It is often suggested that there's natural smell in females that arouse males, but a team of testers have now found that women smell of onions while men smell of cheese.
A Swiss team of researchers, who studied the armpit sweat samples from 24 males and 25 females, found marked differences in the sweat from men and women after they had spent time in a sauna or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.
"Men smell of cheese, and women of grapefruit or onion," said Christian Starkenmann of Firmenich, a company in Geneva that researches flavours and perfumes for food and cosmetics companies.
A team of independent testers recruited by the scientists found the smell from women’s armpits was more unpleasant. According to the results, which appear in Chemical Senses, women's armpit sweat contained relatively high levels of an odourless sulphur-containing compound - 5 milligrams per millilitre of sweat versus 0.5 milligrams in men, the New Scientist magazine reported today.
When the researchers mixed this compound in the lab with bacteria commonly found in the armpit, the bugs turned it into a thiol - a previously discovered odour from armpits that is akin to onion.
Men had relatively high levels of an odourless fatty acid which turned into a cheesy odour when exposed to the same types of bacteria.
The balance of oniony to cheesy precursors in women's sweat made it smell worse than men's as rated by independent smell assessors. The research could lead to a new understanding of body odour - and a new range of deodorants designed to tackle the unique smells of men and women.
Earlier, scientists in the US have suggested that women can sense if a man is attracted to her by the smell of his armpit sweat.