Things are getting kind of hot and heavy with this guy I’m seeing. We’ve only made out so far, but I have recently been thinking about trying oral sex. I’m worried about the taste of my bodily fluids. I’ve heard pineapple juice might help oral sex be more enjoyable for the giver: Is this true?
— Flavorful Fluid
Dear Flavorful Fluid,
Thank you for reaching out with your question! It’s completely normal to have questions and occasional insecurities about our bodies when it comes to sexual experiences, especially new ones. Regarding any type of sexual activity, including oral sex, it’s important to reflect on your personal wants and needs and to have open and respectful communication with your partner(s).
Oral sex encompasses a range of activities: cunnilingus, the oral stimulation of the vulva; fellatio, the oral stimulation of a penis; or anilingus, colloquially called “rimming”, oral stimulation of the anus. It’s common for the person giving oral sex to encounter various tastes and sensations as every body has its own unique flavor profile, and it can change depending on many variables — including diet, hydration, supplements or medications, hygiene, or infection. As for your question about pineapple juice, there’s a belief that consuming pineapple juice may make penile and vaginal secretions taste “better” — less bitter —, though it’s important to understand that many factors contribute to these tastes. Penile secretions are slightly alkaline, with a pH ranging between 7.1 and 8, which can lead to a slightly bitter taste. On the other hand, vaginal secretions are slightly acidic, with a pH between 3.8 and 4.5, resulting in a tangy taste. Your diet plays a significant role in the flavor of any bodily fluid, whether it be saliva, sweat, urine, seminal, or vaginal fluid. For example, foods such as garlic, onions, dairy, red meat, smoking, and alcohol can contribute to a more “bitter” taste. In the case of penile secretions, sugary liquids or foods, such as pineapple juice, can alter the fructose and glucose content, making them less alkaline and potentially less “bitter.” The taste of vaginal secretions is also strongly affected by the menstrual cycle. During menstruation, the presence of blood may give a “metallic” taste, while during ovulation, the release of cervical mucus can result in a “muskier” taste. In addition to diet, being on medications, such as antibiotics, or having an infection affect your pH levels, and impact your natural smell and taste.
Let’s also address this message that bodies and bodily secretions should taste or smell like something other than what they are. This strategy, used to sell products that promise to mask your natural scent or unique flavor, contributes to feelings of shame or insecurity about our naturally-existing bodies. Practicing general hygiene, like taking regular showers, wiping after using the bathroom, and wearing proper-fitting, breathable, clean underwear should ensure that your unique taste is natural. If your partner(s) makes comments about not liking your taste or uses it as an excuse to not give oral sex, a conversation might be in order. Together, with open communication, you can hopefully come up with creative and mutually-pleasing solutions.
It is also important to note that engaging in oral sex comes with risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI), like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, etc. To reduce risk, use a dental dam — a sheet of latex or polyurethane placed over the anus or vulva — to prevent skin-to-skin contact during cunnilingus or anilingus, or an external condom during fellatio. Condoms, dental dams, and water-based lube can come in different flavors, which can make things more exciting —chocolate mint, anyone? — and cover the taste of latex while simultaneously reducing risks. Many STIs are asymptomatic, meaning you can spread an STI without knowing it, so the best option is for you to use barrier methods, and/or get screened for STIs with your partner(s) and s hare your results with one another. You can do self-directed STI testing through UHS, since you are asymptomatic, or you can make an appointment with Sexual Health and Wellness at UHS through your MyUHS online portal.
Ultimately, personal preferences and sexual experiences can vary widely. Open and honest communication with your partner, respect for each other’s boundaries, and consent in all activities are most important. If your partner notices a change and brings it up in a considerate manner, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation about your well-being. However, if you find yourself in a situation where your partner constantly makes disparaging comments or uses this as an excuse to avoid certain activities, it’s important to prioritize your own self-respect and comfort. Partners should approach these topics with empathy and respect for each other.
Information obtained from Healthline, National Library of Medicine, Men’s Health, University Health Services, and Mayo Clinic.