Sex and Pancakes

Dear Melissa,

Men’s ejaculate taste varies based on the diet, right? Does the same apply to women’s fluid?

—Aftertaste

Dear Aftertaste,

Diet affects taste pretty similarly in both men and women, but it’s not as simple as eating an apple and having your partner taste it an hour later (although some people have claimed to have done so).

It’s usually a more subtle change, and in some cases not even that noticeable. This is because your taste isn’t only dependent on what you eat but also your body and health (cleanliness, infections, etc.).

A very small percentage of semen is actually sperm (only 2-5%) and about 65-75% of semen is made up of nutrients that help protect the sperm. These nutrients include amino acids, citrate, enzymes, flavins, fructose, proteins, citric acid, zinc and several others that aren’t worth trying to pronounce. The main point is that many of these things are derived from the food we eat and therefore can affect how we taste.

Taste can also be incredibly subjective, so it’s hard to say what would help you taste good, but accordingly to popular consensus, these are thing you should avoid:

*1. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and coffee are known to make cum taste pretty bad.

*2. Red meat and dairy products contribute to the saltiness of semen.

*3. Garlic, onion, veggies from the cabbage family, broccoli and asparagus.

And things you should go for:

*1. Fruits such as lemon, pineapple, apples, cranberries, melons and grapes are high in natural sugars so they sweeten the taste.

*2. Most veggies (the more natural the foods, the better). Parsley, wheatgrass and celery are mentioned a lot. *3. Lots and lots of water!

As always, it’s a little more complicated for women. Food does affect how we taste, but we have other major contributors—like our menstrual cycle.

In terms of diet, a woman’s taste is affected by the same foods/habits as men, so the above list applies to them too. Pineapple and citrus-based juices come highly recommended to be sweeter between the legs.

Another big factor in how a woman tastes is her cleaning habits. No, I don’t mean that not showering will result in a terrible tasting vagina. I’d hope that’s fairly obvious. What I mean is that cleaning too much can be just as bad. Basically, the interior of the vagina tries to maintain a very specific pH level in order to keep itself clean, usually around 4.5 making it acidic. This is your body’s way of self-cleaning so to speak. Yes, much like those fancy new ovens.

However, trying to clean inside your vagina through douching, for example, can upset this pH balance. This indirectly leads to a bad taste because upset pH level can equal a bacterial infection. Nobody can expect a bacterial infection to taste good (or smell good for that matter). So basically using soaps with lower pH levels and not being too vigorous with vaginal cleanings can help not only your taste but also your vagina’s overall health.

The problem is that all this taste business involves a lot of speculation. So, I’d propose a sort of science project: drink pineapple juice every day for a month and then give your partner a taste test! It’s kind of like the Pepsi Challenge, but less kid friendly. Plus, many people have claimed to notice a change!

It’s worth noting that many of the habits that will apparently make you taste better also just lead to overall better health. So it seems like, ultimately, that may be the key.

When you think about it, oral sex is a pretty easy thing to get insecure about. Personally, I find it even more intimate than penetration if only because the act of being tasted puts us in such a vulnerable position. Therefore insecurity is understandable, but you shouldn’t let it get in the way of your sex life. So next time someone’s down there, remember that the way we all smell and taste is often said to be a natural aphrodisiac meant to attract our partners.

—Melissa Fuller

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 16, published November 30, 2010.

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