The Smell of Sex, Broken Down | What Does Sex Smell Like?

what does sex smell like the smell of sex

Ever been knee deep in sex and wondered “hey, what’s that smell?”. Yeah, me neither. But if you’ve ever walked into a room where sex was just had, or if you’re a connoisseur of the ol’ car sex, you know that there’s a distinct aroma that usually follows a sweaty session of bump and grind. And, as always, if it's a question on Reddit, then it's probably a questions that you've thought about too.

Clearly, I am neither a poet nor a scientist, so describing that sweet (and pretty pungent) after-aroma of sex isn’t an easy task. Does it smell like body juice? Sweat and erotic fluids? Fish sauce? What would it smell like If you bottled it up and sold it as a musky cologne – Eau de Intercourse. It probably wouldn’t sell, but people are spending money on a candle that smells like Gweneth Paltrow’s vagina, so what do I know.

Instead of putting you through the agony of me trying to find out what sex actually smells like, lets look to the experts to find out what causes that ever-so-sweet aroma that follows wild times and sixty-ni….never mind. Here, we break down the smell of sex down to the knitty gritty. If you've ever wondered "what does sex smell like", then you've come to the right place.

1. Sweat

Was it really good sex if neither of you broke a sweat? We’ll cover that another time, but for now lets focus on smells. Sweat. The sweet aroma of hard work and perseverance. When you’re romping, everything starts to sweat – your butt sweats, the back of your knees sweat, your armpits sweat – everything sweats. And while sweat itself is odorless, the bacteria in these different areas that feast on the sweat end up releasing some acidic compounds in the process.

Here’s the bad news. Since the smell of the sweaty area largely depends on the type of bacteria that’s hanging around, the fact that the extra-smelly bacteria love your genitals (hopefully they’re not the only ones) means that that area is much more likely to get a little aromatic during sex. That’s partly why sweat from your genital region, butt and armpits don’t smell like sweat from, say, your back.

But the composition of the sweat also plays a part. Depending on your diet and lifestyle, your sweaty areas might smell different. For example, this study looked at the difference in body odors of men who ate meat versus those who didn’t. Basically, they took seventeen men that were on “meat” or “non-meat” diets for two weeks wearing pads to collect body odor over the course of the study. Then, thirty women took the pads and rated them for pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity. After a month, the men switched diets and the same procedure was repeated. Here’s what they found:

Overall, the odors of guys that were on the non-meat diet were judged as “significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense”.

A big contributor to butt and genital sweat is also the clothing that you wear. Most guys are walking around wearing non-breathable, sweatbox underwear. Imagine the smell when those hit the floor. Sheesh. Luckily, we’ve got you covered if you don’t want your partner to run screaming after your drawers come off. Our undies wick more moisture than cotton and improve ventilation, meaning heat doesn’t stay trapped in as much and you get a little less sweaty. Doesn’t hurt that they’re also the best thing you’ll ever put on your body.

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So if your life goal is to smell like an irresistible sex-beast, maybe it might be time to take it easy on the meat and invest in some breathable underwear, man.

Otherwise, sweat is a perfectly natural part of sex, and few things are as satisfying as laying in a tired puddle with your partner after an intense session of bedroom rodeo. But according to science, it contributes to the smell of sex.

2. Latex and Lube

Have you ever smelled a condom? It doesn’t smell very pleasant. Often made out of latex, condoms are used by about one-third of Americans as a form of contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections. But when you’re in the midst of it, the mixture of latex with bodily fluids and friction can cause a distinct tangy smell. If you also use lube, that can add to it too.

There are scented lubes and condoms, but they should probably be avoided because, although pretty tough, vaginas are sensitive to foreign chemicals.

In my opinion, the extra tang added by condoms to the smell of sex is a small sacrifice to pay for safer sex.

3. Vaginal Liquids

Unless you have your own reasons, chances are vaginal liquids don’t really see the light of day. Since you never really smell it, the aroma of a vagina is noticeable to passing noses while you’re doing the deed. But she’s also producing more of it to accommodate your knight in shining armor. Comprised of mainly mucus, protein as well as water and vaginal bacteria, vaginal fluid can have a distinct smell during sex.

The smell of vaginal fluid also depends on diet, lifestyle and what stage of the menstrual cycle she’s at. Now don’t get me wrong, human genitals aren’t meant to smell like a damn lavender and rosemary candle, but particularly off-putting smells may be a sign that there’s something going on. Smell largely depends on the pH of the vagina, and all those factors we listed before influence the acidity of vaginal fluid. Interestingly, an unbalanced pH can also be caused by infections as well as certain soaps.

To cap off this section, I wanna say that not all vaginas are created equal. Every vagina has its unique odor. Some even have no odor at all. Regardless, vaginal liquids can contribute to the smell of sex.

4. Semen

Don’t think you guys were off the hook. In fact, there are plenty of Google searches every month for the phrase "What does sperm smell like?", so you;re clearly interested. Just like how the vagina can add to the knockin’ boots aroma cocktail, your semen can also play a pretty big part. Aside from your hundred-million future kids, semen contains:

  • Fructose: a sugar usually found in fruit
  • Chemicals that help make sperm more mobile
  • Cholesterol
  • Zinc

All of this comes together to create a certain smell that I just can’t put my nose on. But semen does have a smell, and it’s alkaline too (opposite of acidic). So when you have alkaline semen mixing with acidic vaginal liquid, you get…that smell. It’s unmistakeable. When the fluids mix, they create a unique smell based on the pH of each individual person involved.

Essentially, the vagina smells, semen smells, and when they come together, they create a unique smell – the smell of sex.

5. Unique Smells

Finally, you can’t forget about the smell of the people that are having the sex. If you’ve never noticed, people usually have distinct smells. Whether that’s because of their diet, cooking, lifestyle, cologne, perfume, car, dog, lotion and so on. When they come together and start going at it, their unique smells can also combine in the air and contribute to the sex smell we all know and love.

Ultimately, the smell of sex is hard to pinpoint. It’s a beautiful cocktail made from sweat, latex and lube, vaginal liquid, semen and, well, people. Those individual smells are then influenced by diet and lifestyle. So while I may not be a poet or a scientist, like I said before, I now definitely know that the smell of sex is a unique combination of lots of things. And it’s kind of sweet, isn’t it?

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