Dear Alice,

My girlfriend enjoys performing oral sex on me, but can't seem to get much more than the head in her mouth without gagging. How can she learn to take more in? Oh, incidentally, I'm just of ordinary penis size.

— Fellatio

Dear Fellatio,

Lollipops, popsicles, and corndogs may be fun and gag-free for many people, but penises may conjure up different sensations. Oral sex may be a pleasurable experience for everyone involved when the participants are comfortable and willing. This may be an area where you and your partner may want to better communicate and work together to optimize both ease and enjoyment.

Perhaps you may ask your partner specific questions to better assess the conundrum:

  • At which point does your partner start to gag?
  • Does your partner's mouth feel too full?
  • Is your penis touching the back of your partner's throat or the sides?
  • Is it something physical, psychological, or both?
  • More importantly, is this something your partner wants to do or finds pleasurable?

Once you and your partner uncover more about what happens when your partner starts to gag, together you may try to solve the problem. If it's purely a physical thing, your partner may consider practicing to curb the gag reflexes. Perhaps phallic food items, like yummy carrots, bananas, and zucchinis, may serve as practice items and as a nutritious, post-oral workout snack. If your partner's ready for the real deal, try using your partner's hand to guide your penis into your partner's mouth. That way, your partner may control when, how far, and how fast your penis will move. Try different positions, with you on your knees, lying down, with your partner on top, standing up, etc., to see if one position or another lets your partner feel more comfortable. As with many sexual behaviors, many variations of oral sex exist — you may want to research the Sexual and Reproductive Health archives. Experiment, see what works, and be willing to delay or give up your oral pleasure for other pleasures if your partner's unable to do it.

Some people experience psychological challenges with sex, including oral sex. Is your partner anxious, nervous, or emotionally uncomfortable with performing the act? If so, consider encouraging your partner to communicate negative and positive feelings, opinions, and history towards oral sex. Empathizing with your partner's situation may help you better understand this mouthful of an issue. When appropriate, try to clarify any misinformation or misunderstandings — again, check out the archives as a resource — as well as respect your partner's reasons. Forcing something down your partner's throat (literally!) may easily lead to distasteful feelings. However, at the right points in conversation, you may squeeze in your desire and deep enjoyment of oral pleasure as a reason for consideration for your partner. You have the right to ask, and your partner has the right to refuse. Perhaps a pleasurable consensus may erect from honest and respectful discussion. Trust, communication, and consent are key to fulfilling sexual experiences — patience and reassurance may help lubricate the process. You may find it helpful to talk to a counselor, either by yourself or with your partner.

Unzipping the issue(s) about oral sex with communication, empathy, and respect will hopefully help you insert your ideas and your "fellow" to a deeper level!


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