According to lead author of the study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Mikhail Moshkin, professor at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia, "Our research revealed that infectious disease reduces odor attractiveness in humans." According to the researchers, women describe the odor of men infected with gonorrhea as "putrid."
reports the scientists say the disagreeable odor may be subtle, more a chemical warning than a stench, but it does have effect. The study arose from the observation that some animals, such as mice and rats, were repelled by the scents of potential mates that were infected. The researchers then asked whether humans also use body odor to choose healthy mates.
According to NY Daily News
, the researchers took samples of armpit sweat and spit from 34 Russian men aged between 17 and 25. The group included 13 young men with gonorrhea and 16 who were healthy, and five who had had gonorrhea in the past but had been successfully treated. 18 female students were then asked to sniff the samples.
The sweat samples were obtained by dressing the men in tight fitting T-shirts with cotton pads sewn into the armpits. After an hour of sweating, the men were asked to bag the T-shirts. The pads were placed in glass vials for the women to sniff.
The Women found the odor of over a third of the samples disagreeable. MSNBC
reports the women judged nearly half of the infected men's sweat "foul-smelling" or "putrid." In contrast, they judged only 30 percent of the sweat from healthy men, and 40 percent of sweat from men who had been treated for gonorrhea, putrid. The women also rated the odor of the healthy men twice as high on a "pleasantness" scale the researchers designed for rating odors.
The researchers then concluded that like rats and mice, humans also use body scent to sniff out appropriate mates.
The scientists said that "We can conclude that unpleasant body odor of infected persons can reduce the probability of a dangerous partnership."