Dear Patrick: I read your column about the couple who had been together for a decade but stopped having sex. It encouraged me to have an honest conversation about this issue with my lover. I was very nervous to approach the subject since she is not the most open person about physical issues. But I am very glad I did because we discovered that each of us had been doing without lovemaking, even though it was frustrating, because we thought the other woman preferred it that way. We agreed that from now on we would tell each other what was in our hearts about pleasure, and do our best to create a new passion in our relationship.
The trouble for me is that she has expressed a tentative interest in receiving oral sex. When I came out in 1965, this was not very common in the lesbian community of my small city. I simply don’t know if I am able to come up to the challenge. I need a little coaching from an expert!--Sappho
Dear Sappho: I wouldn’t worry too much about a lack of experience. Women have individualistic, touchy, picky clitorises and vulvas that don’t want what any other clitoris or vulva wants. So each time you go down on a new woman, you have to start fresh and learn how to do it all over again.
Before making love, I would ask my partner to take a shower or a bath and perhaps trim her pubic hair. I personally don’t like the shaved-bare look (and I also don’t like it when my lover is experiencing itchy regrowth). I just like to have a little bit better access than you get if the pubic hair is super-long.
I start with her on her back, legs spread, although another position may work for you and your lover. If she feels too vulnerable on her back, she can kneel over your face. I just find it easier to work if she is relaxing and the bed is supporting her weight. Then I can look at her as I part the labia and gently breathe warm air on the outer lips. (Never force air into the vagina itself, however.)
I wet my fingertips and gently trail them down between the labia. When they can be peeled apart, I lick up with the very tip of my tongue, going deeper between them. The inner surface of the outer lips can be quite sensitive. While licking them, with your head turned to the side, you can put pressure on the clitoris with your face or cheek. Then turn your attention to the inner lips. These can vary a lot as to length and thickness. Depending on their shape, give the inner lips some attention as well. Suck them into your mouth and slowly let them slide out. Dip the point of your tongue into her vaginal opening, to see if she is wet. It might feel really good to her if you hum or giggle. Sex doesn’t have to be a silent or solemn affair.
As you go down on her, it’s okay to take a break, come up for air, massage your neck, and ask her how she is doing. Let her know that you want feedback. If something feels really good, she needs to be able to let you know. You may not be able to hear her if she has clasped her thighs together on either side of your head. Set up a signal—“rub my head as long as you like what I’m doing, and tap my head if you don’t.”
After you have teased and licked the rest of her vulva, move up to the clitoris, and give her more direct stimulation. The clitoris is a peak of tissue, diamond-shaped, at the top of the inner labia. By now she will probably be eager to feel your mouth on her clit. The biggest mistake people make is to fasten their lips around the poor little thing and suck the life out of it. There are so many nerve endings in such a small area that clitoris can’t take that much stimulation! Most women prefer soft licking. These tongue strokes may feel best on one side of the clitoris than the other, or she might have a “hot spot” just under the clit or above it, moving the hood back and forth. The advantage of experimentation is that it all feels good, and serves as foreplay.
Because the clitoris is so sensitive, it doesn’t take much to create a brand new sensation. By using the side of your tongue instead of the tip, or by lapping her up the way a kitten laps up cream, or by speeding up, you can make her feel something completely different. Once you find a stroke that works, continue with it even if you feel her clitoris retreat back up under its hood. That happens right before orgasm, so if you stop now, you will interrupt her orgasm. She needs stimulation while she is coming. Once she has had her first orgasm, she might want you to stop immediately, because everything has become very sensitive to the touch, or she might want you to keep on going so she can come again. I wonder which signal you will get.
Some women love oral sex so much that they have no trouble coming right away. Others find that it takes longer for them to learn how or figure out how to come. Letting a partner get you off is more complicated than masturbation. A lover can’t directly perceive your sensations. But she can also surprise and delight you. Surprise is a rare emotion to experience during masturbation, and so is the intimacy that results from knowing another person is doing their best to pleasure you.
If she will let you know whether she needs a slower, firmer, or faster touch, this will all be quite a bit easier. The more communication you get from your partner, the better the sex will be. So I hope she is not too shy to speak her mind. And I also hope that there is reciprocity here, so both of you get to experience the sexual adventures you have wanted to have. There is no reason to wait. Now that you know both of you want a good sex life, you can do whatever you like with each other!