Some of those who are attracted to the female armpit prefer it to be unshaven.

Armpit fetishism (also known as maschalagnia or axillism (also spelled axilism)) is a type of partialism in which a person is sexually attracted to armpits,[1] which may lead to armpit intercourse (sexual activity with one or both armpits).[2]


People smelling armpits

The natural body smell is a powerful force in sexual attraction,[3] and can be focused by the strong pungent odor of the armpit: Alex Comfort considered that for a woman to shave her armpits was “simply ignorant vandalism”, obliterating a powerful sexual tool, and praised the French for greater sexual awareness than American deodorant culture in this regard.[4]

A woman's armpits, armpit hair, and secretions can be seen as essential components of their femininity, whether this is positively[5] or negatively valued.[6] Havelock Ellis found evidence that (in a non-sexual context) smelling one's own armpit could act as a temporary energy boost.[7]

Certain pheromones found in armpit sweat, namely androstadienone is shown to improve mood when smelled or licked according to a 2013 study.[8]


Others may prefer shaved.

Those who have a mild fetish for armpits often enjoy licking, kissing, tasting, tickling and smelling their partner's armpits during sexual foreplay, perhaps asking partners not to shower or wash their armpits nor wear deodorant for a period of hours or even days.

The symbolic equation of armpit and vagina may underpin the fetish, as also the odor.[9] Sigmund Freud saw such fetishism as becoming problematic only when such preparatory acts substituted totally for intercourse as a final goal.[10]


Bagpiping is a sexual practice in which the penis is stimulated by someone else's armpit. The name comes from the manner of how bagpipes are played.

Stressing the importance in bagpiping of the (unlubricated) friction being confined to the penile shaft, Alex Comfort saw armpit intercourse as "Not an outstandingly rewarding trick but worth trying if you like the idea".[11]

Problems may, however, arise in a relationship when penis to armpit contact becomes an exclusive sexual necessity for the armpit fetishist – something which can produce long-term sexual desire disorder in a couple.[12]

Literary associations

See also


  1. ^ Aggrawal, Anil (2008). Forensic and Medico-Legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. CRC Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-4200-4308-2.
  2. ^ D. A. Voorhees, Quickies (2004) p. 122
  3. ^ Alex Comfort, The Joy of Sex (1974) p. 71
  4. ^ Alex Comfort, The Joy of Sex (1974) pp. 71-3 and p. 98
  5. ^ Nancy Friday, Women on Top (1991) p. 195
  6. ^ Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (1972) p. 590
  7. ^ Ellis, Havelock (1905). "Sexual Selection in Man". Studies in the Psychology of Sex. 4: 64–67. ISBN 978-1-55445-828-8.
  8. ^ Verhaeghe, J.; Gheysen, R.; Enzlin, P. (2013). "Pheromones and their Effect on Women's Mood and Sexuality". Facts, Views & Vision in ObGyn. 5 (3): 189–195. PMC 3987372. PMID 24753944.
  9. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) pp. 342-3
  10. ^ Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality (PFL 7) pp. 68-70
  11. ^ Alex Comfort, The Joy of Sex (1974) p. 119
  12. ^ L. C. Long et al., Sexuality Counselling (2005) p. 222
  13. ^ Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex (2004) vol. 4, p. 65
  14. ^ Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex (2004) vol. 4, p. 65
  15. ^ G. Legman, Rationale of the Dirty Joke Vol. II (1973) pp. 148-9