Vaginas are like snowflakes: complex miracles of nature, usually pretty wet, sometimes a little threatening, and always different from the next--which means that there's no one surefire way to make one happy without asking the human who is attached to it what they want. Though sex is often a glorious and beautiful thing, the stigmas that surround it can make it truly challenging if not impossible for partners to communicate well before, during, and after the deed. For those of us who are women (and for those of us who may not identify within a binary, but who have vaginas), sexual stigma is particularly acute--not to be confused with cute, because it definitely is not--making us feel ashamed of desires that we experience and desires upon which we choose to act. As a result of this shame, silence about preferences and fantasies, or dislikes and discomforts often finds its way into the bedroom (or the shower, or the car, or wherever y’all are gettin’ it on), keeping women from expressing themselves fully and declaring what it is they want and don’t want, which can be especially true during acts of extreme intimacy, such as oral sex. This may come as a surprise for those of us in the room who live under rocks, but not all women are the same--and this means that not all women want to receive oral sex the same way. (#NotAllWomen!) Some women prefer things rougher, some women prefer things ever so delicate; some women like to verbally communicate while receiving, and some need total silence. Sexual stigmas may have duped us into thinking that all vaginas are the same, but we know different. Here are the top five things that women and/or those with vaginas have differing opinions about when it comes to receiving oral sex.


1. Penetration

Penetration during oral sex goes beyond just sticking your tongue inside the vagina--which, by the way, may seem like a basic oral sex go-to for everyone, but just as it can drive some women wild, it can be too strong a sensation for others. For some women, added penetration with their partners’ fingers or with a sex toy is necessary to reach an orgasm during oral sex. For other women, however, the addition of penetration is not only unnecessary, but unwanted. There are some women who are not able to be or are opposed to being penetrated, for any number of reasons, and this wish should be heeded for each individual woman’s experiences and needs. The desire for this specific sensation is certainly not something shared by all women--and of course there’s no shame in feeling either way about penetration during oral (and all other forms of sex)!


2. Sex Toys

For many women, orgasming is literally a labor of love, and requires extra work--and sometimes extra tools. There’s nothing wrong with needing or desiring the addition of sex toys during oral sex, such as a vibrator or a dildo, and every woman should feel entitled to talk with their partners about incorporating such instruments if she wants, knowing that this desire is probably not a reflection of the partners’ abilities to perform, but more of a reflection of requiring more intense sensation to orgasm. Of course, not everyone hopes for the addition of the sex toy! Both an opportunity to enhance a sex act and potentially distract from one, sex toys are merely an option during oral and other sex.


3. Positions

Face-sitting? Kneeling? 69-ing? Good ole fashioned lying on a bed? There’s no one “correct” position to give or receive oral sex, and, just like everything else, women have varying preferences about how and where they want to receive oral sex. For some, ~riskier~ positions like 69 can be sexy in their mutuality, but for others it can feel like work when they should be relaxing. Sitting on a partner’s face to receive oral sex can be a good trick to achieve orgasm for some women who have trouble in other, less intense positions, but it can be totally intimidating or physically difficult to sustain for others. No matter your preference, there’s bound to be a position that makes oral sex its greatest for you, and you should feel entitled to (consensually) explore until you have found it.


4. Communication (Body vs. Verbal)

Some people are just terrible with verbal communication during sexy times, and that’s just the way it is for them--however, it can be especially challenging to muster the courage to speak up with someone’s grill literally all up inside of you when you feel particularly self-conscious about your body and your genitalia, as many women do. For this reason and for many others, some women don’t enjoy or feel comfortable with verbal communication during sex, and so they rely upon non-verbal cues to get the job done. Personally, I’m a big fan of the always efficient “I’m-really-liking-what-you’re-doing-there-don’t-stop-now” hair grab both when receiving and performing oral sex, which communicates so much with so little. Other women love a little dirty talk and/or clear verbal communication to share exactly what it is they want and how they want it. Regardless of whether or not they are verbal or nonverbal, there are a multitude of ways to ensure that you and your partner(s) are respecting one another’s wishes and desires.


5. Roughness Level

While the tissue around and inside the vagina is some of the most sensitive on the body, women have varying tolerances and desires for the different levels of roughness and pressure applied during oral sex. The clitoris itself is obviously *extremely* sensitive, and many women have differing opinions about what kind of clitoral action feels good where and when. Many don’t enjoy direct contact on the clitoris, but wish more for a teasing effect that will most likely build a little as things heat up. Others want something more intense for a longer amount of time. The line between pain and pleasure here is pretty thin and is completely dependent on the receiver, so it is important for partners to communicate in whichever ways suit them so as to avoid physically painful experiences during oral sex.


Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes 

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