Dr. Carol Queen Takes On Bad Head 

My husband is bad at going down on me. The issue isn’t discussing it with him, because I do that. How do I show him how to get better? I’ve tried talking him through it, but that’ s difficult while he’ s down there, and it can kill the vibe. — Betty Blue Balls

There are books and videos about oral sex that could be useful, and extra knowledge is always a good thing if he can match that up with some focus on what he’s doing when. You can also come up with a signal, verbal or otherwise, for when he’s on the right track. This could be pushing his head gently toward the place you want him, or gently away if it isn’t pleasurable. Or, you could just verbalize briefly, like “Too much,” or “No teeth!” Remember to give him positive feedback when he gets it right, especially if it’s in the moment. And make sure you tell him what your nonverbal cues actually mean. Some questionable cunnilingus habits include suction, which can be painful if it’s too strong; letting teeth make contact with the vulva and clitoris; or making your tongue pointy and hard.

All of those tactics might please some people, but they certainly don’t please everyone. When direct or intense clitoral stimulation starts before you’re highly aroused, it can be irritating and even painful. This is a little confusing, mainly because we think of oral sex as “foreplay” and a way to get turned on in the first place. But arousal serves as a kind of painkiller—the more aroused you are, the more sensation that would be too much earlier in sex play becomes pleasurable. So, try foreplay for your foreplay! What kinds of things turn you on? Whether it’s making out, nipple stimulation, hands all over your body, toe-sucking.... Whatever it is, do it before you get to direct clitoral contact.

Check out Nina Hartley’s Guide to Better Cunnilingus, Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Oral Sex, or my Pleasure-Ed video, Going Down: The Official Guide to Cunnilingus. There are also tons of books, like The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus by Violet Blue and She Comes First by Ian Kerner, just for starters. By the way, let me tell you why I call it “foreplay” and not just foreplay. This makes it seem like it’s incidental to the main event, but plenty of people just have oral sex, and that IS their main event. Let’s honor all the nice ways people get it on, not just one way.



illustration: Marcellus Hall

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Photo: Self Portrait Summer 2015 by Stephanie Sarley, via stephaniesarley.com

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