Science can be sexy. It can be downright stimulating, a Pennsylvania researcher reports.
Winnifred Cutler and her colleagues have synthesized a human hormone substance that she hopes will make it a little easier for men to attract women.
The chemical is a copy of the human pheromone - a chemical found in sweat. Like all animal pheromones, it is believed to stimulate response from the opposite sex.
And predictably, Cutler's research-oriented Athena Institute for Women's Wellness, Haverford, Pa., has put the secret mixture on the market - at $99.50 a vial, by mail order.
The odorless substance appeared to work in a small experiment reported for the first time yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Seattle.
In the study, 38 men were asked to add a tiny amount of liquid to their after-shave. Some men received an alcohol-and-pheromone mixture; some got straight alcohol.
No one, not even the scientists, knew what each received until after the test period. The men were told only that they were "testing a pheromone designed to improve the romance in their lives."
The researchers asked the men, to keep track of several activities associated with their sex lives, to be compared with what they had reported before.
The pheromone users - 17 in all - turned out to be busier, sexually, than the 21 who got the straight alcohol, or placebo:
-- Forty-seven percent of the pheromone users reported they had sexual intercourse more often than usual. But only 9.5 percent of the placebo users did.
-- Thirty-five percent of the pheromone group said they slept with a woman more often, compared with 5 percent of the placebo users.
-- Forty-one percent said they engaged in kissing and petting more often, compared with only 14 percent of the placebo users.
-- Thirty-five percent of the pheromone group said they went out on informal dates more often, compared with 9.5 percent of placebo users.
Cutler and her colleagues concluded that "human pheromones caused a statistically significant and distinct increase, in those romantic behaviors in which a woman plays a major role . . . Thus, human pheromones affect the sexual attractiveness of men to women."
No one knows for sure how pheromones work. Scientists believe they may stimulate nerve cells in the back of the nose linked to sexual response.
Cutler's research was reviewed by other scientists before it was approved for presentation at the conference. It is now being reviewed for publication in a scientific journal, she said.
The institute put out a similar product for women several years ago. More than $1 million worth was sold in the first eight months, an institute official said.