We hear all sorts of things about pheromones, especially when talking about the opposite sex. However it doesn't just effect the behaviour between men and women, but people in general. The technical term for pheromones is according to Miller-Keane Medical Dictionary is "a substance secreted to the outside of the body and perceived (as by smell) by other individuals of the same species, releasing specific behaviour in the percipient"

Now to me, that makes us sound a little like animals. And I suppose when it comes down to it, we are a little like animals, especially the way we hunt for a partner. Have you ever met the most drop-dead gorgeous guy, somehow got him to ask you out for dinner, meanwhile thinking how lucky you were? Once at dinner with this divine looking man, slowly as the night progressed, you somehow found him less and less attractive? I bet you thought it was due to the boring conversation. But, it could have been due to something much deeper than this, his pheromones! As you were talking you may have subconsciously got a whiff of his silent pheromones, and somewhere in the primal part of your brain, may have thought "no, I really don't find your pheromones to be compatible with mine, so I think I might tune out to your conversation." So maybe it's his pheromones that you find boring, and not him, (however, this is just my theory).

Then there's the 'surprise date'. This is the date you painfully go on, because at the time you couldn't think of a plausible excuse to decline, and thought, "oh no, I really don't like the look of this guy." But surprise, surprise, as you ate, he became more and more appealing, and by the end of the night you're in his arms thinking "oh my god, may be he is the one?!" Perhaps your 'pheromones have fallen in love?' Well that's all food for thought, or should it be smell for thought?

There is actually some evidence behind this silent smell. A pheromone is a hormone-derived messenger, which not only influences sexual behaviour, but behaviour in general. Maybe that's why often you meet someone, and although they appear polite and welcoming, you just can't stand them? It may be that you are having a 'conflict of pheromones'.

Now, if you've ever been to boarding school, or have a sister, or a friend you've spent a lot of time around - have you ever noticed that after a while you both start getting your periods at the same time? If one of you realises this, I'm sure you both think it's because your friendship is so special that that it's some kind of magic power you share together. Well sorry to disappoint you, but it's those pheromones. If you are around the same female all the time, you are both inhaling each other's pheromones. Both you and your friend's body's are picking up on this scent, and have decided that they will menstruate at the same time.

So what produces them?

It is a hormone derived messenger which effects sexual behaviour/s. Pheromones influence what is called the Gonadotrophin - Releasing Hormone (GnRH). This hormone is responsible for many sexual responses in the body, from when a female commences menstruation, to when she ovulates, to who we are attracted to. GnRH is produced in the pituitary gland (a very primal part of the brain). The effects of this hormone filter its way down through the body via hormonal responses affecting the adrenal glands, testes and ovaries. It's your adrenal glands that give you that 'stomach drop' when you are with a guy you like, so you can see how this works.

I'd just like to add; that male moths (yes those things that fly around at night) can be driven crazy by the chemical smell of a female moth that is two miles away. I thought I would add that to contrast the fact that we think we are superior beings, when our sexual behaviour is not far from that of a moth. Now that's something to ponder on.

- Louise Ganey (RN)