Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1403–1408

Pleasantness of the Odor of Androstenone as a Function of Sexual Intercourse Experience in Women and Men


    • Monell Chemical Senses Center
  • Hely Tuorila
    • Department of Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Helsinki
  • Eero Vuoksimaa
    • Department of Public HealthUniversity of Helsinki
  • Kaisu Keskitalo-Vuokko
    • Department of Public HealthUniversity of Helsinki
  • Richard J. Rose
    • Department of Psychological & Brain SciencesIndiana University
  • Jaakko Kaprio
    • Department of Public HealthUniversity of Helsinki
    • Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Abuse ServicesNational Institute for Health and Welfare
    • Institute for Molecular MedicineUniversity of Helsinki
  • Karri Silventoinen
    • Population Research Unit, Department of Social ResearchUniversity of Helsinki
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-011-9804-7

Cite this article as:
Knaapila, A., Tuorila, H., Vuoksimaa, E. et al. Arch Sex Behav (2012) 41: 1403. doi:10.1007/s10508-011-9804-7


Androstenone (5α-androst-16-en-3-one) and other androstenes, body odor components occurring in apocrine secretions, may play a role in human chemosignaling. We hypothesized that the odor of androstenone may gain hedonic value from sexual intercourse experiences via associative learning. Young adults (N = 397, 61.5% women, age 21–24 years, randomly sampled regarding sexual experience) rated the intensity and pleasantness of the odors of androstenone, cinnamon, chocolate, isovaleric acid, lemon, and turpentine. Among women who were able to perceive androstenone, the odor was rated as more pleasant (less unpleasant) by those who had had experienced sexual intercourse with at least one partner (n = 175) than by those who reported never having experienced intercourse (n = 12, p = .006). The difference was specific to women. The results suggest that, among women, sexual experience may modify the pleasantness of the odor of androstenone.


AndrostenesAssociative learningBody odorEvaluative conditioningOlfactionSmell

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011