Are you the type of person who can’t be in the same room as a woman who reeks of vanilla perfume? Or perhaps you instantly flock to the guy who smells like he just walked out of the forest after days of chopping wood and wearing head-to-toe flannel? While first attraction can be caused by plenty of factors (i.e., beer goggles), you might have heard that pheromones play a role. Here's what you need to know about these semi-mythical love chemicals.
What are pheromones?
Even though there are plenty of fragrance companies trying to sell sexual attraction in a bottle, there's not much known about pheromones in humans. "[Pheromones] were identified in the late 1950s and they are associated with an organ called the vomeronasal organ (VNO) found in dogs, cats, etc., but not in humans after birth," says Dr. Erika Schwartz, a New York-based expert in biohormones. "Without the presence of this organ you cannot be affected by pheromones, although much debate surrounds them."
In non-human animals, pheromones are chemicals that, when received by an animal in the same species, are used to communicate and produce a behavior. Think of them a bit like hormones that work externally -- queen bees, for example, can control entire colonies thanks in part to their pheromones.