OK, yes, there is more to receiving oral sex than having an orgasm — the closeness and sensation alone can be satisfying — but we can probably all agree that an O is often the cherry on top of an all-consuming, sweaty, oh-my-god-don’t-stop sex session. Getting there, though, can be the difficult part, even if your partner is eager, willing and doing his or her best to send you into the stratosphere. If you find that your O is far, far away (which is common!) it’s time to take the reins.

“Sex is a two-way thing, even oral,” says Alex B. Porter, author of The Cunnilinguist: How To Give And Receive Great Oral Sex. “You can’t just expect to lie there and have an orgasm delivered on a plate. For most of us with a vulva, that’s simply not possible. You need to be involved, mentally and physically.” Say no more. Below, pro secrets for orgasming during oral sex.

Get as comfortable as possible

If you’re in charge of the environment, Porter says, prep it in advance. Do scented candles do it for you? Music? Are you a lights-on or lights-off kind of girl? Then, it’s time for foreplay with your partner — and lots of it — before they go downtown. Think of oral as the main event, not a stop on the way to penetrative sex. “Engaging in a lot of foreplay, kissing, touching, stroking — just getting your juices flowing for a while before oral sex — can help you stay in the moment,” says Elle Chase, ACS, certified sex educator and author of Curvy Girl Sex.

As you start to get aroused, do a body scan: Do you feel comfortable? Is your partner comfortable? Is there anything in your environment that’s distracting you? “Don’t be afraid to cover up,” Porter says. “Keep your top half on or your bra if it helps ease anxiety. Have a pillow or blanket at hand if you feel too exposed or start to get a chill.”

Assume the perfect position

When you’re turned on and ready to go, grab a pillow and place it under your butt, and put your head and neck on one, too. “[This] will help with your comfort and tilt the pelvis, placing the clit in a more accessible position and giving your partner better, easier access to pleasure you,” Porter says. “Don’t spread your legs too far; about shoulder-width is best — just enough for your partner to fit between them. This keeps the pelvis and all your bits tighter together and can increase sensation.”

Focus on your breathing

“Many of us take shallow breaths during sex,” Chase says. “Making sure you’re taking nice deep breaths will keep you in the moment and more apt to receive.”

In fact, go further than that: “Close your eyes and become absorbed in the sensations,” Porter says. “Feel every in-and-out breath travel through your body — right down your entire body to your clit and toes. Allow yourself to become lost and engulfed in the moment.”

Be the director of your own orgasm

Now that your partner is down below, stay involved. Communication is not only necessary during sex, but telling your partner what you like can be a huge turn-on for both of you. “Giving them directions in a positive way, like, ‘That feels good, a little to the left’ or ‘That’s so hot — harder and faster, baby’ should do the trick,” Chase says. “But if they’re not even in the right ballpark, consider the more direct approach. Touch or expose the area you want them to go to town on, and say something simple like, ‘Right there.’ It will get the point across right away.”

Go wild expressing yourself physically, too: “Touch yourself. Feel and grope your breasts, slide your hands down your body,” Porter says. “Join in with your partner in turning yourself on. This can really ramp up sensation, and, mentally, it helps you let go and become more in the moment.”

When things really heat up, don’t be afraid to guide your partner’s head or grip it and hold it when they’re doing exactly what you like. Grind against their face if you want to. Trust us, your partner will love the feedback.

If your partner needs more practice, teach them: Masturbate in front of them and playfully tell them they can’t touch. “Tease them until they’re literally drooling over you,” Porter says. Educational — and you’ll be that much closer to an O.

Remember: There’s no such thing as taking too long

“You take the time you take and that’s that,” Chase says. “Sometimes it could take 10 minutes, sometimes it could take 20 minutes, and sometimes it might take longer. The point is, feeling rushed to have an orgasm works against the ability to orgasm.”

However, if you start to feel that oral sex is just not doing the trick, give your partner’s neck and tongue a break and try something different to get that O.

“As a couple, you need to remember that you’re having sex for pleasure, and while both of you may be desperate for it to be via a mind-blowing mouth-to-pussy orgasm, that just might not be the case this time,” Porter says. “If it ends up being fingers, a vibrator, or something else, that’s OK. The oral will have contributed to bringing you to orgasm; it just might not be the thing that delivers the final kick every time.”

A version of this story was published March 2019.

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