The Science Behind Pheromones, Scent, and Sexual Attraction 

If we stripped away our material possessions, our clothes, and all the things we surround ourselves with, what is left? Evolution tells us that at one point in time, we were connected to the earth and our instincts in order to survive. Pheromones, for instance, are chemicals that give us a sense of subconscious smell. These chemicals help us naturally connect with those around us, especially in terms of our sexual attraction to others. 

Pheromones are basically the chemicals that fuel biological attraction, and subsequently—sexual attraction.
— Dr. Mike Anderson, Ph.D

“Simply put, pheromones are odorless chemicals released by the body…” explains Dr. Mike Anderson, Ph.D. in Human Sexuality. “From an evolutionary standpoint, pheromones are what tell us who we should mate with…It sounds quite unromantic, but pheromones are basically the chemicals that fuel biological attraction, and subsequently—sexual attraction.” 

Some studies even show that those of us who menstruate experience pheromones differently throughout the phases of our cycle. Have you ever noticed when you’re menstruating and can smell everything more vividly? Or how, when ovulating, your partner’s scent is extra distinct? This is an example of pheromones at work.

No matter the sexual or platonic attraction, pheromones can be an important detection for connection with others. They’re like our own natural perfume, perfectly suited for us. Of course, many factors determine how and who we connect with, but it’s fascinating to consider biological secretion and the role it plays in our relationships. 

When my now-husband and I first started dating…I had never experienced getting such a rush of attraction from a person’s natural smell before.

I remember when my now-husband and I first started dating, when we would hug, I could smell his beard and loved it; I had never experienced getting such a rush of attraction from a person’s natural smell before. Now that we are married, I can’t help but credit pheromones (in part) for bringing us together. My instincts told me he was my person, just by the way he smelled. 

4 Ways to Naturally Increase Pheromones 

This concept has come up for me often during social distancing as well. Since I’m not wearing perfume, I’ve been appreciating my natural and beautiful scent, along with my partner’s.

As a way to connect with yourself and those around us, practice noticing what smells you find attractive or not. Consider trying pheromone-increasing foods and see if the sexual attraction is heightened. If you menstruate, notice how your sense of smell changes at different phases of a cycle. For those in a relationship, get curious about how your partner smells. Practice communicating what it is about their natural scent you like.

1. Exercise Regularly

Sweating secretes sex pheromone levels. Androstadienone, for instance, is a testosterone-derived pheromone found in human sweat. 

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

A lack of sleep can cause a dip in pheromones because hormone levels become imbalanced. This study looks at how a lack of sleep can negatively impact arousal. 

3. Eat Pheromone-Increasing Foods

Celery, parsnips, and truffles contain androstenone and androstenol, which are naturally found in human pheromones.

4. Abstinence From Sex and Masturbation

Increase pheromone levels by allowing your body to “recharge” its hormones. When you haven’t orgasmed for some time, testosterone and estrogen levels increase, which affects the production of pheromones. 

Were you familiar with pheromones? How do you embrace and honor yours? Share in the comments below!


Courtney Jay is a writer at The Good Trade. She is also a yoga instructor, health enthusiast, and sustainable fashion advocate. She believes the most powerful way to nurture the planet is to nurture ourselves. You can find more of her writing and take one of her online yoga classes on her website Coincide.