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Study: Male sweat brightens women's moods

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- Sweating it out over a big date this weekend? If you're a guy, that could be just the ticket, according to a human biology study released by the University of Pennsylvania.

Biologists said they found male perspiration had a surprisingly beneficial effect on women's moods. It helps reduce stress, induces relaxation and even affects the menstrual cycle.

"This suggests there may be much more going on in social settings like singles' bars than meets the eye," said Charles Wysocki, an adjunct professor of animal biology at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine.

In a study to be published in the journal Biology of Reproduction, researchers collected samples from the underarms of men who refrained from using deodorant for four weeks. The extracts were then blended and applied to the upper lips of 18 women, aged 25 to 45.

The women rated their moods on a fixed scale for a period of six hours. The findings suggested something in the perspiration brightened their moods and helped them feel less tense. Blood analyses also showed a rise in levels of the reproductive luteinizing hormone that typically surge before ovulation.

Wysocki, a study co-author, said the research could point to a "chemical communication" subtext between the sexes that enables men and women to coordinate their reproductive efforts subliminally.

There was no sign women were sexually aroused by male perspiration. In fact, the women never suspected they had men's sweat under their noses and believed they were helping to test alcohol, perfume or lemon floor wax.

"The study was done in quite a sterile environment. It's not strange that they were not thinking sexual thoughts," said Wysocki. "In a more sensual setting, exposure to these odors might facilitate the emergence of sexual mood or feelings."

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers said the study could lead to new fertility therapies and treatments for premenstrual syndrome if the active agent in male perspiration could be isolated.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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