First things first: Contrary to what popular culture might have you believe, not everyone loves getting head. "Some of us aren't that comfortable with having someone between our legs for an extended period of time for a myriad of emotional or physical reasons," sex educator and adult performer Kelly Shibari tells Cosmopolitan.com—and that's more than all right. But if you're into cunnilingus and want to enjoy it more than you already do, there are common problems you may experience as well as ways to address them—read on for insight from the experts.
1. You're actually not wet enough.
You might think you don't need any extra lubrication, especially if you're already wet (or there's a lot of saliva in action), but "it can still be beneficial to add a bit of lube, especially if you plan on fingering the vulva during oral sex," says Zoë Ligon, sex educator and founder of sex toy boutique Spectrum. "If you're worried about how the lube might negatively affect the taste, try a tasteless and odorless lube like Sliquid H2O, or even a sugar-free flavored lube like Sliquid Swirl." You could find that a little more wetness increases your pleasure immensely.
2. You're worried about how you taste.
Firstly, remember that if your vagina is healthy—that is, you don't have any sort of bacterial infection, like bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis—however it smells and tastes is totally fine, and anyone who shames you for it probably doesn't deserve to have their head down there. "It's important to remember that vulvas can taste all types of ways," Ligon says. "The taste of a vulva can change based on something as simple as where a person is in their cycle, and the balance of naturally occurring bacteria in the vaginal canal can change because of many different factors." That said, again, you can feel free to experiment with flavored lubes, such as the (admittedly delicious) lubes from Wicked Sensual Care (they're flavored with stevia, meaning no infection risk for you—because nothing ruins a good time like some uninvited yeast).
3. The stimulation isn't varied enough.
Don't shy away from introducing a toy into the action, or from having your partner finger you at the same time. Inserting fingers into the vagina on top of tongue stimulation on your clit and labia could be the double whammy that you need to get the most out of oral. "If you tire of using your fingers during oral sex, try getting a wand-style dildo like the Comet Wand or Fun Wand to use in tandem with your mouth," Ligon says. These toys can help your partner stimulate the sensitive front wall of your vagina at the same time as their tongue is on your clit, which is pretty much divine.
4. You're not talking enough before or after the act.
Every vagina is different, and your partner, for better or worse, is likely not a mind reader. "There's no way to truly know whether your partner will prefer light, fluttering licks, or intense pressure and sucking unless you ask them," Ligon says. Yes, you can talk about what gets you off beforehand, but often the most effective approach is to give feedback during the act itself so that you can ask for more or less pressure, focus on a different area, and so on—you often won't know what feels great until you're, well, feeling it.
5. You feel self-conscious when all of the focus is on you.
If there's something about all of the focus being on you that makes you uncomfortable, especially if you feel self-conscious that you might not orgasm at the end of your partner's hard work—you shouldn't, but let me just say I can emphasize with the feeling—then 69ing might be for you: You'll get all of the benefit of your partner's lips and tongue getting to work at the same time as you're returning the favor. Another trick for getting out of the "Am I coming yet? Am I coming yet?" mental loop that can distract you while you're getting head: Set the timer for five, 10, or 15 minutes, and then have your partner give you head for that amount of time. That time is your time, and the end goal isn't (implicitly or explicitly) orgasm—it's just to enjoy a predetermined amount of oral from someone who wants to give it to you.
6. You're jumping into the act too quickly.
Yes, oral can be foreplay, but it can help to have a pre-pre-party first and warm up with making out, fingering, and whatever else strikes your fancy so that you're in the right headspace to enjoy head. "Take your time before moving into receiving oral sex," sex educator Sarah Sloane tells Cosmopolitan.com. "An aroused body experiences pleasure differently than one that's not turned on, so linger on the kissing and touching until everything is engaged before you open up to them." Having someone's head between your thighs can feel super intimate and vulnerable, so it's good to get yourself and your body comfortable with that person before they dive in.
7. You haven't found the right position for mind-blowing head.
For easier access for your partner, it can help to tilt your pelvis upward by placing a pillow under your lower back. As Sloane points out, "it keeps your back relaxed and lets you enjoy every second of lovemaking without getting a spasm at the wrong moment." Instead of lying on your back, you can also try straddling your partner's face. "I know it sounds intense," sex educator Vanessa Marin says, "but it's a position that gives you a great amount of control. You can inch your body further away from your partner if they start getting too intense, or can press down a bit if you want more contact. It also frees your partner up to use both hands on you." Bonus: It puts less strain on your partner's neck, meaning that they can comfortably go for even longer.
8. You're not taking enough control.
As long as you're talking it out with your partner beforehand, there's no reason that you have to lie back passively and simply receive. Thrust your hips, move against their mouth, even hold their head. "Move your body in a way that feels good to you, so they can pick up on your rhythm and work with you," Sloane says.
9. Your partner doesn't know how you touch yourself.
A great way to give your partner guidance is by showing, not telling—that is, by masturbating in front of them. It will help them pick up on what kinds of pressure, speed, and rhythms get you going. "Let them get close and see exactly how you're touching yourself, so they can learn more about the places and ways you like to be touched," Sloane says. "It's an easy translation from fingers to tongues, once they know your language."
10. You feel awkward about giving your partner feedback.
It can be tough to voice your desires to a partner when it feels like you're criticizing them and when it's hard to know exactly what those desires are. "Since oral isn't something that you can do to yourself, it's hard to know how to instruct a partner," Marin points out. "My general advice is to think of it as giving feedback, not directions. Directions imply that you're supposed to know exactly what to tell your partner to do. If you think you have to give perfect, step-by-step directions, of course you're going to feel self-conscious and perfectionistic." Instead of feeling like you have to give your partner a flawless tongue-driven road map to your orgasm, focus on letting them know how to adjust what they're already doing by using phrases like "harder," "slower," "more gentle," "a little higher up." Not all of your feedback has to be verbal either—for example, before you get started, you could tell your partner that the louder you moan, the more you like what they're doing, Sloan suggests. And, of course, all of the feedback in the world won't make up for a partner who isn't receptive to it. When your pleasure is a priority for both you and your partner, oral is exponentially more likely to lead to an O.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.