Q. Boyfriend and I are in our mid-20s and have been dating for two years. We’ve begun to move forward on the physical side of our relationship, but this is first-time territory for both of us. Being of the nerd persuasion, both of us have done a great deal of reading on the internet about sex and sexuality, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about personal limits, preferences, what we’re willing to try, etc. He and I are both well aware that bodies neither smell nor taste like lemonade and are fine with that, but I’m still trying to figure out a good “personal policy” on genital cleanliness.
Obviously I shower regularly, but oral sex involves mouths on or near places that usually expel waste products and I wondered how the lovely ladies of Persephone deal with this. Do I just ignore it and figure that toilet paper does the trick? Should I wash every time I use the bathroom? Schedule all encounters so as to “freshen up” ahead of time? Stop midway through things to grab a washcloth? Shave everything off and douse myself in Purell? The same or similar questions apply to him.
A. My love, I would first like to applaud y’all’s commitment to giving each other the greatest gift of all: sweet, clean genitalia to be nibbling on. There is something always quite spectacular about freshly showered bodies coming together for sexual healing that brings warmth to my heart. It’s not that I think day-old bodies and such can’t have an equally great time without having to scrub down the fortress, but raise a hand if you have had the misfortune of wandering into a ripe old ball sack or similar genitalia that has just got that “Damn, chica, when is the last time you took a bath?” smell.
I kid. It’s a personal topic and almost everyone has a preference for how they like their partner to smell. Some folks don’t mind the ripe aroma basenotes of hard-working genitalia since that can be much like an aged wine. Some folks prefer things a little more fresh and scrubbed. There is no “one” way anyone should smell, albeit the loophole to this argument being, if either of you smell incredibly bad, followed by other signs of infection, please go see a doctor. Everyone has a different smell, but also different ways of sweating and dealing with fabrics on their bodies (especially in the crotch region). Everyone also has a different degree to which they sweat.
Smells aside, it is also quite nice to be able to go down on your partner without evidence of the day hanging around. Dingle-berries, toilet paper bits, etc. We are all human, and sometimes it just works out that we might have a little something in our general area that our partner might find and that’s that. But for the most part, following the golden rule seems to be the best bet: do unto your genitals as you would want others to do unto theirs. That’s the loose translation. Sort of. Either way, the idea should be: if you were going down on someone, think about what would make it enjoyable for you.
Now, as far as trimming pubic hair goes, again, it is all personal preference. I think pubic hair trimming can be a heavy topic, mostly because of the way porn-style chic has infiltrated the masses and created the expectation that most women be bare as the day they were born. Everyone seems so interested in telling women what to do with their pubes! It’s like, what are you, my mom, get out of here. The best thing you can do is just give the pubes a little trim every now and then, just to keep stray hairs from the important parts you want easy access to. Other than that, you can go as long or as short as you both please, depending on what you think works best.
Now, let’s talk Purell. Girl, put the Purell down. Your vagina is a self-cleaning fun factory of epic proportions. Douching and washing inside your vagina is a hell no. Washing your labia majora (major lips) and your anus with water works fantastic, but if you insist on soap, a mild one would be best, and only on the outside of your genitals. Your vagina has a specific pH that keeps everything running smoothly. Despite what Summer’s Eve might have you believe, douching can lead to an imbalance of natural bacteria in your vagina, leading to infection. Seriously, don’t douche. Gentleman have plumbing that’s a wee bit less sensitive to pH differences, but if your partner is uncut, it’s good to get that soaped up every now and then so that he doesn’t pass on any hidden bacteria to you.
Other than that kitten, the world is pretty much your oyster. You and your partner seem to be having important conversations on wants, needs, and expectations, as well as what’s important as far as general sexual courtesy for one another (i.e. is my junk clean?) Kudos to y’all. In the end, all advice aside, it is both of you who get to decide what works and what presentable junk looks like. Nothing is better than that.