Women are suckers for smelly armpits

But only at certain times of the month, guys.

By Jack Boulware
Published April 17, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Ugly men, historically, have worked a little harder to attract the opposite sex, whether it be by amassing great wealth and taking over entire countries, or picking up a guitar and insisting on becoming a rock star.

Whatever an ugly man's methods to woo the ladies, the primary obstacle here, as always, is still the ugliness. But now, dog-faced men can increase their sex appeal without wealth, surgery or exercise. According to a British survey, all they have to do to get the girls is wear tank tops and show off their sweaty armpits.

A study released last week at a University of Northumbria conference confirms that women find ugly men more attractive if they can smell the natural pheromones emanating from a man's armpit.

While this doesn't give guys permission to toss away the deodorant and start presenting their underarms to every girl they see walking down the street, it does reinforce the growing evidence that, in both humans and animals, such chemicals play a subtle role in sexual attraction. (For instance, Swedish research shows that men are more attracted to women if they are exposed to female pheromones.)

The British study also revealed that women were particularly susceptible to underarm pheromones if they were not taking the oral contraceptive pill and were in the middle of their menstrual cycle. In other words, women on the pill could be missing out on the exciting allure of an ugly man's pits.

But don't get too carried away just yet, guys. Psychologist Nick Neave, who led the study, warns that while women can indeed be attracted by the smell of male sweat during the menstrual cycle, most of the time a hairy, stinky armpit is just a hairy, stinky armpit.

"If men use body odor as a strategy," cautions Neave, "they are going to lose out ... While some studies have shown that women can find the smell of sweat attractive at some points during the menstrual cycle, most of the time it is regarded as offensive."

Some would consider the entire concept of conducting an armpit-sniffing study as offensive, but scientists need to have something to do. Who knows, maybe they get off on it.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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