The neuroendocrinology of sexual attraction.
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Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, ISSN: 1095-6808
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Sexual attraction has two components: Emission of sexually attractive stimuli and responsiveness to these stimuli. In rodents, olfactory stimuli are necessary but not sufficient for attraction. We argue that body odors are far superior to odors from excreta (urine, feces) as sexual attractants. Body odors are produced by sebaceous glands all over the body surface and in specialized glands. In primates, visual stimuli, for example the sexual skin, are more important than olfactory. The role of gonadal hormones for the production of and responsiveness to odorants is well established. Both the androgen and the estrogen receptor α are important in male as well as in female rodents. Also in primates, gonadal hormones are necessary for the responsiveness to sexual attractants. In males, the androgen receptor is sufficient for sustaining responsiveness. In female non-human primates, estrogens are needed, whereas androgens seem to contribute to responsiveness in women.