The Difference Between Pheromones and Hormones


Pheromones can be secreted to trigger many types of behaviors...

There’s a misconception that a pheromone is a type of hormone. It is true that both hormones and pheromones are signaling chemicals in the brains of animals. You can say they are messengers of signals for hunger, thirst, fight or flight and desire. Hormones are all these and some often see pheromones are hormones with fragrance.

This is incorrect.

Pheromones are actually odorless. They are chemical messengers and do not even “smell”. Hormones work inside the body. They are secreted in response to stimuli (hunger, fear, stressful situations, excitement, etc) and their effects are within the body and on specific organs too (for example when you are hungry, hormones are sent to the brain to signal hunger and you will notice your stomach churning and saliva production in your mouth increases).

Pheromones work outside your body on someone else. Figuratively speaking, they work their magic on someone else. Human male pheromones are derived from testosterone, the primary sex hormone of men. Women who are directly exposed to testosterone by injection become masculinized; highly competitive sports provide examples of this. Yet when women are exposed to the chemical messages of male pheromones through their olfactory powers (the sense of smell), their psychology and physiology change in ways that make them more relaxed, receptive, and ready for sexual activity.

Pheromones work intensely on animals than humans. For animals, a pheromone may be a signal for mating. When animals “smell” pheromones, it signals them that their partner (or the animal they smelled it from) is attracting them for mating.

Pheromones can be secreted to trigger many types of behaviors, including:

*To follow a food trail
*Sexual arousal
*To tell other female insects to lay their eggs elsewhere. Called epideictic pheromones
*To respect a territory
*To bond (mother-baby)
*To back off

While pheromones are marketed today as fragrances to attract the opposite sex, much study has to be made to prove that it is effective. A very natural-occurring pheromone phenomenon is when a mother breastfeeds her baby. In humans, an example for a pheromone does not involve sex but rather its product: newborn babies, who seem to be guided to a mother's breast by scent. Research published last year pointed to secretions from the areolar gland "bumps" on mother's nipples as the source of the behavior-modifying, odorous molecules that cue a baby to find its food source.