We long believed in the power of my vagina. It can create a human life, after all, and my own personal vagina has been known to grow an entire garden of yeast. So when I heard about vabbing—vaginal dabbing, a viral TikTok trend in which you use your own vaginal fluids as perfume—I knew I had to try it.
The term “vabbing” was introduced in 2018, when a listener of the Secret Keeper’s Club podcast heard the hosts discuss a man who used his own ball sweat as perfume. Industriously, she tried the same with her vagina. Sex expert Shan Boodram then wrote about her experience with vabbing for Refinery29 in 2019, claiming she’d been doing it effectively for 15 years. While I’m willing to give Boodram credit for making vabbing mainstream, I doubt she’s the first woman to rub her vagina juices into her armpit. (I’m sure I’ve done it by accident myself, many times.) Vabbing didn’t have another comeback until 2022, when TikTok revitalized it, and I personally committed myself to it.
There’s not a ton of science behind vabbing—no research has yet been conducted on it. The scent of our vaginal secretions may appeal to some, but I’ve also gone down on a woman and smelled…nothing. Proponents of vabbing tout the pheromone benefits (as in, potential mates are supposed to be able to subconsciously smell ’em), but there’s no reason to believe humans can actually smell pheromones. At least not knowingly. (What would pheromones even smell like?)
Naturally, I figured it’d be a good idea to talk to a doctor about ~all of this~. My own gynecologist recently diagnosed and then undiagnosed me with herpes in the span of six days, so I thought maybe she owed me one, but she refused to give me a quote, so I spoke with ob-gyn Felice Gersh, MD, who could not endorse the efficacy of vabbing.
“Whatever the sexual attraction may be that theoretically is created by vaginal secretions, nature made it such that the scent is carried in the air from the vagina, and repositioning those secretions to another part of the body is surely not what nature intended,” Dr. Gersh said. In other words, things that are made in the vagina should stay in the vagina. While she discouraged vabbing, she said, “It is not a dangerous practice if the vaginal secretions are placed in a location that other individuals would not touch.” I could vab, just as long as I didn’t let myself get touched. That’s fine—I’m good at not getting touched.
The act of vabbing is pretty intuitive. There aren’t too many rules—you just can’t have any other scents on at the same time. This was fine with me because I forget deodorant about 70 percent of the time anyway (so if my natural odors do attract others…I’d probably know by now). To vab, you put your hand down there, get some juice on a few fingers, and rub it around your pressure points: armpits, wrists, neck, etc. I rubbed some on my nipples too, just for kicks—and they loved it!
I’m pretty juicy, so I was able to vab quite a bit on my first harvest. If you’re on the drier side, I’d recommend masturbating a bit before vabbing. To vab safely, make sure your hands are clean and you don’t have any other issues related to your vagina. (I couldn’t have vabbed during my herpes-scare week, for example.) You should also wash your hands after vabbing. And before. I’m not the FDA, but I’d also go ahead and say vabbing is organic.
Boodram wrote that the best time to vab is right around ovulation, and something clicked for me when I heard this. When I was in high school, our health teacher (who was also, unfortunately, our religion teacher—it was a Catholic school) taught us that we emit the most appealing hormones when we’re ovulating. This tidbit of information prompted me and my friends to intentionally sync up our cycles and throw an Ovulation Day party. We each invited our crushes, none of whom came. Still, there were a lot of Doritos, so I’d consider the night a success. In light of my current vab-fascination, I asked if they might want to plan a sequel party. They’re all married, but one did ask me if I’d like them to throw me a party in which I was the only one who vabbed. I considered it but ultimately declined. I wanted to know if vabbing could make me the center of attention—I didn’t want to be given the attention.
So to figure out if vabbing boosted my sex appeal, I would go it alone. I sat down to design the experiment. First, I needed a place to go. Complicating matters is that I was on a family vacation. I described the quandary to my mother, who responded, “Please stop speaking, your 7-year-old niece has just entered the room.”
It was clear I’d have to escape the fam if I were to vab. The ideal place seemed like one with a lot of people and poor ventilation. Even though I’m on an island known for its beaches, outdoor activities were a no-no. I have a strong vagina, but I believe the scent could still be lost in the wind. I thought the grocery store might be a good bet, but I worried the smell of food would overpower the scent of my vagina. Maybe if I hung near the poultry…but no, I didn’t want to risk it. I considered a bar, but I’m sober, and I feel like everyone’s hitting on everyone at a bar—it wouldn’t be a truly controlled experiment if people were looking for a partner. I wanted them to be surprisingly overtaken with my scent. Knocked dead by it, if you will.
And then it hit me: What’s one place where I’ve never been hit on before? One place where no one has ever accused me of being too sexy? One place where I’d never ever ever expect to meet a partner or get any other sort of benefit? The gym! I would vab, I would go to the gym, and I would observe.
There were a few other experimental hiccups. I could measure how many men approached me after vabbing, but to know if it was because of the vabbing, they would need to tell me they were attracted to my scent. I found this unlikely (although not impossible—men are, much to my frequent chagrin, quite honest). Instead, what I decided to do was go to the gym looking deliberately bad in order to see if the vabbing might make up the difference. This is hard for me, as I’m naturally very beautiful, but not that hard, as I do own not one but three pairs of striped Crocs.
I donned an all-brown outfit—brown sweatshirt, brown sweatpants—and hit the gym. I walked around the gym slowly, almost slouching. I stopped for a long while in front of each and every gym-goer to give them a chance to take in my scent and decide if they wanted to approach me. At least six men hit on me. Well, they asked me if I was waiting to use their machine, and I think that counts (in this economy, take what you can get). No one asked for my number specifically, but they probably memorized my face and planned to find me on Instagram. Or maybe they memorized my scent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google soon allows you to search people by scent.
In the locker room afterward, I overheard two women discussing a new brand of deodorant. I edged nearer to them, hoping that perhaps they’d ask me what deodorant I used, since the topic was fresh on their lips. They did not. When I returned home, I added “I vab” to the bottom of my Tinder profile. I got a statistically insignificant increase in matches. All of which is to say, no, I found no particular evidence that vabbing worked.
However, I believe there was a benefit to vabbing. It might be nothing more than the placebo effect, but I felt sexy. I would never have had the confidence otherwise to go to a gym and not make any attempt to even pretend to exercise. As they always say, half of being hot is just deciding that you’re hot! (The other half, unfortunately, is impeccable physical features.)
I, for one, am a huge fan of any trend that gives a woman more of an opportunity to appreciate her body. If you’re self-conscious that your vagina might not smell exactly the way you want it to, come see me and I’ll give it a whiff. Your vab will likely work on me, as I love everything related to vaginas. I think they’re simply vabulous!