The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Apocrine Odor

Aroma cue1. A pungent, musky scent produced by dense concentrations of apocrine glands in the underarms, and by lesser concentrations in the face, scalp, ears, eyelids, genital area, and navel. 2. A natural, animal-like aroma which can be emotionally stimulating and sexually attractive.3. A urinous odor, from glandular secretions that increase after puberty, thought to have been (and may still be) used as messages of personal identity, territoriality, and courtship.
Usage: Many consider apocrine odor offensive (e.g., as a sign of poor grooming), and use deodorants to mask its smell. Ironically, some deodorants, colognes, and perfumes contain scents designed, like apocrine scent itself, to mimic the musky, urinous odor of our own sexual steroids.
Neuro-notes. Controlled by sympathetic nerves of the fight-or-flight response, our apocrine glands are highly responsive to emotional stimuli. About two dozen chemical compounds contribute to apocrine underarm scent. Odorless until digested by bacteria, millions of possible smell combinations suggest that apocrine odor may be used to announce our personal identity, presence, and sexual moods.