This question was asked in person, so I’m going to paraphrase it:
I’ve had other kinds of sex before, but somehow I’ve never gone down on someone with a vagina. And because I’ve done other stuff before, I feel like people I hook up with expect me to know how to do it. But I don’t. And I’m nervous.
Okay, reader who was brave enough to ask me this question in person, this one’s for you. Consider it our follow-up to How To Have Lesbian Sex For the First Time (and yes, the language we choose for these headlines are chosen for search engine optimization reasons!).
Remember That All Vaginas Are Different
And different vaginas like different things, which is why it’s hard for us to give you any across-the-board advice. It doesn’t actually matter if you’ve gone down on zero vaginas or 103 — when you’re going down on someone for the first time, it’s as if you’ve never gone down on anyone before. Everyone likes totally different sensations in bed, so everyone starts from the beginning when faced with a new vagina. Your inexperience here is a complete non-issue in terms of skill. (The only rule you need to know ahead of time is to be careful about where your teeth end up!) Sure, people take some tips and tricks with them from partner to partner, but in the end communication will win.
Talk About It
Mouths aren’t just for oral sex! They’re for talking, too. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying things like:
“Just FYI, I’ve never gone down on a vagina before.”
“I’m nervous because the only thing I’ve ever licked consistently is a tootsie pop. But I’m really into doing this with you.”
“I feel scared that you’re not gonna like what I do going down on you, so just grab my hair and put me in the right spot if I’m not there already!”
Be clear with your partner that you’re totally into feedback in the moment. As in, “a little to the left,” “harder” or “keep doing that.” Remember: harder is not always better. It depends entirely on the person, but don’t assume that hard and fast always wins the race ’til you hear it from your partner.
For the vagina-havers who are receiving this great oral sex — I hear a lot of people feel weird about giving feedback because they think they’re being selfish or making sex too much about them. First: your body is involved. This sex is partially about you. Second, feedback is about your partner, not just about you. Feedback makes people feel comfortable while they’ve got their mouth on your vulva. Tell them when they’ve hit the spot, or if they’re being too soft or too hard with you. It’s not just about you getting what you want — it’s about your partner getting what they want, too.
Most of the time, my advice revolves around communication. But I do recognize that sometimes practical tips need to exist, because confidence. It’s easier to begin a road trip with a map, even if someone’s going to give you a few directions as you go. So, here are just a few tips and tricks:
Use Your Whole Mouth…
It’s fun to tease your partner by lightly flicking the tip of your tongue over the whole area, just barely tickling her clit and tracing both sides of her vagina, to get warmed up (or to take an intensity break). But there’s a lot more to our mouths than the tip of the tongue! Your tongue is three dimensional and has many different surfaces. You can lightly suck on things. You’ve got lips, too! Why should you use your whole mouth, you ask?
The clitoris is more than just the visible part we think of as “the button.” The darker pink bits in the above picture are the internal parts of the clitoris, and they also respond to sensation. Using just the tip of your tongue isn’t going to reach all that wonderful goodness — show the rest of that structure some love! Keep in mind that even things that aren’t part of the clitoris can be pleasurable for your hookup/partner/person.
Try a bunch of different tactics: flatten your tongue and lick the whole area (like an ice cream cone!), give hard pressure with your tongue, suck on the clitoris (or suck on the clitoral hood while flicking your tongue against the clit), press against different parts of the vulva with your lips or go in circles around the clit with your tongue. You can also tease the vaginal opening with your tongue, or get really wild and dip your tongue all the way in.
Sometimes there’s a knee-jerk tendency to respond to omg-I’m-about-to-come noises by starting to do what you were doing harder and faster. She’s excited and gripping your hand, you’re excited and gripping her thigh, and naturally you keep upping the ante as excitement builds. Every person is different, of course, but in general the best thing to do is exactly what you were doing to get your partner “almost there” in the first place, instead of switching or going faster/harder — which actually requires a lot of concentration and focus. Like pretty much all of your concentration and focus.
…Unless Your Hookup Wants Something Specific
Experimentation is super fun, and experimenting with different sensations and different parts of your mouth is part of the awesome. But, as you’ve already told your hookup/partner/person that you want feedback in the moment, be sure to listen to that feedback. It can sometimes be hard to pull away from something you’re trying, but unless teasing is part of the game, remember to focus on the bits that feel good to that particular vagina.
Are We Supposed to Make Noises?
There is no “supposed to” in the bedroom department, and this is no different. But “they” say that making noises like you’re eating a delicious ice cream sundae (i.e., humming) can feel sensational for the vulva that you’re sexing up. Like anything else, it works for some people and not for others. Unless your hookup/partner/person asks for something different, I usually default to my acting training here. And no, that doesn’t mean “pretend to make porn noises.” It actually means that there’s no need to react in any way you wouldn’t normally react. If you’re going to make noises, they should be your truth noises — the ones you really really want to make in the moment, or the ones you can’t keep in. Making a noise like you’re eating the best damn sandwich in the world just because you want them to know you’re having fun, though, might ring false to your hookup/partner/person.
Pillows: They Help
I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I got old enough that my neck hurts when I put it in strange positions. Such as that my neck winds up in during vagina-style oral sex. I resisted the aid of pillows for a while, thinking it would be unsexy to ask people to lift their butts up so I could put a pillow underneath them before going to town. What is less sexy, though, is ceasing mouth-to-vulva contact because you have the equivalent of a charlie horse in your neck. If you’re doing things traditionally, sliding a pillow under the receiver’s bum is a great way to raise their hips up so that you don’t have to gumby into bizarre positions. If you’re going with a less traditional position, apply that same ingenuity to other objects in the room. Using pillows or furniture to get the perfect position is a great way to go. Or you can have them sit on your face if your neck gets tired.
Turn Your Oral Presentation Into A Multimedia One
With your partner/hookup/person’s permission, you don’t have to do ONLY ORAL SEX. There are all sorts of other things you can do while you are orally sexing — fingers in the vaginal opening, fingers in the anus, butt plug, g-spot vibrator, nipple pinching and outer-thigh slapping.
I bet if I challenge y’all to think of stuff that pairs with oral sex like wine pairs with a good meal, y’all can come up with at least 50 things to do while your tongue/mouth is doing its thang. In fact yes, I do challenge you to do that. What are 50 other things you can do in bed while your mouth is on a vulva? Go.
But What If It’s That Time of the Month?
I advocate for an enthusiasm much like the following:
Bodily fluids are bodily fluids, and if you’re fluid bonded and STI tested, period fluid is absolutely fine to get all over your mouth and face. If you are not fluid bonded and STI tested, please consider making your sex safer by using dental dams and gloves regardless of the time of the month. And if the person you intend to go down on says she does not want to because she’s on her period, that’s okay too. Just assure this lovely human that you’re totally cool with it, either way. Some people just don’t feel sexy on their periods, and I recommend watching a Netflix marathon with a cute hot water bottle until a sexier time comes around.
Remember: The Person Giving Oral Sex Should Like It Too
You are also having sex here. Which means you get to have a (rol)licking good time as well. If your hookup/partner/person is unsure of what they want or down for exploring or says something to the effect of “if your mouth is on my vulva, I’m having a good time,” then figure out what feels good on your mouth. That’s as good a way as any way to figure out new ways to interact with a vulva — perhaps you really like the way lightly sucking the clit feels? Cool, do that! If your partner says that’s not their thing, do another thing that feels good on your mouth. As it was written in the Autostraddle guide to Having Lesbian Sex for the First Time, “your body was born knowing how to have sex like it knows how to eat and knows how to walk.” You might find if you stop thinking so hard, a lot of this could come naturally!
So go forth, reader, and put your mouth on a vulva. Don’t let anxiety hold you back — you’re gonna do just fine.