Sperm may smell their way to the egg, and they like some smells better than others. One of their favorites is lily of the valley. Researchers have identified an odor receptor in sperm?the same kind found in the nerve cells of the nose. When they find a smell they like, they swim strongly towards it, so the sperm that’s the best smeller will be the one to fertilize the egg. For artificial insemination, doctors could use scent to separate out the stronger sperm and thus have a better chance of conception. Dr. Allan Pacey says, “What it illustrates is that the process of sperm transport to the egg is not just about sperm swimming around until they find an egg.?

When human sperm are exposed to the scent of lily of the valley, they become excited, doubling their speed and homing in on the smell. Biologist Hans Hatt says, “This is the first time sperm has been shown to respond to smell. The application of the substances in a salve to the vaginal area could raise the chance of conceiving.” Receptors in the sperm’s membranes are attracted to two chemical compounds, cyclamal and bourgeonal, which used by the cosmetics industry to create the lily of the valley smell. Another compound, undecanal, repelled the sperm, so it could be used as a contraceptive.

So does lily of the valley perfume applied behind the ears attract men? The scientists aren’t saying.

Lilith knew how to seduce. Watch out: she’ll seduce you too.

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