You’re naked, he’s naked, and you’re both aroused. The smells, sweat, and even the funny sounds can suddenly seem erotically charged—to you, that is. In an Archives of Sexual Behavior study out this year, women who were aroused felt significantly less grossed out by things they normally might be freaked out by. But dudes’ level of disgust stayed exactly the same, even in the heat of the moment.
The good news: Men tend to have pretty low levels of “icky” feelings about sex to start with, the scientists say. But what actually grosses a guy out in bed? Well, all men are different of course, but science says that these things could give literal meaning to “doing the dirty.”
In an Evolution and Human Behavior study, men said a stinky-smelling body influences their sexual attraction more than the sound of a woman’s voice, the feel of her skin, or her life ambitions. What’s the big deal about a little B.O.? Body odor can convey that you aren’t taking care of yourself (even if you are), says DeAnna Lorraine, a dating and relationships coach in Los Angeles. But let’s be real: You don’t love his stink post-gym session either, right? The good news is sweating together can turn you both on. But instead of climbing into bed after a workout, try the shower together.
If you just downed a plate of garlic bread with your guy, he’ll probably be forgiving if you’re not exactly minty fresh. (Although, in a recent Appetite study, both sexes said garlic is a no-no when you’re on a date.) The problem comes when bad breath is chronic—in that case, it may actually act as a barrier to intimacy. When you’re suffering from a serious case of halitosis, this definitely puts a wrench into your lovemaking, says Lorraine.
Acting skittish about stripping down, pushing him away when he goes down on you, or being totally silent in the sack are all signs of sexual insecurity—and big-time buzzkills for your guy too, says Lorraine. Why is bedroom bravado so critical? “Confidence indicates that you know yourself well and know what you like,” explains Justin Sitron, Ph.D., a professor of human sexuality at Widener University. “Letting him take charge can be fun, but you need to show him that you’re equally into it,” adds Lorraine. So don’t be shy!
Sixty percent of women aren’t comfortable having sex during their period, a recent survey by Softcup, a feminine protection company, reveals. If you happen to be in the minority of women who are totally cool with it, make sure your guy is on board too. “More mature men are understanding,” says Lorraine. But you should still give him a head’s up. Your line: “Just to let you know, it’s that time of the month. We can hold off, or we can go for it.”
Dirty talk is practically the norm: 80 percent of people admit to incorporating aural arousal into sex, according a survey by sex toy company Adam & Eve. Twelve percent even said dirty talk is always part of sex. But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean your partner is prepared to push the envelope. Going overboard without warning can be a turn-off. Talk about what works for both of you in bed before you step things up.
Your guy likely wants to go down on you. It’s only when things seem a little funky that a gross factor can set in. In fact, a fishy smell is likely the most offensive to a man, since that part of your body is critical to the act. Men may be wired to be repulsed too, since a smelly vagina can signal an infection.
Nothing breaks the post-coital glow faster than the sound of urine tinkling in the toilet (for either sexes, that is!). But men, especially, can be weird about the fact that the vaginal area serves several purposes, says Lorraine. As Sitron explains, during sex, we separate ourselves from reality—and when you’re still getting to know each other, you rely heavily on that fantasyland for intimacy. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hit the bathroom after sex—just give yourself some privacy.
For some guys, this is a no biggie. But for others, it’s bad. “Some people see vaginal fluids and cum as separate kinds of bodily fluids that are sensual or sexy,” says Sitron. But a lot of people find down-there fluids to be really disgusting. It’s worth a convo before swooping in for the kiss.