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I'm Not Comfortable With Oral Sex


Published January 21, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear Athena,

My boyfriend says he loves oral sex and wants to go down on me, but I'm not comfortable. Something about it freaks me out. I have no problem performing oral on him, but I won't really let him do it to me. I'm self-conscious about it. I feel weird and worry that it might smell funny or something. How do I get over this?

Self-Conscious About Cunnilingus

Dear Self-Conscious,

Stop beating yourself up about this so we can get to the business of getting over it. Because once you feel more comfortable, you are in for a world of amazingness.

Maybe you've had a bad experience with oral sex in the past; perhaps a clumsy or inexperienced former lover turned you off. Maybe your stress about smell is getting in the way, or you feel vulnerable just lying there while someone pleasures you. Or maybe you've never tried it, and the unknown is scary. All those feelings are perfectly normal and can be overcome.

You mentioned worrying about smell. Your vagina might give off a funky odor if you have a yeast infection, which can be easily treated. But once you've eliminated that possibility and you're maintaining healthy hygiene by cleaning yourself regularly, then you likely don't smell "bad." In fact, the scent of your vagina is filled with pheromones that attract your partner to you, and to the idea of sex.

Whatever you do, avoid succumbing to feminine hygiene products, which can irritate the skin and cause a rash and plenty of discomfort. And if you wash too much, you can disturb the natural pH balance that you need to stay healthy and infection free.

You might invite your boyfriend into the shower with you to try out your first oral experience; you'll feel less self-conscious about smells after bathing together. And it is super-sexy to lather each other up and get down.

Although we've come a long way on the path of sexual liberation, certain stigmas are hard to shake. For example, thinking that if an act is not lovemaking in the strictest sense, it must be "dirty." Cunnilingus might make you feel that it's not the reciprocal experience lovemaking "should be." Forget that. Now.

Oral sex is something that two people engage in together. You are communicating sexually with one another in an intimate and pleasurable way. Just because he's doing it to you does not mean you don't deserve it, or that you're not doing anything in return. He derives pleasure from giving pleasure. If he says he likes it, trust him and try it out.

What if you took turns? Or you started with short intervals before moving on to intercourse? He could begin just by kissing your body slowly and sensually, and using his hands. Feel free to guide him through it, with your words or your hands. Show him what feels good. He'll appreciate the communication and direction.

Finally, when's the last time you looked at your vagina? Grab a hand mirror and check it out. This is part of your body, not a far-away foreign land. Get to know it, look at it and touch it. And please note: There is no "normal"-size labia or vulva. Healthy vaginas come in a variety of shapes, sizes and hues, so go ahead and feel proud of what you've got.

And I promise you, once you open the oral door to that eager boyfriend, you'll be very happy you did.