Dear MKE SEX,

About eight months ago, I had a baby. The birth was hard, but just a normal kind of hard. Nothing dramatic. My husband was great during the whole thing, and afterward we felt closer than ever before. That feeling has continued as we raise this little person. There’s only one problem. Ever since the birth, he hasn’t been willing to go down on me. Like, not even once. We have intercourse pretty often, but oral sex has always been a regular part of our sex life. What’s going on here, and what can I do about it?

Thanks,
Unpolished Pearl

Dear Pearl,

Congratulations on your new baby, and on your deeper connection to your husband. It sounds like your life is suddenly very full. During periods like this, communication between partners often gets laid aside. You’re both still tired from meeting the needs of another human 24 hours a day, and if you feel closer as a result of your birth, it’s easy to forget to check in about sex stuff. Our culture really perpetuates the idea that sex should be low on your priority list, especially if you’re a parent.

But for many couples, sex is an important act that holds them together during life’s trials. When something about sex changes suddenly, it’s important to talk about it. Even though I haven’t talked to your husband, I have a few theories about his hesitation. In our culture, men are taught to be the protector in their romantic/sexual relationships. During your birth, your husband was really supportive, but there is no way to protect someone from the hard work of labor and childbirth. Most new dads are in awe of their partner’s strength. Many also really suffer from a sense of powerlessness at witnessing something so raw and powerful.

Additionally, if he watched the baby emerge, he saw your genitals do something extraordinary. The normal stretching and opening of the vagina leaves quite an impression. I witnessed hundreds of births as a doula and midwife, and it was always a bit of a surprise. While it’s happening, it’s easy to doubt the process. After it’s over, it’s also easy to believe nothing will ever be the same.

As a society, we also tend to believe that mothers in particular aren’t appropriate recipients of sexual desire or pleasure. Mothers are too good, too pure, too holy for that kind of earthly delight. No one wants to think about their own mothers having sex, let alone acknowledge that it’s important to her life.

Any or all of these things could be at the root of your husband’s lack of appetite for oral. It might be really helpful for him to check out your genitals in a non-sexual setting. Invite him to sit down between your legs and really take a good long look. Tell him he can touch you, open your labia a little, check out the vaginal opening. This is an opportunity for him to see that you aren’t damaged. Doing this outside of sex is important because there’s no pressure for him to do anything but look at you.

If he’s still not willing to go down on you after some good communication and surveying the new landscape, it’s time for other solutions. There is no ethical way to talk someone into a sex act, no matter how bad you want it. However, for a lot of women, clitoral stimulation is necessary for orgasm. If your orgasms have primarily come from oral sex, you’re probably especially frustrated right now. But, just as he has the right to not perform oral sex, you have the right to a satisfying sex life. Explore other ways to stimulate your clitoris. Using fingers and vibrators can be very effective and very sexy.

Ultimately, whether you resume oral sex or find a satisfying alternative, you are building on a solid foundation. Stay open to talking through it, and use this to grow closer to each other.

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.