Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sweaty relaxation

The following text is thoughts about biological studies of humans and not any male chauvinistic ranting or women liberation speech. So please don't try to find any male vs. female arguments, nor any hidden agenda from this text. It's only a play on thoughts. "What if" scenario, if you will. So if you are male chauvinist, feminist activist, a child or other person who cannot handle a talk about sex as means of reproduction, or cannot play with a thought of evolution, please stop reading here. Also, I do not have answers in this one, only more questions.

There was an article in (requires registration) - Indystar mentions this too. They say the sweat from a male armpit actually relaxes women through the pheromones male secret. This puzzled me. I had believed, like this article in Berkley UC says, that hormones that cause something would have the opposite effect. In male sweat there's androstadienone, which causes arousal, rise of temperature, bloodpressure and heart rate in women. Ok, androstadienone is easy to understand in evolution's point of view. But why something that relaxes?

Scotsman and Live Science back this Berkley UC article, that ovulating women are looking for alpha males who have strong body odor. Makes sense, strong man, strong children. Strong man, protects. Man make fire. Urgh. But what has the smell got to do with it?

There's plenty of weird things in human reproduction. Women have concealed ovulation. Their fertile cycle is about all the time, minus the menstruation period. And both men and women enjoy sex just because of sex - even when there's no possibility to reproduce. As far as I understand evolution, the individual is not important, the survival of the species is. So why sex is fun? All of them either unique or very rare amongst animals. It is said only humans, dolphins and bonobo chimps enjoy sex just as sex.

I'm sure there's a reason for all of this. Firstly, when apes started to walk on two legs, the nose got higher from the ground. (The reasons for two-legged walking I can only speculate, but read Desmond Morris instead. He makes more sense than I do...) When the nose is higher from the ground, you won't be sniffing that many things, so we have either lost a lot of our sense of smelling, or we have lost the ability to interpretate the smells.

This may have caused the lengthening of woman's fertile period, as men cannot "smell" the ovulation like a lot of animals can. Thus making it more possible for reproduction. This may have also contributed to the fact we enjoy sex only because of sex, as men don't "smell the ovulation", cannot detect it, and women have longer fertile period - just to "force" humans to copulate more, thus increasing the possibility of fertilization. This doesn't still explain why women get more relaxed when sniffing man's armpit. It just raises more questions.

Was the fact that we stood up a reason our sense of smell withered? Was that partly the cause for women to have concealed ovulation since there was no need for it due to the impaired sense of smell? Did this cause us to try to reproduce more, e.g. women have longer fertile period and we enjoy sex, or was the long fertile period and enjoyment of sex the cause for concealed ovulation? Or are they related to each other in any way?

The relaxation through the sweat of a man is still puzzling. Could it be just simply to get a woman to relax before reproductive act? Or could it be that it based on hunter-gatherer times, when we had small tribes. When men went to hunt mammoths, there was only few men in the tribe. So other tribes could easily loot and pillage this tribe, or if a sabertooth tiger attacks the tribe, there's not enough men to defend. This causes the rise of the rest of the tribe's stress levels. So when a female goes to sleep when a man is hunting for a mammoth, she needs to keep one eye open in case of pillagers or sabertooth tigers. But when the men return, and the next night she's sleeping next to a man and smells the sweat, she knows she's more secure and sleeps better. Could this be it, or is this way too far fetched?

And if it is so, how much does the smells affect us? Giving a sniff of feline urine to a rodent makes the rodent to panic. Do we have such extreme effects from different smells? Have we only learned to fight against and/or to control the instincts/urges we have from smells or have we lost the ability to process the information efficiently? Are we still affected by the odors in our normal life, or is this "change by smell" only present in intime relationships where you are close enough to each other?

I have to take a shower now.

1 comment:

Don KeyShot said...

The feline pee would make anyone panic - it is simply not pleasant (as
any other pee would be, I believe, but especially not feline).

As for the "relaxing armpit smell", I cannot be sure, but I know mine
can become "marijuanish" if i give it enough time without bathing...
And I've heard marijuana can have that effect.

No matter how estimulating it can be (according to scientists), I prefer
a woman coming out of the bath (or in it) rather than one in need of