ah, the sweet smell of man sweat

Male armpit sweat seems to be a mood-altering substance for women, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Not only does it make women more relaxed and happy, but it also can affect the length and timing of their menstrual cycles. The researchers took underarm secretions from male volunteers and applied them to the upper lip of 18 women ages 25 to 45. During their exposure to the compound, the women were asked to rate their mood. The majority of women reported feeling less tense and more relaxed. Further testing revealed a shift in blood levels of luteinizing hormone, a reproductive hormone that surges right before ovulation. The researchers believe that the effects arise from exposure to male pheromones, or chemical signals, produced in the underarm. The results of the study, which will be published in the June issue of Biology of Reproduction, can be found on the journal’s website. The power of male foot sweat to clear a room has yet to be tested.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 3/25/2003.
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