If you’re aching for more oral sex from your partner but also mildly petrified at the thought of, you know, asking for it, one of the best things you can do is get advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Hi, I’m someone who knows what I’m talking about. As a professional sex coach and educator, I’m disheartened by the number of people I hear from—typically those with vaginas who identify as women—who don’t have as much oral sex as they want, don’t know how to ask for it, don’t even feel they have a right to want it, or some combination of all three.
I get how freaky it can be for some people to bring this up with a partner. Asking to be sexually fulfilled in a specific way can feel incredibly vulnerable. But the very vulnerability that comes with asking for what you want from your partner can make sex so much more satisfying for both of you. To that end, here are my four best tips for asking for more oral sex.
1. Think about not just what you want but why you want it.
Before having this conversation, determine what you’re craving physically and emotionally from oral sex so you can better convey that information to your partner. (Or, if you haven’t had much oral sex, what you think you might love about it.) This goes back to my good-sex ground rule of telling your partner how you want to feel in bed. Important note: It's totally fine for your "why" to be as simple as: "Because it feels good, and I want to feel good!" The key is just being able to articulate—both to yourself and your partner—exactly what you're craving more of in your sex life.
Your partner is not a mind reader. They won’t necessarily know that licking counterclockwise circles on your clitoris gives you full-body chills or that a combination of G-spot and clitoral stimulation makes you feel possessed (in a good way). They won’t magically realize that you’d be so much more into penetration if they warmed you up with some intense oral first. They won’t immediately know if one of the times you feel most loved, accepted, and desired is when they’re going down on you—unless you tell them. And you might not fully realize all of that unless you really think about how to put your love of oral into words.
2. Try to move past any shame you might have about asking for oral sex.
As you may have experienced, people with vaginas generally receive the message to be ashamed of their bodies and sexualities. Instead they are told the goal during sex is to focus on the other person’s needs, especially if that other person has a penis and identifies as a man.
If you’re mortified about your body or your desire for oral sex, it’s basically impossible to relax, allow the focus to be on your pleasure, and ask for even more pleasure on top of that.
I know that eradicating shame from your sex life is so much easier said than done. But I also know that this hard work is worth it.
Remind yourself that, as a human being, it’s completely natural to want sex. Good sex, at that. This doesn’t make you bad or dirty. And needing someone’s face right up in your vagina? Also great and normal. (It’s completely fine if that’s not your thing. The problem is when that aversion is rooted in shame.)
If you have shame specifically about how your vagina looks or smells, I’m happy to report that it’s unwarranted. One of the most absurd myths I regularly hear is that all vaginas smell like fish. Just…no. The way your vagina smells can absolutely fluctuate for normal reasons like having your period. But a persistently strong and unpleasant odor indicates something like a bacterial infection, which means you should see an ob/gyn. Otherwise, your vagina probably smells like…a vagina. None of your other body parts naturally smell like roses, so don’t hold your vagina up to unrealistic standards.
People also often worry their labia are “too long,” which isn’t a thing unless your labia are getting painfully caught in your underwear, cause discomfort when you walk, or anything of that nature. Even then, the problem is functional, not about how your labia look.
The list of reasons why you might feel sexual or physical shame is unfortunately extensive. Try to work on getting comfortable in your body (again, I know, easier said than done). If you’re really struggling to do this, consider seeing a professional like a sex therapist. And if you have a physical condition that’s causing you shame, such as vulvodynia (chronic discomfort around your vagina), seeing an ob/gyn might be helpful as well.
3. Think of this as a chance to have an actual discussion about oral sex—not just to make a request.
Exactly when and how it makes the most sense to do this depends on your relationship. Try to come from a place of curiosity about how your partner really feels about oral sex while remembering that you’re on the same team. In a healthy sexual relationship, the shared goal should be to make sure everyone is satisfied.
With that in mind, there are a bunch of ways to dive into this conversation. You can start boldly by saying, “You know what? I really miss oral sex.” You can start from a more vulnerable place by asking if there’s a reason oral sex has petered off lately. Hell, you can hold up half an orange and be like, “See how I’m eating this? Like, really diving in there? Any chance you wanna do the same to me tonight?” However you start, be sure to explain what you’ve realized about why oral sex is important to you.
Then ask your partner what they think. The goal is to start a dialogue, not just to get your request off your chest. Maybe they didn’t realize how much you loved oral and are happy to do it more often, in which case, awesome. But there’s also a chance they have a different reason for holding back. If so, the way they explain this can tell you a lot about who they are as a partner (or confirm what you already suspected). Let’s take the issue of pubic hair as an example.
It’s one thing if your partner says something like, “I really love going down on you, but—I’m a little embarrassed to say this—it doesn’t feel great to have a lot of hair in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I love your body! It’s just that specific sensation, you know?” It’s another thing entirely if they respond with something like, “Maybe I would go down on you more if your huge bush didn’t always get in the way.”
The distinction here is between respectfully and kindly explaining what might be holding them back from oral sex versus criticizing you and making you feel bad for even asking. The former you can work with. The latter is a red flag. Ultimately, a good partner will want to turn you on, make you feel good, and help you feel comfortable having these conversations.
4. Find a middle ground if necessary.
What if your partner isn’t hugely into going down on you because it’s just not their thing? Let me be perfectly clear: It’s okay for anyone not to like giving or receiving oral sex. But it’s also okay if oral is pretty nonnegotiable for you. Sexual compatibility is multifaceted, and it includes oral sex preferences.
This is where communication comes in yet again. The truth is that lots of people don’t looove the inherent act of performing oral sex but are still game to do it because they are psyched about making their partner feel good. Talking things through might help you and your partner realize this kind of dynamic totally works for both of you.
In less ideal situations, having this conversation might make you realize there’s a bigger problem at hand, like if your partner expects to receive oral sex but refuses to even consider giving it. If they aren’t open to finding a happy medium that satisfies both of you, my professional advice would be to at the very least consider dumping them.
I know, I know: Every relationship is different. But life is too short to spend time sexually indulging people who act as if doing the same for you is beneath them. You and your vagina deserve better.
- How Owning My Sexuality Transformed My Career
- We Asked 15 People With Vaginas How to Make Oral Sex Even Better
- I Suddenly Stopped Being Kinky and I’m Not Sure Why
Originally Appeared on Self