Dear MKE SEX,
I think my vagina smells better when it is regularly fucked. And it doesn’t matter if we use condoms or not, or even if it’s PIV [ed. note: penis-in-vagina] sex—it can be hands/mouth etc. But! Jilling off doesn’t do the trick. If I am fucked on a regular basis my pussy smells great. When it has been too long, or not frequently enough, that’s when my balance goes wonky.
What say you?
Need It On the Reg
Dear On the Reg,
Folks like you are an inspiration to me as a sex educator. You know your body, you know what you want, and you’re willing to talk out loud about it. Also, you are living proof that sex doesn’t ruin a vagina. Sex doesn’t somehow make a person dirty. Your very lived experience shows that sex can, in fact, create a really healthy vaginal environment.
The vagina has its own ecosystem, now more commonly referred to as the vaginal microbiome. It is comprised of trillions of microorganisms (mostly lactobacillus and other bacteria, with some fungi and viruses too) existing in a healthy balance. Just how delicate that balance is depends on a lot of different factors like your genetic make-up, your overall health, your diet and hydration, your typical level of sexual activity, where you are in your reproductive life cycle, and other things we haven’t figured out yet.
Like with all living ecosystems, there are always new organisms growing and old ones dying off. Some of those flora are there to protect the body from invaders. During sexual activity with a partner, all kinds of new and foreign bacteria are introduced to the vagina. The protective portions of the microbiome spring into action, resulting in a spectacular battle royale that (ideally) leaves just about the right number of microbiota alive, and achieving a wonderful and aromatic balance inside your vagina.
Since I don’t know exactly what your masturbatory habits are, I can only make a guess at why jilling off doesn’t make you smell the same as sex. Oral, manual, or PIV sex with a partner gets you all sorts of new microbiota and promotes that balance we talked about before. But during masturbation, you’re probably using your own hands or sex toys that are familiar to your body, which means very few if any new bacteria in your vagina. This isn’t a bad thing (at all!). It just means that you’ll smell like your own typical self, instead of the extra special scent you like so much.
This is also why healthcare providers and sex educators frequently tell folks not to douche on a regular basis. When you introduce cleansers, herbs, or antiseptics to an otherwise healthy and balanced vagina, you can kill off a whole slew of the helpful bacteria.
Of course, like everything else with human beings, this isn’t true for all people. Some folks have a pretty delicate ecosystem or especially sensitive vagina. For those people, new partners, new toys, new body washes, or even new clothes can cause various ailments or irritations including soreness, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and others. Often this self corrects over time, but some may need to change up their routine to completely resolve these issues.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at email@example.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.