Don’t Cry for Me…

We usually associate tears with sadness and misery, however new research has revealed that they may actually have an additional meaning. A recent study has suggested that the smell of female tears acts to lower sexual arousal in men. The discovery of this ‘chemosensory’ response and its ultimate purpose has sparked much debate in the scientific community.


A series of experiments were conducted which subjected males to a number of conditions affecting sexual arousal to varying degrees. The participants were shown a combination of erotic, neutral and sad films whilst having pads placed under their noses which contained either women’s tears, a saline solution or nothing at all. A mixture of questionnaires and brain imaging techniques (fMRI) were used to assess their levels of sexual arousal. Astoundingly, results from both the questionnaires and imaging data showed that when the men had women’s tears placed under their nose their sexual arousal decreased.

The underlying reason for this chemosensory response is now being hotly debated. Noam Sobel and his team who led the study believe this lowered arousal in males may act to lower sexual activity during menstruation, saying “We know that women tend to cry more during menstruation, when it’s not an effective time to conceive…” Others believe the response actually works to reduce aggression in emotional situations, with lowered sexual arousal being a mere side effect of this.

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// Chris Brennan-Jones is a final year audiology student at Queen Margaret University

Creative Commons License Don’t Cry for Me… by Chris Brennan-Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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