Dear Alice,

First, I'd like to thank you for this service! It's been so informative to read the advice you've given others. I'm a female grad student and have just gotten into a relationship for the first time. I have a few questions regarding oral sex: my boyfriend loves to suck my nipples and I feel great when he's doing it, but after a while, my nipples start to feel tender and actually hurt sometimes... is this normal? He's not rough when he's doing it, so I'm not sure why this happens.

Also, when my boyfriend "goes down" on me, I worry about what he thinks of my smell and taste. He says he likes it, but I can't be sure... is there some way of finding out if my scent is normal? Can he pass any infections (to my vagina) from his saliva? (He has had only 1 one-night stand affair and he used a condom that time).

Also, I masturbate him (I stroke his penis) until he "comes," but I'm afraid of tasting his "come." He hasn't asked me to, but I think he would like it if I did... how can I overcome this inhibition? Are there any risks for me? I appreciate any help/advice... Thanks a lot!

—Questions my mother never answered

Dear Questions my mother never answered,

Congrats for being brave enough to ask your questions — others have the same questions, but may feel too nervous to ask anyone about them. Let's begin with nipples. Your nipples may get highly sensitive when aroused, which is why it feels good to have them sucked on during sex. But it is absolutely normal for them to be "overstimulated," touched or sucked too much, to the point of pain or discomfort. Your breasts are filled with numerous nerve endings, which are important in the delivery of milk to a nursing baby. These are the same nerves that make your breasts highly sensitive to touch. Have you let your boyfriend know that you like it when he sucks on your nipples, but that at some point, your nipples get really tender? Maybe you can intersperse activities so that he doesn't suck on your nipples continuously, or you can develop a signal to let him know when it's getting to be too much. This is part of sexual communication, and learning how you each like to be turned on. Try not to make it an issue, but an opportunity for growth and a way to make things more fun!

As far as vaginal smells go, all women have some scent, which varies from woman to woman and from time to time. Some people like the smell, some don't. Unless you have a vaginal infection or poor hygienic practices, your unique fragrance is a normal and healthy part of your sexuality. If your partner says he likes your scent and taste, believe him! The risk of him transmitting any diseases to you from his saliva is low, as few bacteria or viruses are present in a high enough concentration in saliva to be passed on to another person. However, if he has herpes (i.e., cold sores) on his mouth and/or on his lips, it can be transmitted to your vagina through oral sex. If he does have a history of oral herpes, consider using a dental dam/latex barrier or cut a dry condom into a square and use it to cover your vaginal lips, acting as protection in between his mouth and your vulva.

In terms of you tasting his cum, there is a larger risk of transmitting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). HIV can be transferred through unprotected oral sex on a man, and there have recently been a few documented cases in this country. Of course, this is only if your partner is HIV positive. Again, herpes can be transmitted from his penis to your mouth, if he is infected with the herpes virus around his genitals. Unfortunately, herpes is one of those diseases that can be transmitted even when your partner doesn't have symptoms, so it's not a bad idea to use a condom for oral sex.

No need to be scared away from sex. Strong communication with your partner, both being tested, and integrating condoms into your sex life in the beginning can alleviate many problems of trust and/or disease later on. Enjoy your exploring!


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