Ask Debby Herbenick - dirty sex toys, oral-sex technique
Debby answers your most-penetrating sex questions. This week: fellatio tips
Q: Regarding the woman that asked about getting her boyfriend to climax from oral [In & Out, TOC 69], her comment about the curvature of the penis made me think she may want to try going at it from the opposite direction—taking it from a 69-type position. I’ve found that the natural curvature of the mouth and throat lets you get a lot more in your mouth and may help with her “problem.”
A: Absolutely. Assuming the penis is curved toward the man’s abdomen, a turn-around position should work well where she’s facing his feet and he’s checking out her butt. Then again, she didn’t mention which way it curved—left, right, up, down. Either way, if she can face the curve head-on, it may work better, at least in terms of getting her mouth around his penis. Whether it’s comfortable to take it in and out of her mouth, and whether that type of stimulation works for him or not, is another story.
Q: I have been seeing and having sex with a woman for seven months. I’ve always known that she likes vibrators, but it is only recently that she has let me see the vibrators that she likes and, last week, asked me to use them on her. I like watching her squirm around in the bed when I use it on her, but I am grossed out about touching the vibrator knowing that she has used it for a long time. It feels dirty to me, like I should be wearing gloves before touching it. That probably sounds bad, but I can’t help but think there might be germs. You seem to know a lot about sex toys. What do you think? Is there a way to make things cleaner?
A: I suppose you could go live in a little germ-reduced world, where you wear gloves to open doors and a Jacko-like mask when leaving your house, but most of us learn to live in the real world. We sip from each other’s cups, eat off friends’ dinner plates, and even, gulp, have sex (a.k.a. swap fluids) and kiss (a.k.a. swap spit). Since you’ve been having sex for months, I assume you have come into contact with her vaginal fluids by now either through oral sex, fingering or—if you’ve already ditched condoms—then perhaps even through intercourse. Yes, the vagina is a rich bacterial environment, but there are “good” and “bad” bacteria, and it’s quite clean. If your partner doesn’t regularly wash her vibrator, I’d be concerned—but more for her vaginal health than your hands. Sex toys should indeed be washed after each use. Generally, warm water and soap are good enough (avoiding the battery-pack area) but some people use a special toy cleaner purchased online or through local sex shops before rinsing with warm water. Vibrators generally come with cleaning instructions specific to that toy (instructions vary based on the material it’s made of). If she’s lost her instructions, ask for info at local adult stores or e-mail me for links that I think are particularly helpful. Some women who use insertive vibrators place a lubricated condom on the vibe before putting it in their vagina, thus raising the cleanliness bar.
If you continue to feel freaked out about touching an object that has been used for masturbation, consider this thought: Most people—men in particular—masturbate with their hands. And you shake people’s hands all day long. In other words, your girl’s vibrator is not the first masturbatory object you’ve touched, so move on. We trust people to wash their hands after doing the deed with their own or their partner’s genitals. Have a little faith in your girlfriend and embrace the fact that her vibrator—though perhaps in need of postaction cleaning—is probably fine to touch. If you truly cannot get over it, ask her to use it on herself while you watch, but please don’t make her feel dirty about her vagina or her masturbation.
Q: I am a 31-year-old male who has been sexually active for more than a decade. Sex for me has been very frustrating because I have never been able to ejaculate with a partner. Even when I masturbate, it can be very hard to ejaculate, though it does happen with much effort. I feel as if my penis is very insensitive and am wondering if there is any way to make the penis more sensitive? Lotions, oils, piercings, drugs (legal) and whatever else. My doctors think that I am having this problem due to psychological issues, and that I should work on these issues in order to solve this problem. That is all fine and dandy, and I do work on these issues, but I do not want to wait until these issues are resolved, as that can take many years. I want to start enjoying sex now, not years later from now. Any help is appreciated.
A: While some men (and women) have insensitive genitals—and this can cause problems with orgasms or (for men) ejaculation—more often difficulty with ejaculating is related to performance anxiety, body image, relationship stress, fears about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, or other psychological or interpersonal issues. Some men find it difficult to ejaculate (what we call inhibited ejaculation, which I prefer over the old-school term of—I kid you not—retarded ejaculation) with a partner because they have gotten used to a relatively unusual form of stimulation. For example, I’ve spoken with several men whose masturbation technique has included rubbing up against their bed sheets or pillows—not using their hand—and they have become so used to that type of stimulation that hand jobs, blow jobs, and vaginal or anal penetration did not make them orgasm until they spent time retraining their bodies to respond to different forms of stimulation. Assuming you’ve been checked out by a urologist who has a significant amount of expertise in ejaculatory issues (and not all do), your doctors may be right that this will take time to work through. Are you seeing a sex therapist? If not, consider doing so. Other counselors and therapists may be able to assist with whatever psychological issues you are dealing with, but certified sex therapists (locate one through www.aasect.org) tend to have more experience seeing men with inhibited ejaculation. And, to be honest, it can be more difficult to treat than some other conditions (like premature ejaculation) so it’s worth seeing an expert. Some “heightening” creams (like X-scream from www.pureromance.com) may make your penis feel more sensitive. You may be able to create a similar effect by asking your partner to suck on an Altoids or other mint before performing oral sex on you for a tingly sensation. Like many sex tricks, however, these are gambles, because some people love this stuff and others don’t. Warming lubricants may be fun, too, and you can practice with these during masturbation. Some men find that genital piercings enhance sensation, but many don’t, and it seems a bit drastic of a step to me when there may be other options. In the end, I truly believe that a sex therapist will be your best bet, so please think long and hard about it.
Send letters to Debby Herbenick, mph c/o Time Out Chicago, 247 South State Street, 17th floor, Chicago, IL 60604, or send e-mail to email@example.com.