Scent Play

Updated: MARCH 30, 2024

Scent play is any sexual play involving smells to enhance the experience.

Popular Smells for Scent Play

People interested in scent play may get aroused by a whole range of smells. It’s common for people to get turned on by scents related to their partner or other people, such as body odor, unwashed genitals, worn underwear, and feet. That may be because substances like sweat and vaginal fluid could contain pheromones that attract people to one another, although the presence and impact of human pheromones has not been scientifically confirmed. Despite this, some people enjoy practicing scent play with pheromone perfumes and vaginal fluids (vabbing). Perfumes, especially the fragrances people associate with their partner or other people they find attractive, can also be used for scent play.

Scent play can overlap with food play when people play with foods with strong scents. Some great-smelling foods include fruits, licorice, and desserts flavored with vanilla or cinnamon.

Scent Play Scenes

Scent play scenes can range from the gentle and sensual to the more intense. For example, people may enjoy gentle scent play by lighting aromatic candles or massaging a partner with scented oils.

More intense BDSM-style scent play activities include forced sniffing, where the submissive is forced to sniff parts of the dominant’s body, such as their feet or crotch, or smelly items like sneakers or underwear. For example, a dominant may use the laces to tie a used shoe to their submissive’s face or use worn underwear to gag their submissive. People may also lick or kiss their partner’s armpits, feet, and other parts of the body where odors linger. A dominant may burp or fart into their submissive’s face to combine humiliation play and scent play.

Scent and Attraction

When humans encounter scents, they trigger responses from the limbic system. This part of the brain houses the amygdala, which generates emotions, and the hippocampus, which makes memories. If someone likes a smell, they will feel good and form positive memories, but if they don’t like a smell they will experience negative emotions and form negative memories. If someone likes how someone smells, they will feel good and remember the encounter positively. The influence of fragrances may be why some people feel attracted or repulsed by people they know little about. A 2019 study from the University of Newcastle also found people are more likely to be attracted to others with a similar scent to their own.

When someone smells another person they are attracted to, their reproductive system releases hormones that prepare them for mating. Humans may also emit pheromones in substances like sweat and semen that attract or repel potential partners.


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