According to Noam Sobel, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, tears contain chemical signals that decrease sexual arousal and testosterone levels in men, reports Nature.
In the study, men were asked to sniff vials containing either the women's tears or saline that had been applied to their cheeks.
Results showed that men who sniffed the tears perceived those women as sexually less attractive than did men who sniffed saline.
And men who took a whiff of tears (and not saline) reported a decrease in sexual arousal. These men also reported reduced activity in the areas of brain that are associated with sexual arousal, such as the hypothalamus.
"I think the study has used sound methodology and the results indeed are fascinating. But as far as I know, there is no clear logical, theoretical or empirical justification to design a study on the effects of tears on sex," Nature quoted Ad Vingerhoets, who studies emotion at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, as saying.
Interestingly, on the other hand, tears are considered to heighten empathy and induce caring behaviour, and they act as sexual attractants in mice but decrease sexual arousal in humans.
Denise Chen, who studies human olfaction at Rice University in Houston, Texas, said that to explore whether tears evoked by different emotions have different effects, the researchers should also perform experiments in which they elicit happy weeping, or neutral tears caused by allergens or irritants such as onions.
She concluded, "overall, as a first study, it's very exciting and it suddenly opens the door for a lot more studies in the future".