Immunity and Sexual Attraction - The Power of Pheromones

Immunity and Sexual Attraction - The Power of Pheromones
You’ve probably thought to yourself before, “that couple has amazing chemistry,” or maybe you’ve experienced this level of attraction yourself. Did you know that the sense of smell may be the secret behind every love story?
Attraction between potential mates is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors, ranging from physical appearance to personality traits. Pheromones play a significant role in inter-individual communication and have long been associated with attraction. Interestingly, recent studies have suggested that women are often more attracted to men with an opposite immune system to themselves. In this article, we will explore the intriguing relationship between pheromones, immunity, and attraction, while addressing the question of whether having a stronger immune system affects this phenomenon.
Pheromones are chemical substances released by organisms to communicate with others of the same species. In the context of attraction, pheromones can trigger subconscious responses and influence mate selection [1]. Humans, like many other animals, possess a specialized sensory system called the vomeronasal organ (VNO), which detects and processes pheromone signals.

Pheromones can serve many purposes, such as attracting mates, marking territories, signaling alarm or danger, coordinating social interactions, and facilitating parent-offspring bonding. In the context of attraction, pheromones can play a role in the subconscious communication between potential mates. They can influence physiological and psychological responses, including sexual arousal, mood, and social bonding.

How Does Immunity Affect Pheromones?

The immune system is believed to influence an individual's body odor, which in turn can impact pheromone production and perception. A stronger immune system is generally associated with good health and vitality. These traits can manifest in physical indicators, such as clear skin, shiny hair, and an overall vibrant appearance, which can contribute to an individual's attractiveness. Additionally, a stronger immune system may result in better body odor, which can influence the perception of attractiveness.

Additionally, it is believed that the immune system plays a role in detecting and responding to the pheromones emitted by others. Immune cells and receptors, including those associated with the major histocompatibility complex, are present in sensory organs like the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and may contribute to the detection and interpretation of pheromonal signals.

Research is still evolving in this area and more studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions. However, some findings suggest that individuals with robust immune systems may emit pheromones that are more attractive to potential mates [2]. In some non-human studies, those with a challenged immune system had difficulty in attracting mates [3].

Does the Pill Change Who You Find Attractive?

Some studies suggest that using birth control pills might influence a woman's pheromones and subsequently affect who is attractive to her as a mate. Birth control pills work by altering hormone levels in a woman's body, primarily by suppressing ovulation and altering the menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes can have implications for pheromone production and perception, which in turn may influence attraction [4]. Plus, alterations in hormone levels caused by birth control pills can affect other aspects of attraction as well. For instance, some women may experience changes in their sexual desire or preferences while using hormonal contraceptives, which can influence their attraction to a partner.

Research suggests that women on hormonal contraceptives may experience changes in their scent preferences and attraction to potential partners. For example, women using hormonal contraceptives often display a preference for men with more similar MHC profiles, whereas women not using hormonal contraceptives tend to prefer men with dissimilar MHC profiles [5]. These findings suggest that birth control pills could potentially impact the mechanisms related to mate choice based on immune system compatibility.

Opposites Attract

The concept of women being attracted to men with an opposite immune system is based on the hypothesis known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) theory. The MHC is a set of genes responsible for immune system functioning.

Research has indicated that women tend to prefer the scent of men who have different MHC genes from their own [6]. This preference suggests that there may be an evolutionary advantage to choosing partners with dissimilar immune system profiles. According to the MHC theory, individuals with dissimilar MHC profiles have a better chance of producing offspring with a stronger and more diverse immune system, thus increasing the chances of survival. While MHC is not the sole determinant of long-term relationship success (factors such as personality, shared values, and emotional connection also play crucial roles), it may influence initial attraction to potential mates.

Evidence also suggests that female sexual preferences change across the menstrual cycle, becoming stronger toward “dominant” men during peak fertility. On the other hand, women at low fertility or on birth control demonstrated no particular preference in attraction [7].

Immunity, Pheromones, and Love

People love to learn about love, and pheromones and immunity play intriguing roles in attraction and mate selection. The importance of a healthy immune system cannot be overstated when looking at its influence on producing a more appealing scent, indirectly influencing attractiveness.

It's never too late to start building up your immunity for better health, vitality - and improved scent attraction is a definite plus!