Self-conscious about your vulva during oral sex? Nervous or afraid of your partner going down? Here’s how to change that. Shed your shame.
The most comfortable I’ve felt receiving oral sex was when I was 17-years-old at fat camp. For an entire summer this kid munched my box as if he hadn’t eaten in days, and I never even laid a finger on his penis. I felt completely at ease while he licked away at my clit until curfew was called. The problem is, at the time, I didn’t really enjoy it. As much as he tried, and he tried really hard, I never climaxed.
But oh, to be 17 again, bare-naked on that tennis court in the Poconos, knowing what I know now about my body. Seven years later, I discovered that I can only orgasm through oral sex. The problem is, as an adult, I’m incredibly self-conscious about my vulva.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the fear of my vulva tasting like rancid fish came about, but I know I’m not alone. I mean, this one female-founded company developed a whole ass product for women based on the fear that our genitals are repulsive. On their website, the brand (Lorals) markets their single-use panties that block smells and fluids as a way to close the orgasm gap, because oral sex is allegedly three times more likely to lead to an orgasm. Honestly, the product is genius, but I’m pissed that there’s a market for it.
Fear of a smelly cooch isn’t the only reason why some people feel uncomfortable receiving oral sex. Sex educator Kait Scalsi told me that sometimes it has to do with perceiving oral sex as more intimate than other sex acts. “It’s vulnerable to have your bits in someone else’s face,” she said.
I’ve had a lot of sex. Like, tons of sex. And I’ve had an orgasm almost every day since I was 13-years-old. But when it comes to sex with partners, my orgasm count dwindles to two. Two! I so wish I belonged to the 18 percent of women who can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, but, alas, clitoral stimulation is the only thing that gets me going. I have no problem giving blowjobs, but when it comes to my pleasure, I feel like asking my partner to lick my genitals is subjecting them to torture.
Sex educator Gigi Engle gave me some insight as to why so many heterosexual cis women and I default to pleasing our male partners. “Women have historically not been taught to enjoy sexuality or want to pursue their own pleasure,” she explained. “Asking for something entirely for ourselves is ‘too much’ or thinking you deserve more than you’re entitled to.” UGH, totally.
Fed up with contributing to the orgasm gap, I asked these badass sexperts to advise me on how I can shake the feeling that my body is broken and own my right to an orgasm.
1. Communication is key.
First and foremost, communicating with your partner about your discomfort is incredibly important. If you don’t tell them how you’re feeling, how the heck are they supposed to know something’s wrong?
“Any body part you feel uncomfortable with presents an opportunity to grow in your acceptance, compassion, and maybe even love of it,” says Scalisi.
Expressing your needs and desires to your partner can help you feel more comfortable as they ravage your vulva. Tell them if you’d like to hear compliments about the look and smell of your genitals and how you’d like them to refer to your bits. This type of reassurance can help squash any anxiety you might feel.
2. Get up close and personal.
Have you ever grabbed a mirror and inspected your vagina a la Jessi in Big Mouth? If you haven’t, Scalisi suggests looking at your body parts and commenting on what you like or love about them. “Negative thoughts will likely come up — it’s habit for many of us — but simply drop them and refocus on your goal.”
3. Google is your friend.
After you inspect your genitals, check out someone else’s! The more vulvas you expose yourself to, the more confident you’ll feel about your own. The “perfect” vulva doesn’t exist, because while there are apparently nine major variations of vulvas, everyone’s is different.
4. DON’T DOUCHE!
I dated my first boyfriend for about a year and a half, and for the majority of our relationship he didn’t go down on me. It made me feel like I tasted disgusting, and I didn’t want to force him to put his face near something he thought was gross. Sometimes I’d hop in the shower to lather my vulva with soap to entice him, but that rarely worked.
The truth is, my genitals don’t smell bad; they smell like a vagina. “If you smell fishy, or otherwise really pungent, you likely have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor,” Engle says. “Your vulva is beautiful and your pleasure is important.”
“Don’t use harsh soaps or douches,” Scalisi says, “because the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven.” If you’re still uncomfortable, use a condom as a barrier or snag one of those Lorals I mentioned earlier.
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