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Sniffing Out the Elusive ‘Hawaiian Mushroom Orgasm’

Legend has it that one whiff of the rare fungus causes women to spontaneously orgasm, but when it comes to proving it, scientists are still struggling to reach a climax

Ah, the female orgasm — so allegedly mysterious that men are trying to hypnotize themselves to experience it, and yet so easy to achieve that it can be done, literally, at the push of a button, or, as it turns out, via a sniff of a very specific mushroom. And no, I’m not talking about shroom-shaped dicks, I’m talking about an actual mushroom that exists in Hawaii.

This is a story that, every few years, makes its way around the internet, causing a new, orgasm-induced furor each time. It all began in 2001, when two scientists published a study that claimed there’s a mushroom called “Māmalu o Wahine” that grows on top of 600- to 1,000-year-old lava flows in Hawaii which, when smelt, causes women to orgasm instantly. If you’re already thinking, “That sounds too good to be true,” you’re right — but bear with me as I explain.

According to a Science Alert article published in 2015 — when the study last gained viral notoriety — the sexually-magic mushroom supposedly belongs to the Dictyophora genus of the pungent stinkhorn mushrooms (since renamed Phallus… make of that what you will). It’s got a thick white stalk, a kind of crochet-like veil and a textured orange tip and is described by the scientists as “particularly difficult to find.” Nevertheless, they tracked some down, and tested their alleged aphrodisiac qualities by conducting a “smell test” on 16 female and 10 male participants. As per the results, six of the women were said to have experienced a mild spontaneous orgasm, while 10 experienced an increased heart rate. The men apparently all said the mushroom smelt disgusting.

You shouldn’t believe everything you read, however. As Science Alert pointed out, there’s “a bunch of problems with this claim,” including the small sample size and lack of hard scientific evidence that orgasms actually did happen. In 2016, a journalist at Discover Magazine traveled to Hawaii to test the theory, only to find that the mushroom in question made her “nearly vomit.”

Still, as the story appears to be trending once more, it’s clear that people don’t care about the facts — just the memes. “I read there’s a mushroom in Hawaii that causes women to orgasm when they smell it,” one Twitter user recently wrote. “Needless to say, I’m packing my bags.” Another person joked: “First pineapple on pizza, now the orgasm mushroom. Hawaii just gives and gives.”

On TikTok, creators are pretending to offer all their money in exchange for one sweet sniff of the orgasm-inducing mushroom, rehashing old Facebook comments for likes, and questioning, “What happens if you eat it?” — which now I’m desperate to know.

Anyway, although it’s probably bullshit, if you ever find yourself atop the lava flows of Hawaii, and you look down and see the ugly-looking Māmalu o Wahine, please give it a big sniff and report back to the internet — we’re all dying to know if you came.