Why the Pill might trick you

by singlemomseeking on October 2, 2008

Recently, Matt, a.k.a. The Theoretical Chemist, sent an interesting scientific tidbit to me about women sniffing out men:

Studies find that women are more attracted to men whose scents are different from their own.

Does the way a man/woman smells turn you on… or off?

One of my single mom friends refuses to date online because she says that you can’t smell the man first.

If you want to read this great piece in its entirety — “The Scent of a Relationship– it’s all spelled out at Single Minded Women. In short:

These studies show that women are attracted to men who have dissimilar immune systems, so that the healthiest babies will be born,” explains Martin Brown, author of “Scent of a Relationship.”

And here’s the twist: it appears that the Pill affects a woman’s sense of smell:

When a woman is on birth control, studies show that she is more attracted to men whose immune systems are similar to hers.

In other words, the Pill “tricks” a woman’s body to feel pregnant, so she’s more attracted to a man who would protect her — but not necessarily mate with her. Genetically, this man could be her cousin.

I agree! Amazingly, I do think that being on the Pill has affected the kind of man I pursued.

If any of you have used hormonal birth control, I’d love to hear if it’s changed the way you sniff out men.

~~~

If the above was a lot to digest, here’s another way to think about it:

Psychology Today reported a study by a biologist who gave 44 men new T-shirts, which they wore to bed two straight nights.

Later, single women sniffed the shirts and indicated which ones they found had the most pleasant odors.

In numbers that defied any form of mere chance, the women picked the shirts of men who were immunologically dissimilar.

This would seem logical because we mate with partners who have different immune patterns from our own. This way, we increase our chances of creating offspring that are better able to fight disease.

Psychologist Rachel Herz, author of the groundbreaking book The Scent of Desire, suggests that women ready to seek a long-term partner consider alternative birth control before they start that quest.

“If you’re looking for a man to be the father of your child,” Herz says, “go off the pill before you start your search.”

Your turn–

Photo by Loleia

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

T October 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Whoa! I had no idea!!!

I wrote a post about how we look for different types of men depending on the time in our cycle. Check it out here: http://tsquest.blogspot.com/2008/02/100th-post-lets-talk-about-s-e-x.html

Between my post and this one… its a wonder if we do have much choice who we mate with. There are too many things to consider!!! That’s just crazy!

P.S. I do love a good man scent… *sigh*

T’s last blog post…Be the peace

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Crazy Computer Dad October 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm

So…wear unwashed shirts on dates? Send them unwashed shirts instead of other gifts? No wonder us guys wear shirts until they are thread bare…chicks dig it. Instead of personality types should be be doing immunological types? or both?

How exactly do they determine “immunologically dissimilar”?

:-) sorry, feeling a bit silly today.

Crazy Computer Dad’s last blog post…XKCD…

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Jim Everson October 2, 2008 at 1:34 pm

I’m with Crazy Computer Dad on this one. Though it sounds fascinating, this claim needs to qualify the term “immunologically dissimilar.”

Does it mean I have had different inoculations? A higher white cell count? Had a healthier breakfast?

I’ll be stinking up my shirts none the less until I get all the facts. It couldn’t hurt, right?

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Phil October 2, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Just to be the devil’s advocate – like CCD is saying – aren’t we “immunologically dissimilar” from almost everyone??? Be wary of any study of only 44 people – it means they didn’t have much funds or time.

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avigail74 October 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Just to throw in something else:

Apparently, women who are on the pill have different scents as well. They are not able to give off their natural smell–the pill chemically changes everything including their smell.

And, yes, the way a man smell can turn me on or off. I love the smell of clean shaven men. Hmmm….

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Kitkat4real (SOLO dot MOM) October 2, 2008 at 1:48 pm

This is so cool! I had no idea… I just thought I like the scent of certain guys over others… who knew there was a scientific connection to our taste, or should I say smell! Now so you are telling me it’s scientifically predictable who will be my long term future soul mate? This could be interesting.

Kitkat4real (SOLO dot MOM)’s last blog post…Single Edition Approached Me For An Interview!

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SingleParentDad October 2, 2008 at 1:51 pm

So what aftershave should I be wearing? As I currently don’t wear any.

SingleParentDad’s last blog post…We Don’t Get To See Max’s Mom Much

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singlemomseeking October 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Single Parent Dad: Exactly! No aftershave is the best way to get a woman who’s after your real, MANLY scent.

Phil: You’re right about a study with 40+ people. I was cynical, too. But I have noticed how hormones affect my attraction. Hmmm.

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singlemomseeking October 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm

KitKat4Real: Are you looking for a lifelong mate with whom you might have more children?… Or a protective, reliable guy who will be there for you, but with whom you might not have more kids?

CCD: Personally, I love the smell of a guy’s unwashed T-shirt. I’m weird, I know.

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singlemomseeking October 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Jim and the guys:
Re: the term “immunologically dissimilar,” here’s my take:

Off the Pill, I’ve been attracted to men who are very different from me: Say, men from different countries, and tall brute guys who speak different languages.

On the Pill, I’ve been drawn to mostly white Jewish guys… How do you explain this?

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The Exception October 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Natural smell can definitely be a turn on – or a turn off! It would make sense that our personal chemistry is altered by the pill given that it is something that alters everything just a bit

I remember standing in the hall in college (that was where the phone was) and the different men would walk by. Some of them smelled amazing and it was all natural!.

The Exception’s last blog post…Hunters and Gatherers (Caution: Generalities in Use)

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tanasie October 2, 2008 at 6:58 pm

You know, I stopped taking the pill for a couple months (ran out and hadn’t gotten a dr’s appointment) and I have been interested in different guys than normal. Although, if it’s true that the pill makes you more attracted to guys who could be brothers or cousins — then I think I would have been a lot more successful the year I spent on JDate. (Because what I mostly didn’t like about the guys is that they reminded me of my relatives. One guy looked more like my Aunt Linda than her kids.)

tanasie’s last blog post…Husband Google Alert

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Laura October 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm

WOW how weird is that!!

I am not on the pill – when I was I just cried 90% of the time so I went off pretty quickly so cant confirm or deny the theory!

But I do know a mans scent gets my attention!!

This ia a really interesting theory though!!

Laura’s last blog post…What is your addiction?

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Lance October 3, 2008 at 4:46 am

I’m absolutely a believer in this. I’ve become so attuned to women’s scents, that I’ll qualify or disqualify a date based on her smell (or lack thereof) right away. With scent, I can tell: sexual compatibility and personality compatibility. I even speculate that scent hints at values alignment.

I think this is your body telling you who you are most compatible with.

I used to wear popular colognes on dates, but my pal gave me awesome advice and told me to drop the cologne because it masked my natural scent. I did just this and it WORKS.

Lance’s last blog post…Was Losing My Virginity Worth it?

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mc October 3, 2008 at 9:36 am

OK, I’m a biological scientist, an immunologist in fact. Here’s some facts:

1. Every single person is “immunologically dissimilar” to pretty much everyone else. So unless you have the hots for your biological brother or sister and/or your identical twin (who are more “immunologically similar” to you), you are going to be fine.

Because: what the study means by “immunologically dissimilar is that among mice who don’t reject organ transplants from one another even if not treated with immunosuppressant drugs (ie inbred mouse strains), don’t breed very well. It’s an interesting fact, but humans are not so inbred that it would make any difference. If you don’t believe me, try to get an organ transplant sometime–perfect or even close matches are hard to come by!

2. Basic biological fact: Women who are not on the pill nevertheless still cycle their hormones. Normally! Progesterone is a normal hormone, you know.

So for 2 weeks out of every 4, you’re going to be high on progesterone, even if you don’t take the pill.

So if it’s indeed true that you can’t pick a good mate because of progesterone, not taking the pill won’t really help. You have the lowest progesterone right when your period starts, so maybe you could try dating then?

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mc October 3, 2008 at 9:48 am

OK another comment from the biologist….

Human (& animal) sex pheromones do exist, and yes you have a “natural scent” that can be picked up by others’noses and it can promote sexual attraction. Deodorant masks this somewhat, but not absolutely.

The sex pheromones can also cause women living together to somewhat synchronize their periods (for example, this is common in college dormitories).

Sex pheromones probably explain why some men like a women better if they (the woman) hasn’t showered for a while. Some women similarly enjoy the “natural” smell of a man (because obvs both men and women emit these pheromones).

But of course, our response to what we smell is also extremely heavily influenced by our culturization. Smell is linked directly to our memories associations ways that are difficult if not impossible to change once you’ve grown up in a certain culture.

So what Napoleon famously liked (a woman who hasn’t bathed in 3 weeks (!)) is not likely to attract many sex partners today. At least not if you grew up in the Western world.

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pisceshanna October 3, 2008 at 10:25 am

Well I met my baby’s daddy when I was NOT on any form of birth control, and our baby is one of the healthiest kids out there. Sadly, our relationship was one of the most unhealthy. I guess my hormones were destined to create a single mom out of me.

pisceshanna’s last blog post…Hockey Mom Red vs. Single Parent Blue

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SDMktg October 5, 2008 at 12:38 am

Body chemistry is interesting. I knew a girl in college who wore Coco by Chanel and it smelled amazing. My ex put it on once and it was quite the opposite.

I wear whatever I think smells good on me. If I like it that’s all I care about. Put it on in the morning and forget about it. I’ve never had any complaints. Most women have complimented the way I smell.

SDMktg’s last blog post…Tailgate Party Menu for October 4th and 5th

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