Aunt Vadge: I can only get off on oral sex

Hi, Aunt Vadge,

I apologize if this question has been answered on this site elsewhere, but I haven’t seen it and wanted to know what’s wrong with me.

I’m 21 and since a very young age (13) I’ve been sexually active. I’ve noticed that the idea of sex kinds of turns me on but I don’t get wet when I’m trying to have sex. Only after someone goes down on me.

I’ve currently been with my boyfriend for about two years. I love him and I’m attracted to his personality as well as his physical features. He’s also good in bed and foreplay (he always makes me orgasm).

I was wondering why I don’t get wet unless a man or woman goes down on me, no matter how much kissing and touching happens. Sometimes I desire sex, most times I don’t, but even when I do, I don’t get wet and feel that turned-on throbbing feeling in my vagina like I used to.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I feel ashamed of my sexual past or because I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times…. 

But other than that I don’t know. Please help me. My boyfriend is getting very frustrated.

Yours,
Whet

Dear Whet,

Thank you very much for your email. You have presented an interesting – but not that uncommon – set of sexual preferences: the kind that doesn’t always suit our partners!

First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. If oral sex is how you get off, then so be it. Some people can’t orgasm during sex (men and women), some people like just the tip in, others want their nipples tweaked three times and their clit scraped with sandpaper.

Each of us has our own version of sex that really gets us off. Oral sex is your preference, which is just as right as your boyfriend’s preference for penetration.

Why you can’t get wet unless someone puts their tongue on your vagina is one of life’s great mysteries. Maybe it’s because oral sex is awesome? There really is nothing quite like the feeling of tongue.

What can’t be ignored, however, is that the residual impacts of sexual violence run deep, so it actually isn’t so much of a surprise that – maybe – your body instinctively rejects even the mere thought of penetration by disallowing your sexual response in this way, a way which oral sex manages to overcome.

Our nervous systems and brains are pretty complex, so it wouldn’t be so far out to join the dots of your sexual responsiveness (as mixed up as it seems) with sexual assault.

There is immense value in at least attempting to understand, at your own pace with someone you trust, if this is just how you were born, or if it is the psycho-sexual impact of multiple sexual assaults.

It’s worth knowing which it is, but you won’t know until you investigate it. Sexual assault needs to be unpacked because until you do, it will bleed into every aspect of your life. It must be dealt with until it’s dealt with. It’s a terrible burden to carry, so if you haven’t already, seek help, and follow it through.

Don’t try to solve this for your boyfriend’s sake though; do it for you and future you, who may well find that she can really enjoy sex (and even orgasm this way), since having a broad range of sexual preferences is better than being limited!

You are a sexual creature and you know what you like, which is absolutely wonderful and will hold you in good stead for the rest of your life. You are an adventurer and I admire you.

Here are some suggestions of interesting interventions to help you on your psycho-sexual journey:

Therapy is going to be your first port of call, and is so valuable. While it may not change your sexual response directly, it is a necessary adjunct to the life of anyone who has experienced trauma, particularly sexual violence, which is insidious in its impacts. The physical pain goes away, but the emotional damage lasts. Don’t let it screw you over. Understand it.

EFT/NLP is a therapy that can really delve into your psyche and see what lies beneath without you really having to do a great deal. A therapist guides you through the process of finding where problems are hiding, and rewire your brain so you can respond in a more positive way.

Again, this may not even be why you don’t like penetrative sex, but you won’t regret it, since finding out more about yourself is what life is all about. Find a great therapist in your area, and give it a try. You may only need one or two sessions, but it can really help you to sidestep some difficult mental, emotional and physical problems while (paradoxically) tackling them head-on.

Listen do Dan Savage on the Savage Lovecast. Presumably you have a smartphone, so subscribe on the iTunes store to Dan Savage, and learn about the gazillion weird and wonderful ways that exist to do each other, the ways to accept each other the way you are, and what to do with it all in a sex-positive way.

Mr Savage is a sex-advice genius, so listen to each episode with your boyfriend, laugh at other people’s problems and enjoy learning about the greater landscape of sex and its role in our lives. It’s hilarious and wonderful.

Talk with your boyfriend about this so that he understands without it being a fight that this is just the way it is. You understand that it’s possible that you might be suffering the very internalised impacts of sexual assaults, but that that is just as mysterious to you as it is to him, and it may well be that in fact this is just the way your body works.

You need his love, patience, acceptance and kindness, and while you understand that he is frustrated, you both need to get more creative in your sexual experimentation so he can be satisfied, because this sexual preference isn’t going anywhere. Just the way he may prefer penetration, you prefer oral sex – don’t force it or ignore this important fact.

There are so many ways to have sex, with penetration only being one of them, so your job as a couple is to find ways that sexually satisfy yourself and your boyfriend without doing things you don’t like. It’s a two-way street, but it has to be happily trod as a couple.

It sounds like an interesting conundrum you are in, and it would be fascinating to know the outcome of your investigations no matter what they yield. Learning about our individual sexual tastes is an ongoing journey, since they tend to shift and change as we grow, change partners, and experience new delights of the flesh. Let us know how you go!

Talk to us anytime.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.