Sex, Drugs, and Pheromones: What’s Wrong with Your Love Life?


What would you do if the drugs you are taking are the cause of your lousy love life?

I was socially and sexually active from the ages of 18 to 28.  From age 28 until 54, I didn’t have a single date.  After age 54, I started dating again.  So what happened to the lost years?

I took drugs.  I did not take “street” drugs; I took “office” drugs—drugs prescribed by doctors, most particularly antidepressants and birth control pills.  After I stopped taking drugs and got my brain back, I started doing research and learned that drugs interfere with your pheromones.

Pheromones are hinky-dinky little hormones that hang around on the outside of your cells and send and receive odors.  You smell other people and other people smell you.  You are, after all, an animal.  (You’re not a vegetable or a mineral, are you?)  Some animals have a really sharp sense of smell—for example, how do you think a tomcat finds a female cat when it’s in heat?  Do you think she’s sending out engraved invitations?  He can smell her a long way off, as can many other species of animal.

Your sense of smell is not as good as a cat’s so usually you’re not aware of the subtle odors you’re picking up from other people but they are there.  You’re transmitting as well as receiving.  An immunologist reported on a study done at a university wherein male students were given new white t-shirts and told to wear them next to their skin for three days.  They were not to shower, use deodorant or cologne, or do anything else to change their natural body odor.  At the end of three days, the t-shirts were collected and given to girls to smell.

What researchers found was that the t-shirts that the girls said were sexual turn-offs were also the t-shirts that girls said smelled like their fathers or brothers.  One theory is that we are predetermined at the cellular level to avoid sex with our closest relatives.  What we know is that breeding close relatives weakens the species.  Zoos maintain a worldwide index of their animals and who’s been bred with whom to ensure that there’s no inbreeding.  Incest was a biological no-no long before it became a morally reprehensible thing.  We are designed to be sexually repellant to our close relatives in order to improve the quality of the species.

When a guy and a girl meet at a cocktail party and he leans toward her and says, “M-m-m, you smell good,” he is probably not talking about her shampoo or perfume.  He’s responding at a more primitive level.  The immunologist went on to explain that primary research is showing that the pharmaceuticals you ingest in drug form are altering your pheromones.  You take drugs and then stop sending off good, healthy odors.

As noted, I was socially and sexually active—that is, I was sending off come-hither smells and guys were responding—until just before my twenty-eighth birthday, at which time my fiancé was killed in a plane crash.  A few months later, a neurologist put me on antidepressants.  Eighteen months later, men stopped being attracted to me.  No looks, no phone calls, no dates, no sex.  And therapists, my girlfriends, and I spent the next twenty-six years trying to figure out why not.

I was depressed.  I was grieving.  I had issues with my father.  I was gaining weight.  Men were jerks.  We spent years talking, and trying to change me, but the one thing we never considered to be a problem was the drugs:  antidepressants, birth control pills (for PMS), antihistamines, blood pressure medicine, painkillers—I took what everybody took.

But in 2001, at the age of 52, I stopped taking all drugs.  Everything was making sick—even the common aspirin—so I stopped taking everything.  Eighteen months later, men started being attracted to me again, including a totally hot hero-type with whom I had an on-and-off relationship for several years (just because I was alive and well didn’t mean he had his head screwed on straight).  Other men were attracted to me, too.  I hadn’t gotten any younger or lost any weight, but now I was sending off nice, clean, exciting hormones announcing my availability.

I started dating another guy (the two guys were, respectively, nine and eleven years younger than me).  The new guy was an ex-Green Beret, currently working in the medical field.  He was nice, treated me with respect, had a pretty good sense of humor and was totally into me.  He wanted to have sex; I didn’t.  I liked him, but sexually he left me absolutely cold.  Hugs, holding hands, and back rubs were all nice—the contacts you would have with your grandmother, child or massage therapist—but kissing and making out were a turn off.

Then he got a pain in his neck and demanded an MRI.  It turned out to be just a touch of arthritis, but I became suspicious about his relationship with modern American medicine and I started asking what drugs he was taking.  He was on antihistamines, steroids, blood pressure medicine and a lot of other stuff.  After we broke up, I told people it was because he didn’t eat his vegetables, which was also true.  His diet was entirely proteins and carbohydrates.  I theorize that vegetables are sexy and contribute to healthy pheromones, but drugs definitely are a turn-off.  He was a nice guy but he wasn’t emitting good pheromones.  Conversely, the guy with whom I’d previously had a hot-hot-hot relationship never took more than the occasional aspirin.  As I moved on to dating men I met on-line, I discovered a regular correlation between how many drugs a guy was taking and how much of a turn-on he was.  Or wasn’t.  Drug-free guys are fun.  I’m supposing the same is true of drug-free girls.

The immunologist also told an anecdote about a couple who met, dated and got married while she was taking birth control pills.  Their relationship always was fairly tempestuous and it reached the point that they were considering divorce.  In an effort to save their marriage, they decided to have a baby so she stopped taking The Pill.  Three months later they got divorced:  without drugs messing up her odor-receivers, she was repelled by his smell.  Nature was telling her that his DNA was too close to her own and she should not mate with him. 

So there it is folks:  the pharmaceuticals you ingest are messing up your attract-repel system.

What can you do about it?  Stop taking drugs.  Go on an eighteen-month drug holiday and see what happens.  You say you can’t stop taking your medications?  I say nonsense.  About ninety percent of all drugs are prescribed to treat the effects of lousy lifestyle choices.  Stop taking sleeping pills and get some exercise.  Stop taking antidepressants and take action against the things that are depressing you.  Stop taking birth control pills and learn to say no.  Amazing what you may learn about your relationships. 

Give up your present and invest in your future.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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