Dear Em & Lo,

Long story short: My partner refuses to perform cunnilingus on me, claiming that the taste is unpleasant.  Any suggestions on how to make it better? I've tried all the obvious hygiene solutions, including douching and internal feminine deodorants, but this seems not to improve it sufficiently for him.


Dear U,

Dump him.

Okay, alright, admittedly that's our very unhelpful knee-jerk advice regarding any guy unwilling to perform one of the most basic sex acts out there--oral--especially when it's the main route to orgasm for so many women, and especially especially when about 99.9 percent of men enjoy, indeed expect oral attention lavished on themselves. (In our nearly ten years of sex writing, we've only heard of ONE guy not enjoying the occasional BJ.)

That said, who are we to determine the sexual preferences of your boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter? Everyone is different. What turns one person on, turns another off: You say tomato, I say tomahto, you say cunnilingus, I say I'd rather eat a tomahto. If you can live without it (for every woman who needs oral to orgasm there's one who considers it a good time to file her nails), and he doesn't expect fellatio from you (hey, what's fair is fair), then have fun performing the 10,984 other sex acts out there together.

However, if you'd rather watch an entire episode of America's Got Talent than go without oral, and it really is an issue of flavor for your boyfriend (i.e. he's just not using that as an excuse to get out of something that has no physical pay off for him because deep-down he's a misogynist or man-child who believes vaginas are gross), then there are a few things you might try...

First of all, stop with the douching and the feminine deodorant sprays immediately! They upset the delicate chemical balance of your vagina and make you more susceptible to irritation and infection--all things that can give you a not-so-fresh feeling.

What you want to do is work from the inside out, not the other way around. You are what you eat, so cut out the gross stuff (cigarettes, drugs, caffeine, processed foods, hormone-riddled meat, and, if you can stand it, alcohol) and increase the good stuff (lots of water and fresh fruits and vegetables, especially pineapple, but not asparagus).

Next, assuming you're on some form of non-condom birth control, try using a condom during intercourse, or at least have him pull out, so his ejaculate is not left inside you, since this too can make things a bit funky. See, it's his fault! (Again, the pull-out method without a condom should only be used if you're using another form of dependable birth control and you two as a monogamous couple have decided, after getting tested together, that you trust each other to swap body fluids--not something to be done lightly.)

Find out from your boyfriend if the problem for him is, in part, a matter of texture. Perhaps a more high-maintenance grooming regimen would make things more pleasant for him. However, if he would like you to go the full monty, then he should be willing to undergo the same humiliating, painful, waxing process at the salon himself, spread butt cheeks and all (again, fair is fair).

Finally--and this is kinda obvious--shower immediately beforehand.

If you still feel that things aren't quite right for you down there, then you should definitely see your doctor to check for bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection, or STDs. Even if things are as they always were, it's still a good idea to have regular check-ups.

After a receiving a bill of good health, if he is still off-put by the aroma (so much of taste is tied into smell), then perhaps you two are simply not the best match, chemically speaking. Some studies have shown that we are hardwired to be attracted to the natural scent of people with immune systems different from our own and put off by the natural scent of people with similar immune systems--that's nature's way of ensuring that the people best suited to have strong offspring together will mate, while those likely to have babies with two heads don't. You might just have to accept that you weren't made for each other.

If it turns out he just wasn't made for cunnilingus, then you might just have to dump him.

'Liciously yours,
Em & Lo


The Stranger said:

I'm sorry, but a hetrosexual man that doesn't go down on the woman should be weeded out of society. Seriously.

I'm a man, and I'm sorry but any man that doesn't go down "because of the taste or smell" is a whiner. BE A MAN. You might find that you actually like it. Besides, around 70% of the time, going down on a woman is about the only way most of us are going to "get her off."

Listener said:

I wish I didn't have the exact opposite problem. I love cunnilingus (I'm a guy), but my wife ABHORS getting it and refuses to let herself get into it. (I have had success with other women before her who have enjoyed it thoroughly.) How about we trade? :)


One thing often left out of these discussions is that being on the pill frequently leaves a girl with constant low-level yeast infection. Here in the UK, nurses and doctors will only recommend treatment when it flares up. I'm sure it affects the taste of my lady bits, but on the other hand neither of us would rather go back to condoms. Plus being on the pill reportedly changes that magic immune-system-related chemistry that you mention, so it's misleading to imply that if your partner isn't keen on your smell you're genetically incompatible.

Mr L said:

I would like to know what the stats are on success of cunnilingus? i.e. I bet almost 50 percent of women a guy goes down on will stop the process at some point. This baffled me when I was younger. I got better with experience. Some women say it gets too sensitive. Sometimes she doesn't say, but you know the rhythm is off, technique is off, etc.

So my biggest complaint in all this is, the female needs to take some responsibility here. FEED back! let him know what you like and don't like. HELP! I guess some guys might get pissed if you 'show' them how. My point is, find some way to make it work, and I mean make it work well! at least one time. In other words make a deal, do what it takes for the home run. If after that, he is still like... OK, the orgasm was nice, I really dug feeling every muscle in your body flex around the tip of my tongue, and then gush in a full body orgasm... but I am not going down there again... that sucks...

well then at least you had one nice time : -)

Maybe I am wrong, maybe this guy can trip your trigger at the drop of a hat. But I doubt that. I doubt seriously he knows what treasures lie in wait.SHOW him the gold, and perhaps all of a sudden the stuffiness of the old treasure chest will no longer be a show stopper.

Bart said:

Why didn't you suggest the use of a flavored dental dam? Or making a dental dam from a flavored condom? They are usually gross, but it's better than nothing, right?

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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

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