Do you worry about your smell or taste? Our community responds.
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hey friends. I often talk about how it’s okay to get in a middle of a sexual act, realize you don’t want to continue and change course. If you and your partner are extremely connected, they might feel the shift in your energy before you even say anything or sometimes before you even realize you want it. But a lot of couples don’t have innate sense of each other and it’s totally okay if you don’t. It just means that you need to use your words and your body language in a more conscious way.
I’m going to talk to you about how I approach these interactions with my partner because they happen with some frequency. First, let’s start with the very basics. You are allowed to change your mind in a middle of a sexual interaction no matter what you’ve done before, no matter how far you’ve gone, no matter if you did the same thing last week and loved it. Consent means that you are consenting in each and every moment to continue going forward and what you enjoy last week may be completely different today. Based on your mental state, your hormones, your stress levels, and a million other things.
Okay, now that I know want to adjust, I pull away a few inches from my boyfriend while still keeping a hand on him. If we’re kissing, that means I pull my face away but I keep my hand on his arm or his chest. If we’re having intercourse and he’s on top of me, I don’t have anywhere to go so I might turn my face slightly away, put my hand on his chest to exert a tiny bit of pressure, letting him know I need to stop but also having my hand on his skin so he continues to feel our connection.
Then I say, “I need a moment to breathe” or I might say, “Can we breathe together for just a minute?” And then, I breathe. For real. Don’t forget this step. It helps me to get grounded back in my senses whether I’ve been in sex brain or grocery list making brain or triggered trauma brain, taking a moment to consciously breathe helps me climb back into my senses and sort out what I need because it’s not unusual for me to know that I need to stop doing one thing without yet knowing what I want the next suggestion to be.
If I need a moment where old trauma has been triggered and I need to stop right now, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, that moment of breathing helps me build the courage to say it. I’ll usually say something like, “Oh, shit. Something came up in my brain and I think I’m going to cry. Can you cuddle me for a couple of minutes?” That way he knows exactly what’s going on and isn’t left wondering whether he did something wrong. But it’s also clear enough to say, “I’m not in sexy space anymore and I need you to transition out of sexy space with me.”
On the other hand, I might want to stop because my body is tired or my brain can’t focus or some other thing that is not trauma related. So once I’ve gotten a hold of my senses through breathing for a moment, I can say something like, “I think my body is ready to be done.” This makes it about my needs rather than any failure on his part.
And then, I’d say, “Would you like me to give you a blow job?” Now, I’m pretty much always up for giving him a blow job but I know that’s not true for everyone. The question is what can you offer to your partner that gives them pleasure without violating the needs of your body and your brain? A hand job? To turn on the porn and hold them while they finish themselves? Or read them a sexy story while they finish themselves? There are lots of options that allow you to take care of the needs of your body while also giving your partner the satisfaction they desire.
If I just need to change what we’re doing but not stop my participation all together, that moment of breathing gives me the time to check in, figure what I want, and say it to him. Like, “Sheesh, my body is not responding to this today. How about we try something else?” Again, putting it in terms of my body and my experience keeps my partner from thinking they’ve done something wrong.
And here’s the thing, you are not responsible for how your partner responds. As long as you are owning your own experience, speaking from a place of compassion for your own body and needs and not shaming your partner. If they get angry or upset, that’s not yours.
There are so many messages to men in our culture that as soon as sexual interaction starts, that means they are entitled to end it. They deserve to have an orgasm and ejaculation. And we’ve taught both men and women that if she changes her mind mid-course that’s horrible. She’s a tease. She deserves whatever she gets or so many other awful things. But it’s not true. Just because we start something, doesn’t obligate us to finish it. Let me repeat. Consent means that you are consenting in each and every moment to continue going forward. It is active and ongoing.
Think of it like dropping a child off at a birthday party. Just because you dropped them off at the beginning, doesn’t mean they’re obligated to stay for the whole thing. You’ll say to that child, “Now, if you’re not having fun, call me and I’ll come pick you up.” And we don’t shame that child for taking advantage of that.
We need to do the same thing for ourselves and our bodies. I created a little guide to walk you through these steps that you can print out and keep it near your bed if you’d like. I find that it’s useful to know the words and practice them in a cool moment before I ever need them so my brain has a sense memory of having said them. That way it’s easier to trust myself to say them when I’m in a hot moment. The guide includes some sample sentences you can memorize as that will help you have the words in the moment you need at the moment you need to make a change. You can download it at leahcarey.com/takeabreathand and that link is in the Show Notes.
So you may be asking, why am I telling you all of this right now? It was a long walk to a very short point. When I started making these solo episodes a few months ago, it turns out I bit off more than I could chew and it has just occurred to me that rather than suffering through the behemoth I had created, I can change course. I’m going to change the format of the solo episodes to make them a little easier on myself. I’m going to relax a bit on the structure.
There are still going to be lowdown deep dives, am I normal questions and podcast recommendations. But I won’t do everything in every episode. I’m going to let myself be a little more fluid on how these solo episodes go, so there’s more room for other thoughtful interjections like what you heard two weeks ago about medical consent violations. I want these solo episodes to feel more organic and I’m also excited that my workload will be more manageable.
And speaking of the Am I Normal questions, I love to have you call in and leave a message. A friend reminded me the other day that it might be important for you to know that when you call 720-GOOD-SEX, a real person will not answer the phone. You’ll get a voice mail reminding you that leaving a message you’re giving me consent to air your question and my answer on a future episode. You don’t need to leave your name and since I don’t have an idea of who calls, you’ll be completely anonymous. Again, that number is 720-GOOD-SEX. I’d love to hear your questions about your sex life, your sexual desires, and anything else to do with female sexuality.
LEAH: I want to invite you to imagine for a moment what your ideal sex life looks and feels like.
Who are you with?
What type of sex do you have together?
How do you feel while touching them?
How does your body feel when they touch you?
Or … would you like to have LESS sex than you’re currently having?
If you don’t know, or if that vision of your ideal doesn’t look at all like what’s currently going on in your bedroom, I can help.
With personalized sex and intimacy coaching, we’ll explore where you are, where you want to be, and the steps to help you get there. There are no right or wrong answers, just the answers that work FOR YOU.
I understand that exploring your sexuality and all that goes with it – your body image, your belief in your lovability, and more – can be terrifying. Believe me, I sat in the middle of that fire for decades. I know how painful it is. But I also stepped out the other side, stronger, more confident, and more certain of my own lovability and desirability. You can do the same.
I work with couples and one-on-one – whether you’ve never explored your sexual desires before, or you want to explore things you’ve never done before like BDSM or non-monogamy, or if you and your partner need some help figuring out how to communicate together about sex.
I am queer, kinky, and poly friendly.
I want you to have a deeply fulfilling intimate life, and together we can help you get there.
For more information and to schedule your free Discovery Call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. A new client recently said that before her Discovery Call she was extremely nervous, but that I made the experience feel easy and comfortable.
Book your free Discovery Call today at www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
LEAH: And now on to today’s main topic. Do you ever worry about how you smell or taste? Here is a collage of voices from the people I’ve interviewed and I’ll be back with my own answer in a few minutes.
SPEAKER 1: Yes.
SPEAKER 2: During the day, I spray my inner thighs because my thighs touch and I sweat in that area so I spray myself with deodorant spray. Other than that, I just try and wash with a feminine wash when I take a shower. There’s not too much worrying that I do but yeah, I do worry a bit.
SPEAKER 3: Not really. If I’m like, it’s been a long day, whatever, I might hop in the shower but I’m not obsessive about it because he’s my partner and he enjoys me whenever he can get me.
SPEAKER 4: Yes. I am definitely one for at least wiping up a bit before coming to bed if I think I’m going to have sex with my husband.
SPEAKER 5: Yes. Yes. So much. In fact, if I know that someone’s going to go down on me, I want to take a shower or ask him to shower with me because at least I’m fresh down there.
SPEAKER 6: Yeah. I do. Definitely a thing I talk about with some of my girlfriends recently, was like do you get those days where you can smell yourself? Like for some reason, you’ll be wearing full jeans and everything and you crouch down and you get a whiff of yourself. You’re like, “What the fuck.”
SPEAKER 6: I hate it. I really hate it. It does not turn me on at all. I do not like kissing him after.
LEAH: And is he okay with that?
SPEAKER 6: I mean I think he’s just used to it, yeah.
SPEAKER 7: Yes and I don’t know if it’s this whole perimenopausal thing but lately I feel like I smell all The time. I’d just be sitting at my desk and I’d be like, “What do I smell?” And she says she can’t smell it, which is a good thing, but I really feel like, “Ugh.” Yes, I do worry about it.
SPEAKER 8: All the time. All the time. That is probably one of my biggest sexual insecurities before we do anything sexual, I have to go, and even if I’m already showered, I have to clean down there real quick. Yeah.
SPEAKER 9: No because I take care of myself and I’m healthy so no.
SPEAKER 10: Yeah. For sure. My wife is a fairly honest person about that like if she knows something seems like it’s not health wise, you probably want to get that checked out. She’s pretty honest about telling me that kind of thing without hurting my feelings. She has had to tell me that kind of thing but I don’t worry about it so much.
SPEAKER 11: I love the smell. I love the smell.
SPEAKER 12: Occasionally, yeah. It’s generally because you’re working the garden or whatever, you come in and you’re all sweaty and they’re like, “Hey baby” and you’re like, “No.”
SPEAKER 13: It’s very erotic to me and I can’t even believe that I can say that because before having lesbian experiences, I would think that was gross. To me, fluids were gross. I don’t like it. I didn’t like going down on my husband. I tried to avoid it. I didn’t like him going down on me because in my mind, “No. I don’t like any of this.” But I don’t know, with her maybe it’s because I love her and I’m accepting of who I am and I’m actually being myself. I think it’s so erotic. It’s amazing and she likes the same. I’ll be going down on her and then she’ll say come kiss me and I’ll kiss her and it’s just so sexual.
SPEAKER 14: I’ve gotten to the point where I really like it like I love to suck it off his dick. Or smell on his beard.
SPEAKER 15: I love it. It’s actually one of my favorite things about him going down on me is tasting myself on his lips. I love it.
SPEAKER 15: Yeah.
LEAH: Wow. And I bet he finds that really sexy too.
SPEAKER 15: I think so, yeah.
SPEAKER 16: I actually hate oral sex.
LEAH: You hate receiving it?
SPEAKER 16: Oh, yes.
LEAH: Why is that?
SPEAKER 16: I think that all stems back to the sexual molestation from when I was a kid like don’t touch me down there. Period.
SPEAKER 17: It doesn’t bother me. I think they’re okay. Yeah. It doesn’t bother me at all.
SPEAKER 18: A little bit of feeling like my partner is lying when he says it tastes good. It’s like one of those dirty talk things and they’re like, “Mmm. It tastes so good.”
SPEAKER 18: And I’m like, “Well, I taste like a body. I don’t feel like you need to exaggerate.”
LEAH: You’re so sweet.
SPEAKER 18: Yeah, and I’ve tasted and sometimes it’s kind of sour and I’m like, “No part of me would call it sweet.” I know it tastes different at different times. Hormones, if you’ve eaten different things can affect it, but to me, it takes me out of it instead of making me feel more comfortable. It kinds of make me feel like they’re kind of lying now and I’m like, “All right.” But I also recognize that due to being attracted and aroused, it might actually taste good to them. But when I’ve tasted myself, it tastes a span a whole huge spectrum. Sometimes, it tastes like nothing. Sometimes, it tastes sour or bitter. I’d never say sweet.
SPEAKER 19: It changes a lot throughout the cycle.
LEAH: Oh, really?
SPEAKER 19: Oh yeah. Also depending on what I eat, that changes the flavor. So I’m very aware of it.
SPEAKER 20: No, it feels good but I’m way too conscious about that. About smell and what it looks like, what it looks like down there.
SPEAKER 21: I used to. I don’t anymore.
LEAH: What’s the difference?
SPEAKER 21: I just feel like it’s a part of getting older that I just don’t care anymore.
SPEAKER 22: I do. I do worry about that but my guy loves the way I taste. I’m like, “That’s disgusting.”
SPEAKER 23: No. Opposite. Part of my whole accepting bodies which includes burps and farts of which I share a lot with the world
SPEAKER 24: Not even sexually, you know this. So yeah, I don’t have problems with the way that I smell or taste and people are allowed to have their preference like if I suppose If someone went down on me were like, “Oh yeah, I’m not really into the smell” then I would respect them but I would also question whether they actually like me.
SPEAKER 25: I did when I was younger for sure. But now, I know that I’ve gotten so much good feedback from so many men about how good I taste so there’s that.
SPEAKER 26: I used to when I was younger but now I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t know why like I’m much more free and more open about my body now.
LEAH: My turn. Have I ever worried about how I smell or taste? All the time. Those of us who were socialized as little girls grow up with so many messages about how women smell like fish or worse. In my younger years, I had issues with systemic yeast. By college, it turned into frequent yeast infections. Throughout high school, it manifested as an intense yeasty smell emanating from my nether regions.
I was aware of it all the time. I don’t know if others could smell it. I was too embarrassed to ever ask anyone. But it was so pronounced it was hard to believe that they didn’t. Quick yeast infection tangent. The first several years of yeast infections were absolute misery for me. Somewhere I came across the old remedy of peeling the clove of a raw garlic and stick it up the old hoo-hah. So I did. I left it there for about ten hours. It did absolutely nothing for the itching, burning or discharge. But for several days afterward, I couldn’t get away from the pungent odor of garlic emanating from deep inside my body. I’ve since read that this old wives’ tale had absolutely no scientific merit and I highly recommend that you don’t do it.
The home remedy that actually worked wonders for me though was boric acid. You can get pre-made suppositories or get loose Boric Acid powder and empty capsules and make your own. I’m putting a link to an article from Health Line in the Show Notes for anyone who wants more information.
Okay. Back to my original point. All of this early experience of funky vaginal smells along with the constant cultural messaging about how my natural smell was probably bad and so I should do something so my vulva smelled like flowers left me with a complex about how I smell. In a recent solo episode, I chronicled my tortured past with receiving oral sex. I’m sure that my fears about how I smell haven’t made those issues any better.
I’m someone who feels the need to shower every day, specifically because of my overt awareness of how my genitals smell. I am still constantly aware of how things smell even when I’ve got all my clothes on. I always feel kind of squelchy in there so I assume that I must also be smelly.
Last week, my boyfriend and I were hanging out on a Sunday, watching TV on the couch. I hadn’t showered and I’ve known him to be a hearty lad who is willing to indulge me with off-the-wall requests. So I explained to him that this whole do I smell terrible thing is somewhat I struggle with and it definitely has an impact on my ability to relax during oral sex. He reminded me that he always thinks that I smell fine when he goes down there. I told him I appreciate the validation but that when he’s in a sexy headspace I can’t trust that he’s telling me the truth because I know that there are other things at play.
But in that moment, hanging out in front of the TV, there wasn’t any sexual energy flying between us and due to my lack of a daily shower, I was feeling quite a ways over the musky line. So I asked him, “Will you smell me and tell me what you think?” “Sure,” he said with a look of bewilderment. And then, he turned back to the TV but I kept looking at him expectantly. “You mean, now?” He asked, turning back to me. “Yup,” I said. Now his look was pure confusion but he gaily lowered his sniffer down to my girly parts. “It smells fine to me,” he said.
He was so nonchalant about it that I have to believe he was telling me the truth. And he wasn’t angling for sex, so he didn’t have an ulterior motive. It doesn’t mean that I can completely throw out that old voice yet but gathering the courage to ask such an embarrassing question was a really big step forward.
LEAH: That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple podcasts or, if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls.
And remember there is a treasure trove of audio extras available FOR FREE at Patreon. Go to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. While listening to those extras is free, producing this show is not. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I’ll gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. I donate 10% of all Patreon proceeds to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are increasingly difficult to obtain.
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Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby.
I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco.
Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken.
As your Sex and Intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours, no matter what it looks like. To set up your free Discovery Call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
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