, generally sweat. It’s that something we identify as that person’s special smell that drives us crazy. That smell greatly influences the attraction we feel towards that person and works as a primary natural selection.

So, next time we feel instantly attracted to someone and find them inexplicably irresistible or we are head over heels for someone without understanding what is it about them, we ought to remember, more likely, pheromones are at play and there is nothing we can do about it.

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