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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea,

I'm a muff-diving dyke, sort of. The first few times with my new girlfriend, I enjoyed her taste. However, most recently she tasted much different — and, frankly, worse. I almost blurted out that she might have a yeast infection (luckily I caught myself before completely ruining the mood). Curious, the other day I tasted myself, and I had a similar terribly pungent, unappealing taste. I know my body well enough to know I don't have a yeast infection! So now I'm wondering, is it related to menstrual cycles? Previous physical activity? Sharing of bacteria and yeast?

Love,

Wannabe Diver

Dear Muffy:

Could be any of those, with yeast less likely since it doesn't like sour things itself. Of course, I could be misinterpreting "terribly pungent" to mean terribly sour, or maybe you meant ... OK, stop me there. See, this is why even proper medical personnel are discouraged from attempting to diagnose things in absentia — you don't want them to do it wrong, and frankly, you don't want me doing it at all.

The pH of the vagina does change over the course of the menstrual cycle, getting higher (more neutral) at ovulation, when the vagina welcomes sperm whether or not its owner thinks that's a good idea (and whether or not there are any sperm present or expected, like, ever), and more acidic at either cycle end, when any sperm that wandered by would be doomed anyway, so we might as get it over with. The thing about menstrual cycles, though, is that they're cyclic, so whatever she tastes like on, say, day twenty, she'd have tasted that way last month too. I'm not diagnosing, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear you had a mild, mutual bacterial infection, but you'll never know unless you get it checked out. You could sneak off discreetly and get fixed up, of course, but that's not going to help her any, so, much as you might like to gloss this over in the interest of romance and mood maintenance, I'm afraid I can't let you off that easily. You're going to have to do the "Hey honey, I couldn't help but notice ..." thing, but hey, so what? It's all in a day's relationship work, is it not? And you are in one of those, are you not?

I ask because I couldn't help noticing something myself, and unlike you I am not loathe to bring up uncomfortable truths, no matter how conversation-stopping. So hey, dudette, how come you could recognize your girlfriend in a blind taste test, while she wouldn't know you from, you should pardon the expression, Adam? Is this lack of reciprocity part of some larger plan, or is she being kind of a piglet about this? And if it's the latter, well, don't you have more to talk about than who tastes nasty all of a sudden?

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea:

My gyno prescribed estrogen cream (Estrace) to combat chronic yeast infections apparently brought on by vaginal dryness he says may be associated with my long-term use of the pill. He said it wouldn't have any effect on my male sex partner, but then he also said an IUD was more effective than tubal ligation, so I don't know whether to believe him. The Rx insert says nothing; the Mayo clinic suggests that estrogen cream could have an effect on my partner, and also that it is harmful to condoms (which we use in addition to the BCPs because I really don't want kids). Plus, you know, there was that House episode a few weeks ago where a guy 's hormone cream seeped through his skin and made his kids sick.

Love,

Bad Medicine

Dear Med:

Wow, really, there was nothing in the insert? Because while I couldn't turn up anything superspecific, there is no question that the Estrace people themselves say to "avoid exposing your male sexual partner ... by not having sexual intercourse right after using these medicines.

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