Men may be able to smell when a woman is “turned on”, research suggests.
Scientists from the University of Kent had a group of men sniff sweat samples from women who were both aroused and “not in the mood”.
Not only were the men able to detect the aroused odours, they also found these scents more attractive, boosting their own libido.
The scientists believe males may have evolved this “sense” to detect a woman’s sexual interest.
“The [results] suggest men are sensitive to the olfactory signals of sexual arousal released by women,” said lead author Dr Arnaud Wisman.
“This research suggests these signals released along with corresponding visual and auditory expressions of sexual interest can produce a stronger overall signal that increases sexual motivation.
“Sexual interest may entail more than meets the eye and we hope the current findings encourage further research to examine the role of sexual olfactory signals in human communication.”
Previous research suggests humans can communicate feelings of fear or sadness via “chemosignals”.
Arousal has “hallmarks of an emotion”, including being short-lived, “motivational” and triggered by a “stimuli”.
The scientists set out to uncover whether being “turned on” changes a woman’s odour and the impact it has on the “receiver”.
In the first of three experiments, 24 men were exposed to sweat collected from the armpits of 11 women after watching a “neutral video” or the 2004 erotic cult film 9 Songs.
The men reported how intense, pleasant and sexy they found the odours.
Results, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, suggest they found the “aroused scents” significantly more attractive.
This prompted the scientists to carry out two more experiments.
In the first, six women had sweat samples collected after watching the same videos as before.
When asked how they felt after sniffing these scents, 32 men reported finding the “aroused samples” a bigger turn on.
Going on the theory arousal “amplifies sexual motivation”, seven women had sweat samples collected after watching clips from films like Magic Mike or 50 Shades of Grey.
Some 35 men were then exposed to images of women dressed scantily, posing productively or in a neutral stance.
The results revealed that after sniffing an aroused woman’s sweat sample, the men spent longer looking at the images of those in provocative states.
They also reported a “greater motivation to mate with the promiscuous targets”, but not the women in a neutral position.
“Consistent with the growing evidence that emotional states can be communicated through scent, our findings provide evidence that humans can signal and process olfactory signals of sexual arousal,” the scientists wrote.