In the News
Your Nose Knows
Pill and perfume could thwart search for mate
According to international research, the oral contraceptive pill and artificial perfumes can affect a woman’s innate ability to sniff out a suitable partner. And that increases your chances of divorce and fertility problems, a Psychology Today magazine article says.
It highlights various studies that found women’s olfactory abilities help them select a man with an immune system different enough to theirs, which is important for producing healthy offspring.
Claus Wedekind, a biologist at Switzerland’s Lausanne University, arranged for 44 men to wear new T-shirts for a few days then asked 49 women to sniff the clothing and pick the most attractive smell. They preferred the smell of shirts worn by men with different immune system genes.
But women on birth-control pills preferred scent most similar to their immune system profile.
Psychologist Rachel Herz, author of The Scent of Desire, says contraceptive pill-users picking mates with similar immune- system genes could affect their relationship’s long-term survival because they’re the wrong match and even reduce their ability to have children.
“It’s like picking your cousins as marriage partners,” she says.
She recommends using other forms of birth control if seeking a life partner.
Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at New Mexico University, found that the pill isn’t the only problem affecting sexual chemistry.
Fragrances and other artificial scents, such as soaps and aftershave, can confuse our noses, he says.
Thankfully, sexual signalling relies on women’s ability to whiff a good romance: studies back up their superior sniffing powers.
“Scent can be a deal-breaker if it’s not right, just like someone being too stupid or unkind or short,” he says.
Source: Sunday Star – Times; Wellington, New Zealand