My boyfriend and I have been together a year and recently started having sex. I’m on birth control, we’ve both been tested for STIs, and I’m generally really happy with our relationship.  The problem is that he really wants to please me, but when he goes down on me, it just doesn’t feel great. How do I tell him to try something else?  I don’t want to make him feel bad!

Thank you so much for asking this. So many people (especially people with clitorises!) stress out about exactly this problem, and are too embarrassed to talk about it. But pleasure is a really important part of sex, and definitely shouldn’t be ignored!

Communicating about sex can feel a little awkward at first, and that’s normal. But communicating is also super important, since it’s necessary to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and to get consent.  You and your partner have already talked about STIs and birth control, and you say you’re happy with your relationship—it sounds like you already have some great communication going on, and that’s awesome!

It can be nerve-racking to tell a partner that something isn’t working for you.

But there’s really no reason to worry. It sounds like your boyfriend cares about what you want and how to make you feel good, so he’ll probably appreciate any tips you give him! You don’t have to tell your boyfriend that he’s doing a bad job. Instead, tell him what you do like, or suggest that you two try something new together. Ask him to move a little to the left, use a bit more pressure, or try using his fingers.

You also might feel more comfortable talking about sex when you’re not in the middle of sexy times. Consider bringing up what you’d like to try when you’re just hanging out, with no pressure or distractions. Talking about sex will get easier the more you do it.

Of course, it’s easier to communicate when you actually know what you want.

If you masturbate, think about what you do to make yourself feel good when you’re alone, and ask him to try that. If not, get to know your own body when you’re alone and you can concentrate solely on your own pleasure, without worrying about what your boyfriend is thinking!

Remember: People experience pleasure in all sorts of different ways, and it may take a while to figure out what works for you. Never feel bad about asking for what you want in bed. Sex should be fun, so enjoy getting to know yourself a bit better!