Alex Steelsmith
Sex-Messaging: The Aphrodisiac Potential of Your Secret Scents
From pages 171-174 of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman's Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine (published by Hay House)

Your nose serves as a kind of sexual sextant-a finely tuned instrument for navigating your erotic environment-and gathers far more information than scientists once believed possible. The study of human pheromones is still in its infancy; there's much we don't know, and much to discover. The current state of research can perhaps be summed up by saying no one knows what your nose knows. But there's been some fascinating research in recent years. Whether you emit pheromones in the same sense as some animals do, and precisely what sexual signals you send and detect, isn't yet entirely clear. However, it would be difficult to imagine a more fantastic (and potentially romantic) picture than the one that seems to be emerging from the world of biological research on human pheromones. The following is an interpretive overview.

You have an invisible "scent cloud" emanating from your body at all times, released from your breath and perspiration on your skin, drifting through the air around you like an aura. These scents are believed to be produced mainly in special glands concentrated in your underarms, genitals, anus, chest, abdomen, breasts, and naval. Your scents contain important chemical signals-personal information about you that's instantly detected by anyone you meet, allowing that person to "perceive" your scent-essence. At the same time, it's a two-way exchange; you're simultaneously picking up on similar personal information about the other individual.

"What we call love at first sight may often be a matter of love at first scent."

But there's a delightful catch: neither of you is conscious of all the information you detect; much of it is perceived subliminally rather than through your normal sense of smell. In a sense, you're using a subtle form of communication hidden from both of you (which is why we use the term secret scents), yet it can affect your individual moods and behaviors. It may cause each of you to have intuitions about the other-you may feel attracted, repelled, or indifferent-without any conscious awareness of what's passing between you. This may go a long way toward explaining the proverbial "woman's intuition," or the "sixth sense." And what we call love at first sight may often be a matter of love at first scent.

Further complicating this marvelous picture, your secret scents are uniquely blended with your body's other natural scents-the ones you are conscious of-because the two are released in unison. For example, a man's secret scents are typically released in conjunction with a consciously recognizable, musky "male" scent. Thus, you and the other person each have a distinct "scent print" or "scent identity" that announces who you are to the world.

Your secret scents may affect the men in your life in more ways than are currently known. During your teenage years, your body begins sending secret sexual scents into your environment. The ones you release as a woman are distinct from those emitted by men, and each gender reacts differently to the secret sexual signals from the opposite sex. Research indicates that your secret sexual scents can cause a rise in the production of a man's hormones, which may have direct effects on his body, such as increased rate of facial-hair growth. And when you ovulate, you emit secret scents that are especially attractive to men.

By the same token, over the course of your life you're affected in countless ways by men's secret sexual scents. Research suggests that girls consistently in the presence of male sexual scents may enter puberty sooner than other girls. Not only can a man's secret scents attract you and enhance your sexual arousal, but they have the greatest effects when you're ovulating; if you're exposed to a man's secret scents combined with a musky scent, it can cause you to do so sooner than you might otherwise. If you're in the presence of a man's secret sexual scents on a regular basis, the length of your menstrual cycles may be shorter and more consistent.

Research shows that your secret sexual scents also affect other women. It appears that they can cause a phenomenon you may have experienced-the synchronization of menstrual cycles in women who spend lots of time together. Surprisingly, if you're in the presence of other women's secret scents for a period of three to four months, it may significantly increase your likelihood of sexual activity with men (more than a sixfold increase, according to one study).

You can think of your secret sexual scents as your "personal" aphrodisiacs; their sex-enhancing power is specific to you, because your scent print is as unique as your fingerprint. Since secret scents are so individualistic, human-pheromone products that purport to enhance sexuality seem limited in their potential. There's no shortage of fragrances and other products on the market-and claims that they'll make you irresistible-but evidence for their effectiveness is often all too scanty. Some contain pheromone-like chemicals synthesized in laboratories and patented. Manufacturers sometimes don't disclose ingredients, making it impossible to assess if they're natural or have the potential to cause side effects or allergies.

The beauty of your secret sexual scents is that you can't prevent their release or mask them with scents that are consciously recognized by your normal sense of smell. They're detectable regardless of perfumes and colognes-no matter how pleasant or striking-or any unpleasant body odor. All you can do is be yourself and let their hidden magic happen. You may increase their effects by avoiding unnecessary antiperspirants, or (when possible) wearing garments that don't cover your underarms or abdomen. And since the consciously recognizable portion of your scents is part of your scent print, you might want to minimize deodorants-an easy way to keep your natural essence readily detectable to your partner's "extrasensual perception."

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