What is the current consensus on whether or not humans have receptors that detect pheromones?

If there are purported receptors, in what anatomical areas are they located? With what organ systems do they interact?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It would be the vomeronasal organ... I'm no expert in human brain anatomy, but I think there is a bit of a controversy on whether a functional one exists in humans... $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Dec 15, 2011 at 6:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think it is perfume industry that knows the ultimate answer. Although some smells are sexy and attractive, there is no human pheromone as far as I remember reading (and smelling). $\endgroup$
    – Andrei
    Dec 23, 2011 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ From reading popular science articles on the matter, it appears to be vestigal (measurable in careful studies, but swamped by other factors when looking at how it affects the relevant behaviors) $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2012 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ It's my personal hypothesis that pheromone receptors (wherever else they exist) also exist on the sides of the part of the nose directly between the nostrils, as well as in the ears. But I have no proof of that for you! $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2020 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


From what I have gathered, I would think that humans do have receptors that are able to detect pheromones.

For example, some studies that have indicated human responses to pheromones. Of these pheromone responses, some have been traced to the olfactory mucosa and olfactory epithelium.

The trace amine-associated receptors (TAAR) for which humans have 7 genes (TAAR1, TAAR2, TAAR3, TAAR5, TAAR6, TAAR8, TAAR9) and 2 pseudogenes (TAAR4P, TAAR7P) are found in the olfactory epithelium whereas androstadienone receptors are found in the olfactory mucosa. As suggested by the anatomical location, these receptors interact with the human sense of smell and the olfactory system

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromone#Humans

  • $\begingroup$ Do you know of any specific studies on the matter? $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Dec 15, 2011 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ You could take a look at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9515961 $\endgroup$
    – arcyqwerty
    Dec 15, 2011 at 7:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While the result of the study you cite is compelling, my understanding is that the pheromone(s) and receptor(s) mediating that response have yet to be identified. As such, the jury is still out as to whether the menstrual cycle effect is really due to a pheromone response. Also, although it is true that we have TAARs, they may not be used as pheromone receptors in humans. I do not think that there is a consensus as to whether human pheromones exist. $\endgroup$
    – yamad
    Dec 15, 2011 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ I think that this is the most accurate information that we currently have available. As this is a science, it can be expected that results will change as new discoveries are made and old discoveries are disproven. As far as I know, there currently isn't much evidence disproving the theory and at least some that suggests human pheromone existence, so controversy at the moment is more doubt in limited evidence than two contradicting theories $\endgroup$
    – arcyqwerty
    Dec 15, 2011 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @arcyqwerty: The major evidence against human pheromone reception is that humans anatomically lack the accessory olfactory system (vomeronasal organ, etc.) that is used by other animals to detect pheromones. Is that strong evidence? That's up for debate, but I don't think either side has much stronger evidence. For what it's worth, I am inclined to believe that there are human pheromones. But that is bald opinion. The question asked for current consensus, and I stand by the statement that there is none. $\endgroup$
    – yamad
    Dec 16, 2011 at 16:05

Well... I'm excited that my first contribution to this site will include a study of strippers!


I have read other, more detailed analysis of this (and similar) research that suggests strongly that our noses are heavily involved in all sorts of entirely sub-conscious decision making, as it pertains specifically to sexual selection.

  • $\begingroup$ A blind test of tshirt scents alledged that people prefer tshirts with complementing immune systems for reproduction. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 3:20

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