A recent Time article reported an astonishing new find. Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that men are good for women.

Actually, there’s more to it than that—what they really found out, or think they found out, is that regular relations and, more specifically, male body odors have a healthful effect on fertility, menstrual cycles, and menopause—most revolutionary news.

The mysterious link between men and women has been explored for eight years by Winnifred Cutler, a biologist and specialist in behavioral endocrinology. At first, years ago. Cutler found that having sexual intercourse at least once a week, with a man, was important for a woman’s reproductive health. After her latest study, it appears that what’s almost (but not quite) as good as sex is what Cutler calls the “male essence,” subtle sex aromas known as pheromones.

Men and women exude pheromones, and one pheromone can smell another as if it had fallen into a vat of Evening in Paris. Scientists have known for long that pheromones affect physiological behavior. Women’s cycles in convents and college dormitories (on old-fashioned campuses) and between roommates who spend little time with other people, tend to run synchronously. And now Cutler has shown that, contrary to public opinion, the most important part of a man’s body, for women, at least, lies under his arms.

In her experiment, seven men and women wore underarm pads for 18 to 27 hours a week over a three-month period. Then “soups” of “aromatic essences,” one from the women’s armpits and one from the men’s, were cooked up. When the “essence” of men (eat your heart out. Bill Blass!) was mixed with alcohol and applied to the upper lips of sex women with abnormal cycles, who weren’t at the tim’e, um, dating anyone, their cycles sped or slowed toward a 29.5 day average. (B.O.-uillon distilled from women’s sweat tended to make the cycles of female volunteers synchronize with each other.)

Granted, these results may not be complete or conclusive. Cutler, for obvious reasons, had few volunteers, and many questions come to mind. For example, was the same underarm pad worn by each sweat donor for all three months? If so, what was the empirical effect on their sex lives? And if male sweat determines female fertility, which explains the large families of farmers and coal miners and steel workers, where do the Kennedys fit in?

As for the guinea pigs, my own feeling is that a woman who would consent to have armpit soup dabbed daily on her upper lip is irregular in more ways than one.

What’s really interesting, though, is Cutler’s recommendation to women who have what men like to call “female problems.” The simplest solution, you’d think, would be for men to just stop wearing deodorant (which, unlike soap, serves no hygienic purpose) in the workplace and in elevators, thus making women healthier, if not happier. Or—my preference (but perhaps this is too revolutionary)—she could have simply told women to find a terrific guy and marry him.

Cutler, however, is nothing if not attuned to the mind-set of the 80’s. She says, “My dream is that manufactured male essence, in creams, sprays, or perfumes, can dramatically alter the well-being of women.” To this end we and the Japanese are engaged in a mad race for research and marketing rights, and Cutler’s partner predicts that in three to five years women may be able to treat themselves to a therapeutic bottle of artificial male sweat. Who says money can’t buy happiness?

All of this reminded me of something, and it took me a while to figure it out. When our young son wants to avoid going to bed, his imagination and energy are boundless. He hides. He tries to distract us by pointing out, noisily, in sudden astonishment, the extraordinary details of a book or toy he hasn’t touched in months. He giggles, he pouts, he roots his feet to the floor or ricochets off the walls, making the 20-foot trip to bed 100 miles long. And it’s all done with a kind of sad desperation because, bone-tired, he knows what’s inevitable. Like all six-year-olds, he finds Mother Nature a pain in the neck; the only rules he likes are the ones he invents himself.

Most people, by the time they reach adulthood, have learned to lie back and enjoy it.