Before you’re intimate with someone new for the first time, there might be things that you want to think about doing or not doing. And though there might be fewer things you think about before being intimate with a long-time partner (or, of course, when something happens spontaneously), there are still some things doctors wish you’d stop doing before intimacy for a whole number of reasons. Let’s face it, knowing what you may not want to do before having sex, according to doctors, might not ultimately change your routine or behaviors all that much, but it’s still a good idea to be aware of the implications of your actions, particularly since some of them might be things you may not expect.
Although you might not spend much time thinking about how every little thing you do in the hours leading up to cozying up to your partner might have an effect on the moment itself, some of these things are more important than you may have thought. Some of the things that doctors wish you’d stop doing prior to having sex with your partner are things that could potentially cause health or safety issues, a lower level of comfort for you or for them, or just take some of the romance out of things. Regardless of the reason, some things are better done at other times — not soon before you’re hoping to get intimate.
1. DRINKING OR DOING DRUGS
A glass of wine with your dinner might not be that big of a deal, but overdoing it is something that your doctor definitely wants you to avoid before sex. “Alcohol and drugs will potentially impair your judgement and you might engage in unsafe sex practices,” Dr. Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN and the founder and director of the Integrative Medical Practice of Irvine, tells Romper by email. “Also, your sexual experience may be less pleasant and you will not be ‘in the moment.’”
2. TAKING A LAXATIVE
If you’re struggling with digestive woes, whether or not you might be having sex later probably isn’t the very first thing on your mind, but taking a laxative might ruin the moment.
“Your nervous system will be very revved up and could get your GI tract moving things along,” Gersh says. “Add on a laxative, and you might need to be rushing to the bathroom at an inconvenient moment.” If you find yourself in a position where you think a laxative is necessary, working with your doctor to boost the health of your gut could help, Gersh adds.
Many doctors aren’t too keen on douching, but it’s something that you shouldn’t do before being intimate with someone. “Douching for routine vaginal cleanliness is not only not needed, it’s truly harmful,” Gersh says. “It can significantly alter the vaginal microbial environment, called the microbiome. It can increase your risk of acquiring a vaginal infection, and even of getting a sexually transmitted infection! Better is to just wash around the vulva and the vaginal lips with warm water and pat dry, if you feel any cleanup first is desired.”
4. DRINKING ANYTHING CARBONATED
Same goes for eating cruciferous vegetables — it’s better off saved for another time. These sorts of foods and beverages can cause gas, which isn’t exactly convenient when you’re hoping to be intimate. “Better to eat lightly and stay away from the foods which tend to create more gas,” Gersh says. “Who wants a lover with a big, distended tummy? It’s just not cute and gas can take you out of the romantic moment.” Gas isn’t exactly comfortable for the person experiencing it either. Eating after sex instead of before can also help address this issue.
5. WAXING OR SHAVING DOWN THERE
You might think that waxing or shaving your pubic hair prior to getting intimate is a good idea, but you have to be thoughtful about the timing of these kinds of things. “Immediately after hair removal there can be some skin irritation,” Gersh explains. “That could [make] those sensitive tissues more prone to feeling irritated, burning, or itchy when touched or stroked. Better is to remove unwanted hair at least a few hours earlier.”
6. EATING GARLIC
Eating garlic isn’t something that’ll hurt you, but Gersh says it can definitely kill the mood, so avoiding it before being intimate may be best. “If you did have some and want to get rid of the small, swoosh olive oil or coconut oil in your mouth, spit it out, rinse and brush your teeth, and then chew anise seeds,” Gersh adds.
7. USING SCENTED HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Sometimes people are a bit nervous about their natural scent, but using scented products designed to cover up your natural smell isn’t the best idea. In an interview with Bustle, Dr. Debra Wickman, MD, FACOG, said that scented products can increase your risk of infection, irritate your skin, and cover up pheromones. The bath bomb, scented soap, or other product just might not be worth it.
Putting a damper on your intimate moment likely isn’t what you were hoping for or intending when you did some of these things, but knowing that they could have that effect might make you think twice before doing them before sex the next time.