March 18, 2003

"The scent of a man may make women feel better, researchers say," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday in what I would have thought was a restatement of the obvious, but, hey, that's just me. ("Study: Male Sweat May Affect Women," by Aparna Surendran, March 17, 2003.)

According to the Inquirer's report:

A study suggests that chemicals found in male underarm sweat may cause women to be more relaxed. The chemicals may also affect the timing and length of menstrual cycles.

The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, looked at 18 women…tested over a 12-hour period.

For one six-hour period, extracts from male underarms were applied to the women's upper lips. For a second six hours, ethanol, as a control, was applied. Both the sweat and the ethanol were mixed with the same fragrance so the women could not tell the difference....

When sweat was applied, blood tests showed a quicker onset of luteinizing hormone, or LH, a regulator of the menstrual cycle....When sweat was applied, the average time till the next LH pulse was 12 minutes shorter than in the control.

In addition to the endocrine effects, the women also had differences in mood. Based on a questionnaire the women filled out after each administration of sweat or ethanol, researchers determined that the majority of the women were more relaxed and less tense when exposed to sweat.

It's clear this was a very scientific experiment:

The underarm sweat extracts came from men who bathed with fragrance-free soap and did not use deodorant for four weeks.

Just a bunch of everyday guys signed up, apparently. Or maybe just my core group of friends.


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