TikTok users are 'vabbing' — wearing their vaginal juices as perfume to activate their natural attraction. A scientist says that makes no sense.
- Some TikTok users say "vabbing," or wearing their vaginal secretions as perfume, helps them attract potential partners.
- An evolutionary biologist who studies pheromones says there's no definitive proof vabbing works.
Some TikTok users are wearing their vaginal secretions as do-it-yourself perfume after hearing the trick can boost sexual attraction.
The trend, called "vabbing," became fodder on TikTok after user Mandy Lee shared a now-deleted video endorsing the practice. It gained more than 1 million views, and comments from longtime vabbing fans who suggested it for date nights and job interviews.
This isn't the first time vabbing has made headlines. In August 2019, Refinery29 published an expert from sexologist Shan Boodram's book "The Game of Desire," where she recommended vabbing and shared her personal experience, saying she's done it for 15 years. Boodram later talked about the technique on the late-night show "A Little Late with Lilly Singh" and podcast "Talking It Out with Mike & Bryan."
Since then, perfumes that promise to boost a person's pheromones, chemical signals common to a particular species, have hit the market. But there's no scientific evidence that vabbing or pheromone-powered scents work for humans, Tristram Wyatt, an evolutionary biologist who studies various animals' scents and pheromones, told Insider.
Scientists have yet to find pheromones in humans, let alone their vaginas
Studies pinpointing other mammals' pheromones suggests it's "highly likely" humans emit pheromone signals too, but no researchers have found evidence of that in humans yet, Wyatt said.
Wyatt believes it's because of limited research because pheromones have no particular medical use.
Pheromones found in lobsters, mice, and insects have various uses and they're not all sex-related. In rabbits, for example, pheromones allow babies to find their mothers' nipples and feed.
When it comes to mammals, finding these pheromones and their uses is difficult because they release more varied smells than other animals, Wyatt said. Since humans smell different pre- and post-puberty, that could signal the existence of a sex-related pheromone.
But, he cautioned, that research doesn't exist, which keeps human pheromones a mystery — and practices like vabbing an unproven myth.
There could be a confidence-boosting placebo effect with 'vabbing'
If you want to vab, Wyatt doesn't see an issue with it.
He said it's possible the practice has a placebo effect. Since someone is taking the time to wear their vaginal juices, that novel act could stick in their head as they move about the world and convince them to act in ways that potential partners could find attractive.
"I can't see it doing any harm, and if it gives you some confidence, then why not? The other thing is, in our current state of knowledge, we simply don't know," Wyatt said.
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