Ask Debby Herbenick | Oral sex, anal sex and sex on your period
TOC's sexpert tackles your most penetrating questions.
Q Can you kindly give me information on sex styles/ways of stroking? I want to have great sex with my wife, and we have had a rough time in our marriage so far due to a poor sex life. We want to be hot in bed.
A Go to YouTube. Type in “Clarence Carter Strokin’.” Then watch, listen and learn—not just from the lyrics (among them are these choice gems: “I stroke it to the east, I stroke it to the west, and I stroke it to the woman that I love the best”) but from the passion, the playfulness and the randiness of “Strokin’.” Sex—good, yummy, tasty sex—isn’t just about lasting long or having orgasms or using the right technique. A woman can walk away from sex with three orgasms and feel as if it was “meh” or she can walk away with zero orgasms and a smile on her face; it depends on what she and her partner want, what they expect from sex and what they get from it. Consider asking your wife what she’d like to feel when you make love together. When you say you want things to “be hot,” what does that mean to you? Would you like more spontaneity? More excitement? To what extent do you feel excited, in the moment or that both of you are able to let go and enjoy the ways that you kiss and touch each other? Consider what you want sex to be, feel and look like. Then ask yourselves what’s holding you back. What types of touch turn her on? You might share your fantasies with her and see if any of them appeal to her (some may, some may not—which is fine). If you’d like to learn more about specific techniques, check out The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex (Cleis Press, $25.95). If you’re hung up on performance issues, read The New Male Sexuality (Bantam, $17). If your wife has trouble letting go during sex or has low desire or you have mismatched sex drives, check out my book, Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction (Rodale, $21.99). Satisfying sex is possible—but it’s often more than a technique away.
Q Before I got with my current partner, I had never had sex while on my period. It feels really good and actually helps me with my cramps, but is it totally safe?
A Assuming that neither you nor your partner has a sexually transmissible infection (STI), then having sex on your period shouldn’t cause any problems. Many women masturbate or have partner sex on their period. Some stimulate their genitals with their hand or a vibrator (or their partner’s tongue) while they have a tampon, menstrual cup or sponge inside the vagina. Other women remove any menstrual products they may have been hiding in their vagina and enjoy penetrative sex play or vaginal intercourse. Just because there’s blood coming out doesn’t mean fun things like fingers, sex toys or a penis can’t go in! Then there are the women who consider their menstruating vaginas to be much like a mullet: When there’s business (a period) in the front, there’s a party in the back. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: Period time is anal-sex time for some.
Q I am a 26-year-old man. I’ve been with my girlfriend for two years, and she tears every time we have sex. Sometimes there’s even a cut just between the end part of her vagina but before the anus. I hope you know what I mean; I don’t know the name for this place. Why is that? And how can we reduce the problem?
A Vaginal tears bring me to tears—or they would, if they were on my vagina. Vaginal cuts can hurt or sting. And your girlfriend has been dealing with these suckers for two whole years? That’s forever in Vagina Land! If your penis is quite thick, you may need to use extra lube. I like Good Clean Love, but local shops such as the Pleasure Chest (3436 N Lincoln Ave, 773-525-7151) and Tulip (3448 N Halsted St, 773-975-1515) stock small sampler packs of lubes if you want to try before you buy a bigger bottle. Even if you’re average (or below-average) sized, try lube! Lube is the friend of many people who love sex. Seriously, lube helps to make sex more pleasurable and comfortable for many people. You might consider what else could be contributing to the tears, too. Is the sex rough? Try gentle, slow sex. Has she asked her gynecologist about this? If not, she should—there are some vulvar (external genital) skin disorders such as lichen sclerosus that can contribute to thinner, more fragile skin that is easily torn during masturbation or partner sex. If she hasn’t gotten a good explanation from her doctor, she should get a referral from the folks at the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (issvd.org)—a fantasmagical group of doctors who know so much about the vagina and vulva that it blows my mind.
Q My husband has never complained about oral sex. He gives it and receives it, but I still feel that it isn’t fair to him. He is amazing when he goes down on me, but I don’t feel I give him the same satisfaction in return. Do you have any amazing tips?
A How come you don’t feel that you give him the same satisfaction as he gives you? Is it because he doesn’t orgasm from oral sex? If so, that’s not necessarily your issue—it may be his. Some men find it extremely difficult to orgasm from oral sex—no matter how many lovers they’ve had or how many interesting techniques they’ve enjoyed. If he does orgasm but you just don’t sense a “wow” factor, ask him about it. Maybe he’s not as expressive as you are about sex and can reassure you how much he enjoys receiving. Perhaps he just doesn’t like to receive oral sex as much as you do. As far as techniques go, enthusiasm is almost always key. Show him how much you enjoy going down on him (that is, assuming you do). Tell him you like it. Or that it makes you feel wet. You can even draw his hand down to your vagina to show him. Some men (okay, many, many men) dig it when their partner looks them in the eye during fellatio, so consider turning to face him. How do you feel about getting down on your knees whilst sucking him off? Or wearing lingerie? Licking slowly with enough spit to make things superwet? Sucking him fairly hard? Do it in front of a mirror; hold a vibrator at the base of his scrotum; touch his scrotum with your fingers while you lick his shaft. These are some options—they’re not everything, but they’re a good start for discussion. Ask him what he thinks about different techniques—what he likes or what he’s only dreamed of feeling or seeing more of with you. Oral sex can be seductive, loving, exciting, wet-vagina-inducing fun. You can do it while getting ready for sex or while having a lazy day together with Netflix. Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm.