In this question, I asked what would be the effect if human women suddenly started going into heat, having a period of sexual receptivity separated by a period of non-receptivity, and men would respond sexually only to a woman in heat.


Now, let us suppose that after such an event, humans in our world have been going into heat for the last 250 years, and that no-one alive has ever experienced or has even spoken to someone who had ever experienced humanity's former state of concealed estrus and almost continual sexual receptivity.

Humans have managed to retain a high-tech lifestyle. Women have access to cheap hormonal monitors that can predict days in advance when their heat will begin, giving them the ability to head off to a mating reserve or facility for a few days, (or isolate themselves in a women-only facility if they really don't want to have sex), and therefore not cause havoc by emitting pheromones in their places of business (which is a punishable misdemeanour, the fine commensurate with the cost of removing the woman and any affected men to a mating facility).

Mating reserves are policed by post-menopausal women who ensure that any men who attend the mating area behave appropriately and respect a woman's choice of partner (not that that is much of a problem, since most men rejected by one woman are often accepted by another). A woman's mate selection is largely based on appearance and initial impressions and rather less on prior experience with a man. Rape is practically unknown, and occurs primarily when a woman is isolated away from a mating facility and is accompanied by an undesirable mate.

DNA paternity testing still exists for medical and social purposes, and mating reserve records can show which men mated with which women. Statistics shows that the man with whom a woman chooses to have sex in private during her most fertile period is most usually the father. However, the financial burden of fatherhood is spread out across the population in the form of a fairly nominal paternity tax so that men do not have to consider the contraceptive status of their partners when they are in rut and not really capable of doing so rationally.

Sex is recognised as being on Maslows Heirarchy of Needs, and that people of either gender who abstain for too great a period of time suffer from mental and physical health problems. Most women choose to have sex and prevent unwanted pregnancy using contraceptives administered prior to going into heat that do not interrupt their heat cycle.

The seven-day week was retained, and women get leave from work on one day per week, plus the four-to-five day period of their heat. Once post-menopausal, they gain the same leave as men, i.e. two days per week. There are no specific "days off", as mating can happen on any day, so leave arrangements with people's places of employment are typically somewhat flexible.

Babies and children are raised by the community as much as by their mothers, more so than is the case today. The genetic father is often present, as most women mate within their own community, though mother and father may not necessarily cohabit.

Children receive frank sexual education at a fairly young age - their lack of pheromones or receptiveness to pheromones makes them effectively asexual and paedophilia is practically non-existent as a result. They're considered old enough to have sex when they're old enough to be interested (early attempts to prevent them led to mental and physical health problems), and since at the age they usually become receptive they're not old enough to look after a baby, contraceptives are administered to girls until they have a sufficient income and are deemed old enough to be sufficiently responsible to support a child.

The Question

Humanity has adapted and grown used to women going into heat. Now, after a quarter millennium, doctors have finally discovered why the change happened, and they know how to reverse it, but can only do so using temporary (effective for a few months to a year at most), expensive but minimally invasive treatment on individual women, or they can release a persistent airborne agent (that is also fairly expensive, but not so much so when divided between the world's population) that will effectively permanently reverse the change for the entire human population. There is no half-way measure possible.

An individual woman treated to have concealed estrus would release low levels of pheromones continuously, such that men would be interested, but not almost irresistibly driven to mate with her as is usually the case. I.e. pretty much our status quo.

What happens once this is announced?

Does humanity choose to go back to the state of concealed estrus and permanent (but reduced) receptivity that existed before living memory, that state depicted in the multitude of old movies and stories in which people killed each other over matters of sexual jealousy that have largely disappeared since the change?

Does humanity choose to stay with the status-quo of women going into heat? If so, would it be permissible for women to be treated to be permanently in semi-estrus (as they are in our reality), or would this be considered socially dangerous or irresponsible?

If the wishes of the majority was that a global return to concealed estrus be implemented, could a minority desiring to remain subject to overt estrus derail the process?


With retention of overt estrus, we have the continuing inconvenience of having to have women go to a mating facility or isolating themselves for four to five days every four weeks, give or take a bit, and enforcing them doing so, all at significant financial expense to society, with the continued positive of a significant reduction in sexually-motivated crimes. This is what the population is used to.

With a return to concealed estrus, the social and business inconvenience and pressures on the public purse imposed by segregation of women in heat would be eased significantly, but sexually-motivated crimes would be expected to soar to levels only known in the historical records, and few police officers would have any idea about how to police such crimes. People would not know how they would react to potentially being sexually receptive at any time, but still being able to say "no" easily.

When the nature of human sexuality altered 250 years ago, there would have been a period of chaos while people got used to the altered situation, and there would probably have been only a small minority who would not want to go back to concealed estrus. However, when overt estrus has been operative for so long that no-one remembers concealed estrus save in very old literature and films, the arguments are likely to change.

This is - behind its veneer of altered biology - a question of human mass psychology and global politics.

I detailed two potential options, but the question I'm asking is: Which one of them is the most likely? I don't believe that this is any more opinion-based than any other answerable question. Does familiarity trump the socioeconomic factors, or vice versa?

Edit 2

It can be assumed that when the medical breakthrough is announced, there would be a great deal of debate, potentially going on for years, or possibly being over in a few months.

I am looking for answers that address this global debate and present a justified opinion as to which way the global society would fall on the question of reverting to concealed estrus or retaining overt estrus, given the socio-economic factors I have detailed.

In the event that there is a tie or lack of consensus - in either the in-world global debate addressed by answers to this question or between answers posted here on WB.SE - since humans are creatures of habit, it can be assumed that nothing will change as the in-world debate simply drags on ad-infinitum, as has been the case with any number of other supposedly good ideas which have a few vocal opponents.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Just to be clear: Are males around a woman in heat equivalent to instinct-driven animals without rational thought, while the woman retains her mental faculties? That seems sexist. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 14 '15 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Also, you mention two possible results in your question, which indicates there is more than one "right" answer. Voting to close this as opinion-based as a result. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 14 '15 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre, there are two options, but I believe that only one is the correct one. The question is: which is correct? As stated in the question, you can't have both, either everyone changes back to concealed estrus, or any individual treatments will simply revert to overt estrus within a few months. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Sep 15 '15 at 1:24
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This feels like idea generation/too broad/opinion based to me. How do we rate one answer over any other? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Oct 15 '15 at 12:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This question is WAY TOO LONG, way too opinion based, and frankly ridiculous. What is the compelling need to revert? Who would even care? Given the cost and inconvenience of change without any driving impetus, no change would ever occur and the "cure" would go down as a medical footnote. But what really surprises me is that you've produced an encyclopedic (the the point of being burdensome) question but can't develop an answer for yourself? Read this. $\endgroup$ Nov 4 '17 at 17:01

I think this question is more about gathering subjective, personal perspectives than searching for a scientific, standard answer. Anyhow, I would invest my two cents.

The question really depends on how the scientific, political and religious communities respond to such a biological possibility.

The Research

For the sake of scientific and political research, a group of volunteer test subjects could be placed in a closed environment in an airtight building (it produces it's own oxygen through synthetic chemical reactions) where the said aerosol has been released. The environment of the setting would be studied in detail for physical and behavioral changes on both women AND men working in the facility.

There would be another group of women who would be treated with the temporary treatment who would be studied similarly for a prolonged period of time.

The results would be published in leading scientific journals.

Option 1

Some countries might adopt to the semi-estrus workplace environment by having the working women stay for 5 minutes in an airtight room where said aerosol has been released. After spending 5 minutes there, all the women would be at equal levels of pheromones discharge. This method would also not affect other countries so no political or religious controversy would arise.

Advantages Of This Approach

All work-force is always active in the office. There are no monthly leaves taken by women for the sake of spending time in a mating facility (I highly suspect most women would want to go there anyway. There's a thing known as marriage and long term relationship).

Option 2

As time passes, the temporary treatment option would get cheaper, easier and it's effects lasting longer. Gradually the tech would be in reach of majority of women in the world and they would be able to try it.

Advantages Of This Approach

There would be no hostile statements from religious groups who might get vitriolic over pheromonic treatment of workplace environments. Also, with this method, the tech would gradually be in reach of all the women in the world and they would be able to try it without affecting any other woman.

Reaction Of Religious Community To The Research

Actively negative! All leading world religions would oppose this method as it tends to change a woman's sexuality from the divine system to some synthetic, manmade system (which would probably be labelled as satanic). Riots might break in some 3rd world countries and clinics offering the temporary version of the treatment might be burned/razed.

Reaction Of The Scientific Community

Very positive. It would be regarded as a major breakthrough in lifestyle improvement. As many as 5 nobel prizes might be awarded for research in different aspects of this groundbreaking technology.

Reaction Of Political Leadership

Prudent and reserved. No comments would be issued by the heads of leading 1st world countries directly favoring or disfavoring the possibilities arising from this technology.

  • $\begingroup$ "Reaction Of Political Leadership - Prudent and reserved. No comments" We are talking about human politics, yes? In fact, politicians would ranged from reserved to violently in opposition or agreement. $\endgroup$
    – Jerry B
    Jun 9 '19 at 20:55

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