Cleanliness Is Next To…Sex

One of the most common reasons my patients decline an invitation for sex is that they don’t like the smell of their partner’s breath or body.

I don’t know what’s more amazing, that people initiate sex when they haven’t brushed their teeth, or that people say “no” without adding, “you know, if you brush your teeth I might say yes.”

While you don’t need to be squeaky clean to be sexually appealing, most everyone draws a line between “my partner smells like a real man or woman” and “ick, my partner smells bad.” Similarly, there’s a point at which “really casual” crosses the line into downright “slovenly.”

And let’s face it: dirt is dirty. Too much dirt and you don’t feel, look, smell, or taste good to someone else. In fact, the mammal in each of us instinctively turns away from dirt, no matter how much we love the person under the dirt.

Presenting your partner with an attractive-smelling and nice-tasting body is sensible for you. It’s also a demonstration of caring and empathy. When you expect your partner to lick something that tastes used, or smell something that’s musty and old, it’s a statement of disrespect – “I don’t care enough about your experience to make it a pleasant one.” Nobody likes that.

Then of course there are germs. Not just sex-related ones – regular germs, the kind you pick up when you handle money, take out the trash, use the bathroom, hold a garden hose, exercise at the YMCA. You know, when you’re alive and doing normal stuff. That’s one of the ways people get colds, of course.

Which brings us to the excellent advice you’re now hearing everywhere: Wash your hands. If you’re putting a few fingers inside someone, or on someone, make sure they’re clean. Fingers that have been turning newsprint pages or google pages need a quick wash before turning into little sex tools. If you want your fingers sucked, washing will make the digits more inviting.

What about sex during someone’s period? No problem. Take the tampon out, use a damp, warm washcloth, put a towel on the bed, and you’re ready to go. A little mess never hurt anyone, and that washcloth (which a partner can wield as expertly as milady can) will leave a vulva ready to lick and nibble. After all, most oral sex doesn’t involve the vagina itself.

Shaving? If a man’s partner’s face or thighs are sensitive, a quick shave will probably be welcome. It doesn’t have to be a perfect Monday morning shave, just enough to make a face more inviting than irritating. Since men typically don’t stroke their own faces with a soft body part, they can forget just how scratchy two days’ growth can be.

If you’re like many people, you’re thinking “Yeah, I might ever tell someone to brush their teeth,” or “Sure, get a warm washcloth and say honey, let me swab you down so I can lick you. Right.”

And then we’re right back to a central question we keep discussing: Isn’t it interesting that people will have sex with someone when they don’t feel comfortable discussing personal things (hygiene, back pain, too much teeth during oral sex, whatever). It proves, yet again, that there’s something more intimate than sex – talking about sex.

Trust your partner and the magic of communication. Let your partner know what you need from him or her, and do a couple of things to make your body more enjoyable to your partner – even if you have to leap up from kissing or caressing and say “wait, I’ll be right back, don’t finish without me!”

Pee before sex. Pee after sex. Admit that we have sex with our bodies. And to make sex more enjoyable, clean up that body just a little bit.

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