WTF is the TikTok 'Vabbing' Trend?
Every week it seems there's a new TikTok trend creating buzz, and the flavor of the moment is "vabbing." This technique is a combination of vagina and dabbing. Vabbing is where a person inserts their fingers into their vagina and then dabs their vaginal fluid on the skin as they would perfume. The target points are typically the wrist, neck, and behind the ears.
The idea is that natural human pheromones in vaginal fluid are attractive. This is the same way that animals attract a mate. This isn't a new trend, as it appeared to surface in 2019. TikTok users have recently jumped on the hype again and started sharing their personal experiences.
Among those creators is @Jewlieah, who claims she's had great success with vabbing in a series of TikTok posts. In one recent video, she revealed she vabbed before she went to the gym, where a man flirted with her. In another, she vabs right before going to see an ex and then the video cuts to the next morning as she heads home. "It could've been the vab, it could've been the sass, the world will never know," she stated.
While @Jewlieah seems to believe it really works, others are divided on the topic. Some people believe it's unhygienic and unnecessary, while others have tried it themselves and shared success stories.
Does vabbing actually work?
Is this latest buzzworthy trend actually worth your time? Experts say most likely, no.
Cindy Duke, M.D., Ph.D., founding physician of the Nevada Fertility Institute in Las Vegas, doubts that vabbing works.
"I think if someone's drawn to you by such an odor, they're going to be drawn to you whether it's on your neck or whether it's still in your vagina," Duke said.
No studies have been done on whether vabbing works. There's not much research on how much pheromones play with human emotions. It's therefore unclear whether this trend has the potential to attract someone.
"Pheromones are interesting because you're not supposed to naturally smell pheromones, they're supposed to be very minute particles that get aerosolized and travel from one person to another," Duke explained.
A small study published in 1975 noted that short-chain aliphatic acids in vaginal fluids may play a role in human pheromones. However, researchers could not find the significance of pheromones in vaginal odors.
'Being comfortable with your body in general, your vulva in particular and its natural, lovely smelling moistness will score you well in the sexy confidence stakes.'
With no evidence to support this trend, is it still worth trying? Perhaps. Vabbing might attract people, just not in the way you might think, stated Justin McLamore, a perfumer in Atlanta and founder of Mack n Gnosh, a unisex perfume company.
Vabbing could trigger a placebo effect, which gives you a renewed sense of confidence, MacLamore said. It's more about how you are wearing it, rather than the fact that you are wearing it. Confidence is an attractive quality in a person, so it makes sense that the confidence vabbing provides could attract people and compliments.
Ky Hoyle is the founder of Sh!, a female-friendly sex shop in London. Hoyle said she's unsure about the pheromone perfume effect, she believes anything that can improve confidence is worth trying.
"Being comfortable with your body in general, your vulva in particular, and its natural, lovely smelling moistness will score you well in the sexy confidence stakes," Hoyle said.
Is vabbing safe?
Even though there aren't any studies to back up its effectiveness, vabbing is safe and there aren't any known side effects.
If you use this technique, wash your hands before and after. You don't want to introduce any harmful bacteria to your vulva and vagina that could cause irritation or throw off the pH of your vaginal microbiome.
Your vaginal microbiome is composed of bacteria. These fight against bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and pelvic inflammatory disease. To maintain the microbiome, avoid poor hygiene practices like wiping back to front, or using scented feminine hygiene products.
Take note if your vulva and vagina have an unpleasant odor (such as smelling fishy) or your discharge is an unusual color. Especially if these happen after intercourse without the use of condoms, you may be showing signs of infection.
Vaginal fluids: The new perfume?
Using vaginal fluids may be a cost-free way to potentially boost your confidence, but it won't have the same impact as perfume. The simple reason for this is that vaginal secretions are often odorless or mildly scented, so it's less likely to trigger thoughts, emotions, and physical responses.
"How you choose to smell says a lot about your personality and the way you wish to present yourself," McLamore said.
He believes that for some people, their scent is more important than the clothes they wear. It represents who you are and what you have to say to the world.
Perfumes are linked to an activation pathway in the brain that is linked to a memory response, Duke explained. This part of the brain is known as the hippocampus, and the very tip of this is the amygdala; these are responsible for memories.
Fragrances trigger this part of the brain, which is why we associate scents with certain feelings. For example, when you smell smoke, your first thought is to run and look for a fire escape because you've been programmed to respond that way.
However, it's unlikely that natural vaginal secretions could ever have the same effect on the brain. If you are trying out vabbing because you believe it will help you attract a partner, it could prove to be ineffective.
"I want people to understand that some of that smell of what people are going [to] call 'the musk,' that musk actually comes from the hair follicles' growth," Duke said. "It's also coming from the armpits. It's usually also coming from the head."
"You don't need to take it from down there and put it on your neck or around your head," Duke added. "The rest of your body's doing it, too."
If you try vabbing, temper your expectations.