Ian Kerner, the New York sex therapist, told me that he works with a lot of men who would like to perform oral sex but are rebuffed by their partner. “I know the stereotype is often that men are the ones who don’t want to perform it, but I find the reverse,” he said. “A lot of women will say when I’m talking to them privately, ‘I just can’t believe that a guy wants to be down there, likes to do that. It’s the ugliest part of my body.’ ” When I asked 20-somethings about oral sex, a pretty sizable minority of women sounded a similar note. “Receiving makes me nervous. It feels more intimate than penetration,” wrote one woman. “I become so self-conscious and find it difficult to enjoy,” wrote another.
Another midshipman, according to an annual Defense Department report on misconduct at the service academies, was charged and convicted of sexual assault in late 2017 after assaulting a female classmate. The male midshipman was dismissed from the Navy after a court-martial and sentenced to 30 months confinement. He also registered as a sex offender.
Sexual behavior changes over time as a reflection of age, experience, and one's relationship. And the trajectory of change may vary between men and women. Women may encounter difficulties in navigating cultural attitudes about sexual behavior and promiscuity as they first explore their sexuality; age brings confidence and skill at communication that can enhance sex life. Young men often have concerns about performance, penis size, or premature ejaculation—and anxiety is no friend to performance for either men or women. Men often experience challenges with arousal and erectile dysfunction as they age. Couples tend to report that their sex life is most robust when they are in their 30s and 40s, but sex life is often most deeply rewarding for older partners. People can enjoy satisfying sex throughout the lifespan if they make adjustments for the many changes that time brings; that can mean relying less on penile penetration and more on massage, whole-body touching, and oral sex.