Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Women’s scent has mind control properties

Posted in news by jenapincott on January 10, 2009

bxp68578I was shocked by the overwhelming response (nearly 60,000 views!) to my post, “Semen has mind control properties.” Many readers said they think it’s a fascinating idea — that there are proteins and/or hormones in semen that subtly affect a woman’s sexual behavior. But what “secret weapons” do women have to “control” men?

I have a few responses, which are detailed in my book.

1. Women are (generally) the choosier sex. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re pickier about our sexual partners because we have more at stake in the event of a pregnancy. Everywhere around the world, even in the most egalitarian countries, women desire fewer lovers than men do. Although women make trade-offs depending on their circumstances, we’re more about quality (even for flings). This by default gives women a sort of upper hand.

Now the sexier stuff:

2. Chemicals released during sex affect men, too. When he orgasms, his body releases vasopressin, a neurohormone associated with bonding (and drowsiness — it’s one reason why men fall into contented postcoital slumbers). This means that sexual intimacy may make a guy more attached to his lover. How likely is this? Intriguingly, a lot may have to do with his particular vasopressin receptor genes.

3. A woman’s scent may have mind control properties. Guys tend to prefer a woman’s body odor around the time she’s most likely to conceive (as described in BLONDES). On a subconscious level, men have been found to behave differently around this time of a woman’s cycle. According to studies such as this one at UCLA, women report that their partners are more jealous, loving, possessive, and attentive when women have high levels of luteinzing hormone in their system, a sign of imminent ovulation. In the famous stripper study, johns were also much more generous — paying up to twice as much — when the strippers were fertile. Scientists speculate that men are unwittingly responding to estrogen-related properties in women’s sweat and other bodily fluids. Men, meanwhile, are oblivious to why they’re acting so servile.

Bottom line is that there are no doubt many hormonal signals that give either men or women the reproductive upper hand. We’re all either sperm-zombied or pussy-whipped — that’s what some readers have quipped. But a sweeter way of looking at it is that these neurohormones also help give rise to love and long-term attachment. Not to say that chemistry could or should ever define love, but it does help explain some bonds.

4 Responses

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  1. Pickupfreak said, on January 11, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Geoffrey Miller won an Ig Nobel Prize (nobel prize parody) for his stripper research. It’s a bit silly to call it ‘mind control’ since it seems that both men and women are being mind controlled, how can you say who is in control and who isn’t. Does a man’s scent have mind control properties I wonder?

  2. judy said, on January 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    yes, the subject is fascinating, but your writing carries the day. … just a little encouragement for those inevitable moments of blog fatigue.

    • jenapincott said, on January 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks so much for the boost!

  3. […] blog has two great posts on sex:  Semen Has Mind Control Properties and the follow-up, Women’s Scent Has Mind Control Properties.  Here’s her wonderful conclusion… Bottom line is that there are no doubt many […]


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