Saturday, December 06, 2008

Scent, Birth Control and Women's Taste in Men

I believe that Tom Robbins writes in one of his books that love is 85% smell. I have always believed that scent plays a powerful role in attraction. A recent study reported by Scientific American suggests that birth control may effect a woman's sense of smell and the type of men they are attracted to.

An excerpt:
This year 2.25 million Americans will get married—and a million will get divorced. Could birth control be to blame for some of these breakups? Recent research suggests that the contraceptive pill—which prevents women from ovulating by fooling their body into believing it is pregnant—could affect which types of men women desire. Going on or off the pill during a relationship, therefore, may tempt a woman away from her man.

Studies suggest that females prefer the scent of males whose MHC genes differ from their own, a preference that has probably evolved because it helps offspring survive: couples with different MHC genes are less likely to be related to each other than couples with similar genes are, and their children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems.

A study published in August in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, however, suggests that women on the pill undergo a shift in preference toward men who share similar MHC genes. The female subjects were more likely to rate these genetically similar men’s scents (via a T-shirt the men had worn for two nights) as pleasant and desirable after they went on the pill as compared with before.

Scientific American: Birth Control Pills Affect Women's Taste in Men


Bob Ichter said...

The Tom Robbins book is " Still life with woodpecker", one of my favorite books of all time....and it has my absolute favorite jacket blurb [ or synopsis paragraph on the back of a paperback....

Still Life with Woodpecker is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that include powerful Arabs, exiled royalty and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.

Thomas Sherman said...


I have been trying to track down that quote for years!

Thnaks brother, will have to pick that one up, I don't think Ive never read it.



Anonymous said...

Jitterbug Perfume was one of my fave Tome Robbins... it's all about scent and immortality. --Cynthia

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Tom Robbins is one of my favorite writers. He has a very interesting love theory. He believes people get attracted by their smell which I think is true in a way.

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The problem with things like this is that, yet again, women are reduced to some set of hormonal impulses that guide our existence. We're not able to make choices about our lives or our bodies, and are just at the mercy of our body chemistry and how things that gave us the reproductive freedom enjoyed by men "negatively" affect us.

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