Hygiene for Good Sex

executive summary
Dr. Marty Klein provides some helpful tips for how to get your partner to practice some personal hygiene before sex without sounding like a nag.

hot facts
Another question answered by the sexperts at Libida.com.

Grooming for Sex

Ask the Sexpert

Sex with Bad Breath

Dear Dr. Klein,

I love my boyfriend, but he doesn't always brush his teeth or clean up before bedtime, and then he wants to be passionate. It's starting to affect my enjoyment of sex. How can I indirectly get him to realize I'd prefer his kisses sweet? I'd hate for him to think I'm a nag.


Dear Reader,

This is not the time to communicate indirectly. You have some important information to convey, and it's essential that you do so effectively. Assume that your boyfriend feels the same. He'd probably say something like, "it's been bothering you all this time, and you haven't told me? I wish I knew this sooner!"

So what are you going to say? How are you going to say it? And how will you handle the response? These are the kinds of questions that make people hesitant to talk about this stuff in the first place.

It's actually good news that you're affected by your boyfriend's hygiene. Just as our bodies are wired to respond to the sight of flowers, the taste of food, and the sound of crying, we're wired to respond to the way our mate looks, tastes, and smells. People who don't respond in this way are generally shut down emotionally or psychologically. It's difficult for them to enjoy sex, or connect with a partner, or both. Be glad you're not one of those damaged people.

When we feel embarrassed or nervous about talking to a partner, letting him know this is always an option: "Peter, I want to speak with you about something important, but this is hard for me. This isn't easy, so please be friendly." Having set the stage in this way, lead with your intention: "I want our sex to be great, I want to enjoy it more, that's why I'm telling you this."

Then make like Michael Jordan and Just Do It. Look your man in the eye and say, "I want to be as enthusiastic about sex as possible, and I feel most excited when you smell nice. If you want to drive me wild, brush your teeth and use a clean, damp washcloth on any part of you that you want near my mouth."

You can also offer to brush, wash, or shower with him before bedtime. Ask if there's any way he'd like you to prepare your body for his delight as well.

By the way, your concern about being a nag troubles me. Are you always asking for things you don't get? Is he always breaking promises? Does he criticize you frequently? These questions refer to the relationship, not hygiene. On the other hand, do many people in your life accuse you of nagging? Do you dread compromise? Are you tired of the sound of your own voice? If so, the issue may be more about your emotional or relationship style. You may want to check this with a close friend or a professional counselor.

~ Dr. Marty Klein