What is vabbing? Meaning of the term explained and what scientists say about the viral TikTok trend

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Vabbing is one of the recent dating trends to have taken TikTok by storm, with many users claiming it has enhanced their sex lives and helped them attract partners.

In a now deleted video, one user tells more than 1.5 million viewers that the strange trick helped her get dates, encouraging them to try vabbing in gyms and crowded bars.

The general idea is that women use vaginal fluid in a similar way to perfume, dabbing it behind their ears and on their wrists in an effort to seduce partners.

Although the science behind the trend is inconclusive, many have offered anecdotal examples of the method working.

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What is ‘vabbing’?

Vabbing is the act of taking one’s vaginal secretions and using it as a perfume, Dr James and Dr Waling from La Trobe university explain.

They go on: “People dab the secretion on various erogenous zones such as the elbow, wrist or behind the ear. The practice is believed to increase a person’s sexual attractiveness.”

According to Dr James and Dr Waling, the new trend is based upon the science of pheromones, which is a form of smell-based communication.

The current vabbing trend works on the disputed premise that human’s bodily fluids contain pheromones which can convey a range of information about a person, including their genetic makeup.

Some experts support the belief. Sexologist Shan Boodram encouraged the method in her book The Game Of Desire: 5 Surprising Secrets To Dating With Dominance – And Getting What You Want.

In her book, vabbing was framed in pseudoscientific terms, with Boodram writing, “If copulins [chemicals secreted by the vagina] are used as perfume, then it will attract anyone traditionally attracted to women with vulvas.”

While scientists know pheromones play an important role in how animals communicate with each other, research is divided as to whether pheromones play a significant role in sexual and romantic compatibility for humans.

Previous colloquially known ‘sweaty T-shirt studies’ have found evidence that women prefer the smell of a man’s sweat if they have a different gene profile from their own, enforcing the idea that pheromones could influence dating behaviours.

However many scientists remain sceptical of the research.

For instance, one 2012 review of such studies on pheromones found that “although there are studies to support this phenomenon, they are weak, because they were not controlled; others have proposed that human olfactory communication is able to perceive certain pheromones that may play a role in behavioural as well as reproductive biology.”

Despite the lack of scientific grounding, many companies currently market the use of pheromones to attract partners in the form of perfumes and cosmetics, and millions of TikTok users continue to promote the method under the #vabbingtrend hashtag.

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