Pheromones popularly known as behavior-altering agents are chemicals produced by humans and animals that change the behavior of other animals of the same species. Unlike other hormones which affect the individuals producing them, pheromones are ectohormones – hormones that can act outside the body of the animal producing them by affecting the behavior of another animal, specifically of the same species. However, most people are not aware that pheromones can trigger other behaviors in the animals belonging to the same species apart from sexual behaviors.
Types of pheromones
They are of four types namely:
Releaser pheromones: these are pheromones that trigger immediate, rapid and reliable response. They are usually linked with sexual attraction
Primer pheromones: these take some time to elicit a response. They affect development and reproduction physiology such as menstruation cycle in females, the success or failure of pregnancies as well as puberty. They also alter hormone levels.
Signaler pheromones: they give information and can help a mother to identify her newborn through scent. They provide genetic odor print.
Modulator pheromones: they can either synchronize or alter body functions such as menstruation cycle in females. They are usually found in sweat
Functions of pheromones
They trigger some behaviors including:
-Following a food trail
-Arouse sexual feelings
-Epideictic pheromones alert other female insects that it’s time to lay eggs
-To respect or protect a territory
-Bonding a mother and a baby
-To back off enemies
Human Pheromones: are they a fact or a fiction?
Ever since 1953 when it’s believed that they were discovered, researchers have discovered these chemicals in non-human creatures. Additionally, researchers together with perfumes making companies have, over the past half a century sought to find the existence of pheromone in humans. They have elusively found that humans produce odorous secretions especially through sweat glands in the genital areas, underarm, and nipples. However, there is no adequate evidence to prove that these secretions contain or are human pheromones.
Available evidence of human pheromones existence
Several studies have suggested the existence of pheromonal qualities that occurs in human secretions and therefore concluding that humans produce them.
In one research that included a lab test, tears collected from women who watched a sorrowful movie were placed in, unidentified fluid under a man’s nose. The researchers hypothesized that these tears would trigger a sympathetic response from the man. However, men reported that they experienced lower levels of being sexually aroused.
In another study, 16 men and 13 women were requested to smell given T-shirts and then identify the gender of the person who had worn that same T-shirt. A high percentage of both groups were able to accurately identify who had worn the cloth based on the scent of T-shirt alone.
A research by University of Chicago researcher has suggested that menstrual cycles of roommates and friends can synchronize of time. Such a synchronization is believed to occur as a result of one female in the group secreting an alpha-pheromone.
A recent study carried out in January 2016 has shown that AND (16-androstadien-3-one) caused swelling especially in the erectile tissues of the women noses. This was used as evidence that AND is likely to be a pheromone in humans.
-They are hormones that work outside the body of the animal producing them
-They trigger behaviors in other animals of the same species as the ones producing them
-There is little evidence to prove their existence in humans despite some studies linking them with certain chemicals
-Virtually, all insects are believed to use them for communication