Ask A Sex Therapist: I feel awkward 69ing, what can I do?


“While dual oral stimulation can feel amazing, it can also be an overwhelming sensation for a lot of people.”

Laura Miano is a sex therapist based in Melbourne and co-founder of sex toy concept store Posmo. Her mission is to empower people to create a more fulfilling sex life and to support those who might like to explore their sexuality beyond cultural norms. To learn more about her, follow @lauramianosexology or contact her here.

I’ve recently tried 69ing with my partner and while it seemed like a good idea in theory, the experience was a little… awkward. I’m ready to try again. How do I make it a more pleasurable experience? – Overwhelmed

Hi, Overwhelmed! I totally understand. While dual oral stimulation can feel amazing, it can also be an overwhelming sensation for a lot of people. It can already be difficult to orgasm without concentrating on pleasing another partner, making focus during 69ing harder to achieve. 

What is the 69 position? 

For those who don’t know, 69ing is when you and your partner are both giving and receiving oral stimulation simultaneously. This can happen in a variety of positions, all aiming for the same end goal – mutual pleasure.

You and your partner are both positioned face to genitals, curved against each other, making a shape loosely representing the digits six and nine. Yes, this is also why teenagers across the world collectively giggle when someone refers to ‘the sex number’. 

Get introspective

When it comes to trying something new in the bedroom, it’s helpful to understand the motivations behind the urge. Try to reflect on your reasons – or your partner’s – for wanting to try 69ing. Is it really what they want, or are they trying to live up to a cultural standard? We know sex can have a lot of shame, stigma and pressure attached to it, which is why it’s important to ask some questions.

Did you see it somewhere and are curious? Is your partner super keen? If the reasons aren’t genuine, having an unenjoyable time is far more likely. When it comes to sex, always remember you don’t need to try anything if you don’t want to. In fact, you can be sex-positive, horny and explorative without trying 69ing! No need to succumb to cultural pressure. 

The barriers to pleasure

To help unpack you or your partner’s possible hesitations, let’s look at some of the main issues when it comes to 69ing. As with any sexual experience, performance anxiety can stop you from feeling true enjoyment. There’s an understandable fear when it comes to new positions that we won’t be able to ‘do it right’. 69ing can feel quite confronting and it might be hard to focus on receiving pleasure while also giving it.

Again, the dual oral sex stimulation experience can require a little extra coordination and concentration from both parties. While it can be really wonderful, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed or disconnected from your body, with an added pressure to reach orgasm. If you’re feeling panicked or anxious already, receiving oral sex – and trying to give it – will most likely not feel good. 

As we discussed with anal sex, dual oral sex can also sometimes elicit a disgust response. Having your partner’s genitals extremely up close and personal might cause your subconscious to recoil – and that’s okay!

By giving what you’re also receiving, it brings your attention closer to what your partner is doing to you. Some people choose to disconnect from that (i.e. by not kissing their partners after they’ve given head) as making that connection might be a little too much to handle. 

In the same way, it’s possible you might feel exposed during 69ing. There’s a lot going on and while you’re on the way to finding the right position, you might feel it’s just generally uncomfortable. If you’re feeling any of these concerns (or a different one altogether), remember communication is key. There are two people in this sexual equation and telling your partner is the first step to a better connection.

How to improve it

Foreplay, baby! Going straight into 69ing – or any sexual ‘main event’, for that matter – is so unexciting. Build up to it by using your tongue, lips and hand to stimulate each other’s entire bodies. If you start off kissing, you’ll have to make the journey past your partner’s ears, neck, chest, arms, belly, hips, bum and thighs to get to their genitals – so make use of it! Go slow, set the tone and work on getting in the mood

Once you’re in 69 territory, don’t just focus on the oral. The positions might seem restrictive, but they leave you with free hands and fabulous access to all the intimate areas. While stimulating, touch your partner’s bum or use your fingers and hands for added stimulation on their vagina or testicles. Caress their chest, kiss their thighs and tickle their nipples for extra playful points. 

Amp it up

As we’ve learnt, there’s more than one way to 69. Positions include one on top of the other (one partner laying down, face up), side by side (or as writer Rose Surnow deems it, ‘the lazy 69′), or on a bed (one partner lying down, the other leaning forward). You can find more options here.

You can also turn the heat up with a mirror next to the bed – some people really enjoy watching themselves having sex. Another option is your favourite sex playlist to get in the mood (options here!).

Finally, try communicating how good it feels with your body language and voice. Moaning, grabbing and breathing heavily will not only communicate that you’re enjoying it but will also aid in further arousing both you and your partner. 

Don’t tire yourself out

If you’re fearing fatigue or just want to kick it up a notch, there are plenty of amazing toy options to choose from so you can do just that. Use a finger vibrator, clit stimulator or dildo to break it up and give your mouth a break.

From my sex toy shop Posmo, I can recommend the Dame Fin and Smile Makers Surfer for clit and full labia stimulation. Because you’re already right up close and personal (i.e. looking right at your partner’s genitals), it will be easy to place the toys in the right places and directions. 

For further great toys, try the Lora Di Carlo Onda – this would make for seriously mind-blowing head. Use it internally and let the toy’s stroker stimulate their G-spot, while you focus on their external parts. The Nexus Fortis is another sleek option – use it on your partner’s G-spot, or P-spot if they’re a penis owner. So good! 

And remember, if you try using the advice above and still find yourself feeling uncomfortable or unsettled, try seeing a sex therapist. They can help to explore the deeper messages and feelings around oral sex, allowing you to break down those internal barriers.

For more on 69ing, head here.

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