Ask Emily: How Do I Better Enjoy Oral Sex?

Dear Emily,

I want to love oral, but I just…don’t. Whether it’s giving OR receiving, the whole thing just isn’t sexy to me. The problem is, my partners, love it! It’s the favorite on their sexual menu, and I want to be a team player. There are other sexual acts that I did not enjoy before but eventually came to love them, with enough practice and experience. So do you have any tips for me?

— Oral In Training 

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Dear Oral In Training,

I love what a generous partner you are! Oral is the highlight sex act for a lot of people (including me!), but it’s OK if it’s not yours…yet. It sounds like you’re definitely interested in making oral more fun, you just haven’t had a ton of affirming experiences with it. Let’s see if we can change that.

Since it’s the giving and the receiving parts you’re having trouble with, I’m going to provide pointers for both. Here are my 6 top tips for making oral more pleasurable, so that you can add it to your sexual menu:

1. Train your pelvic floor

Let’s talk about receiving oral because if that’s uncomfortable for you, I’ve got a technique you can use while it’s happening: our old friend, Kegels.

When you have an orgasm, the muscles that contract are the same ones you use for Kegels: the pee-stopping muscles. And if being on the receiving end of oral is just too much for your brain to handle, how about doing Kegels at the moment? Not only are you setting yourself up for a more intense orgasm, but you’re also giving your mind something to focus on—and I’m sensing that’s what you really need, here. A way to calm your thoughts, and focus on the sensations. (PS: kegels are for every body! We’ve all got a pelvic floor, so lest you think Kegels are exclusively for vulva owners… think again.) 

2. Try the toothbrush trick

I recently had a caller on my show, who experienced a gag reflex every time she tried giving her husband a blow job. This happens! It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re turned off by the act itself, but that our body (and more specifically, our nervous system) have developed an involuntary response to oral insertion. Here’s my slick trick for that:

Each night after you’ve brushed your teeth, take a moment to simply place your toothbrush on your tongue, and hold it down—beginning with five seconds. Start moving it back on your tongue a tiny bit at a time, and holding it down a little longer, on every consecutive night. We’re training your mouth and throat muscles to tolerate this sensation, so it’s OK if it’s sensitive at first. Given time, it will adjust! These muscles just need to get used to the presence of a “foreign object” as it were, knowing that you’re not going to choke on it.

3. Flavored lube

Also in the giving department, we’ve got taste. Listen: whether you’re pleasuring a penis or a vulva, you might simply be icked-out by the natural flavor…and this is really common, especially if you’re new to oral sex. But here again, I’ve got a little hack: flavored lube to the rescue!

One of my fave lube brands, System Jo, makes a bounty of flavored options—and they don’t taste like synthetic chemicals, either. Try experimenting with a yummy variety, like pineapple or creme brulee, and see if that helps your brain make some new, more enticing associations. 

4. Try breathwork

Along those same lines, about working with your brain to enhance the experience of oral, you can also utilize breathwork. Why? Well, if you’ve got negative associations with oral (a bad first experience, for example), breathwork can help your nervous system from seizing up, by massaging your vagus nerve.

When we take deep, long breaths, we nourish a really awesome part of our body: the vagus nerve, which dictates our parasympathetic nervous system. Its counterpart, the sympathetic nervous system, is responsible for fight or flight—and guess what exacerbates it? Short, shallow breaths.

Try this: before sexual activity of any kind happens, take belly breaths: inhaling long, through the nose, going so deep your belly rises. Exhale through the mouth, until all of the air in your lungs is emptied out. Repeat for a total of five times, and say hello to your blissed-out, calm nervous system. 

5. Embrace simultaneous stimulation

Aka, have them pleasure other parts of you while oral sex is happening. Are you a nipple person? Have them squeeze one while they’re going down on you. How about thighs? They’ve got at least one hand free! And they can use it for caresses. What about booty play? Could they reach around, and stimulate you while oral is happening? 

What we’re doing here is diversifying your input signals, so that all the pressure isn’t solely on oral. With a little bit of variety added to the mix, you might find that you get a lot more aroused, after an alley-oop from your nipples/thighs/butt/etc. 

Stay communicative

Finally, don’t be afraid to talk to your partner, whether you’re giving or receiving. If it’s not feeling good…say so! Some folks have an overgrowth of nerve endings in their genitals, and if that’s you, you might not solve this problem right away. (I recommend a pelvic floor physical therapist if that’s you.) 

But if it could feel good, with a few technique adjustments—more pressure, less pressure, different tongue action, different angles, etc.—you’re allowed to speak up. Oral is incredibly intimate: in some cases, more intimate than penetration. So when you stay connected during the act—whether you’re giving instruction or asking for feedback—it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. On the contrary: it means you’re deepening your intimacy. 

I hope these tips help! Now snap your laptop/phone/tablet shut, open your mind (and possibly your legs), and have fun exploring these oral hacks. Let me know how it goes!