The Scent of a Woman – Not as Important as Once Thought

It is a good story – given sweaty t-shirts, women sniff out those men whose HLA (human leucocyte antigen) type is convivial to reproduction.[1] However, it does not appear to be true for men sniffing the odours of women – at least according to a careful study of HLA-linked olfactory preferences for odours gathered just before ovulation.[2] Men readily differentiated between odours they preferred or disliked, but these preferences did not correlate with HLA types.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director

References:

  1. Wedekind C, Seebeck T, Bettens F, Paepke AJ. MHC-dependent preferences in humans. Proc Biol Sci. 1995; 260 (1359): 245–49.
  2. Probst F, Fischbacher U, Lobmaier JS, Wirthmüller U, Knoch D. Men’s preferences for women’s body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen. Prof R Soc B. 2017; 384: 20171830.
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