Dear Em & Lo,
My husband and I have been been sexually active with one another for five years. I’ve been smoking cigarettes for four years. I slowed down dramatically when I got pregnant in 2007 (from needing my own pack to two cigarettes a day or none at all). My husband didn’t know about my smoking while pregnant. (My daughter was born very healthy weighing 7lbs and 15oz and measuring 19 1/2 in.) After I gave birth to her I went back to needing my own pack and my diet changed to eating whatever I wanted. That’s when my husband slowed down with oral on me.
I am working on quitting cigarettes and I am proud of myself because I’m doing better than I did when I was prego. I’m watching what I’m eating, too. Now I can’t really remember what I smelled and tasted like when we first started dating. But I know he LOVED going down on me. I don’t smell bad and I don’t taste bad. But he’s not going down on me frequently anymore, so I KNOW my taste and smell is not the same.
I’ve been reading different things on the internet for the past two/three hours and everyone is saying the same thing. “Eat more fruit and vegetables.” I don’t need to be told to stop smoking because this I already know will affect my body in more than many ways. It’s been said to get pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and strawberries in your diet. And vegetables, too. Like asparagus. For one, I don’t know how to eat it. I HAVE tried it once in my cooking class back in high school and I didn’t like it. And I don’t know what other vegetables to eat. We eat baked beans, corn, mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad — I know these are not even really considered veggies.
I am also a little concerned with the decrease in self lube I am producing. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes I need more. We tried lube you buy from the store and we do not like it. I have a really good hunch that this also has something to do with what I’m putting in my body.
In general, I want to get my body to a more healthy state and get better benefits in the bedroom, too. Any advice or facts are greatly appreciated.
Mrs. Potato Head
Dear Mrs. P.,
It sounds like you already know what you have to do (at least for the most part). But sometimes it helps to have an objective third party confirm it. So here we go…
Infection: First of all, to be on the safe side, you should visit your gynecologist and get yourself checked out for any infections or STDs that might be affecting your vaginal taste/smell. Everything may feel just fine and dandy down there, but an infection could be secretly and subtly throwing things off.
Smoking: Quit now! (We know you know, but it bears repeating.) This is the single most important move you can make to help improve your health. We know it’s hard — harder than kicking heroine! — but you’ve got to do it. Nicotine restricts blood flow, which is essential to genital arousal. The chronic coughing you get from smoking can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which can make penetration less enjoyable for both of you. In addition, smoking makes your whole body stink, stains your teeth, and gives you premature wrinkles — all things most people would consider decidedly unsexy. But beyond your own sex life, let’s thinks about your daughter: Hugging a parent who smokes is a total bummer. Plus, it’s a terrible example to set for her. Do whatever you have to to quit; check out the American Cancer Society for support and resources.
Diet: You reek what you eat. The most serious offenders are cigarettes, coffee, junk food, and drugs. And if you’re really serious about improving your taste down there, you could try cutting back on alcohol, spicy foods, processed foods, and red meat, too. (It’s anecdotal, but we’ve heard vegetarians taste better.) Undoubtedly, the stuff about fresh fruit and vegetables is true (except asparagus — that stuff will make your pee smell like wet cardboard!). Try kiwi, strawberries, and, most especially, pineapple — those certainly couldn’t hurt your personal flavor. (In addition, lots of green vegetables — broccoli, kale and collard greens, zucchini, leafy lettuce and not iceberg, etc — will help fend off age-related problems.) You could also see if cinnamon does anything for you. And make sure you’re drinking plenty of water — it helps flush your system and keeps you hydrated. And getting enough fiber in your diet will keep your poos firm, which means happier, cleaner exits, which means more confidence having your nooks and crannies explored. The foods you mentioned eating don’t have a lot of nutritional value: baked beans are full of sugar, fresh corn is okay but it isn’t really a nutritional powerhouse, mashed potatoes are all starch and butter, and Caesar salad is usually drenched in high fat dressing. Instead, try a veggie chili to get your bean-protein intake, sweet potatoes or yams which are way more vitamin-rich than regular potatoes, and do a natural balsamic vinaigrette dressing rather than something creamy. For more healthy eating ideas, check out EatingWell.com and GillianMcKeith.info.
Lubrication: Smoking can reduce your estrogen levels which can reduce your lubrication. But there are many other factors which can impact how wet you get, even when you’re into the sex: medications, age, time of the month, douching (a no-no, even for smokers!), hormonal changes due to childbirth or breastfeeding. Also, if you’re self-conscious about your body (and the way it smells), that can inhibit arousal which can inhibit natural lubrication. Whatever the reason, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little man-made liquid to the mix. There are a TON of different kinds of lubes out there, so please don’t write the product off completely because you guys didn’t like one. Try an affordable sample pack from GoodVibes to see what works best for you two — when you find one you like, we think it’ll really improve things.
Exercise: We might as well cover it all! The good cardiovascular health, flexibility, endurance, positive body image, and natural endorphins you get from regular exercise may not affect your smell and taste, but you’ll certainly be able to enjoy sex more — you can get into different positions easily, go longer, leave the lights on, etc. And some say sweating regularly helps rid your body of toxins, which couldn’t hurt things downtown.
Communication: You should talk to your husband about why he’s not going downtown anymore. Maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe he’s uncomfortable getting that up close and personal with what has now become a birth canal. You won’t know for sure until you talk about it. Just be gentle and non-confrontational — and ask that he give you the same respect before you start. Let him know about the lifestyle changes you’d like to make to improve your (sex) life and hopefully he’ll support you by cooking with you, eating the same healthy foods as you, distracting you when you feel the need for a cigarette, encouraging you not to give in to temptations, etc.
Now you definitely know what you need to do, so go out there and do it!
The Marlboro Man and Ronald McDonald can go fuck themselves,
Em & Lo