Sex and Vomeronasal Attraction

The vexing question of whether sex pheromones play a role in human sexual attraction raises its ugly head once again, this time in a posting on The Register. Most scientists would say that there is little evidence that humans rely very much on pheromones for sexual attraction directly. However, others scientists suggest that a tiny organ in the nasal cavity, the so-called vomeronasal organ (VNO), or Jacobson’s organ, can detect chemical attractants that pass between people and are not apparent to us at the thinking level. Moreover, anecdotal evidence would point to smell having a very strong effect in sex whether or not we believe it’s pheromonal or not.

The VNO definitely plays a role in the lives of other animals from cats to snakes and from elephants to mice. In humans the organ seemingly all but disappears even before birth, leaving just a few people with a tiny pit in the septum that might have some vestige of pheromonal responsiveness.

Until, we find specific chemicals that trigger sexual attraction when sniffed, in double-blind controlled tests, it is likely that for the foreseeable future there will be no genuine, working product.