Duck’s breath

Pub date November 7, 2007


Dear Andrea:

I just found your column by accident, and I love it! Major props to you for being such a talented sex columnist and a mother!

My problem: Between the ages of 19 and 31, I had bulimia. I’m now 37. I love going down on my man, but I feel I gag more than I should. I’ve wondered if it has anything to do with the purging I engaged in when younger. Do you have any ideas for how I could retrain myself so that my gag reflex is not so prominent (if such a thing is even possible)?


Gag Me

Dear Gag:

Forget being a writer-mother (most female writers have accomplished that, haven’t they, without feeling the need for extraspecial acknowledgment?) — props to you for getting over your bulimia. It can be pretty intractable, as I’m sure you know, and it can leave physical and emotional scars that are hard and sometimes impossible to heal. So yay you.

While it’s true that bulimics can get good at gagging, I haven’t found anything to support the idea that they train their gag reflexes into overactivity under normal circumstances once normal circumstances resume, as yours have (and so again, yay you). Quite the opposite, actually: "loss of gag reflex" shows up on most of the symptom lists I’ve found in the literature, and that is some extensive literature, let me tell you. So I think what we have here is in fact your normal gag reflex reasserting itself. Isn’t that nice?

OK, not really. I get that. But a normal response means you can take normal, even simple measures, and my usual prescription for gagging downgoers is so simple that I’m always amazed I have to mention it — I don’t remember anyone ever teaching this one to me! — but there ya go. Wrap your hand around the base of his penis. Slide it up if there’s still too much length to take comfortably (unlikely, if you do the math); slide it down to expose the desired length. It’s like those "no sew" curtains from Ikea: just pick the length you want — and you don’t have to iron anything either.

There are exercises out there, but since they’re mostly the poking yourself in the uvula with a tongue depressor sort of thing, I rarely recommend them; in your case it’s expressly contraindicated. There are a lot of people promising good results with hypnosis as well, but frankly, that’s kind of creepy, and besides, the hand thing works perfectly, so why bother? I do think you can do a little deep breathing and imagine your throat muscles hanging out on a lovely tropical beach listening to calypso tunes and all that, and I do think it helps, but I don’t think you have to do anything more complicated or programmatic than that.

You may also find that after you’ve had enough gag-free, thoroughly (and mutually) pleasant experiences with this, you’ll simply gag less because you’re expecting to gag less. If not, though, hand trick!



Dear Andrea:

In a previous column [3/12/03] you established that it’s safe to ejaculate inside a woman when she’s on the pill. My question is, what should be done then? Does she need to clean it out or can she just leave it in there? If the former, how would you clean it? And if the latter, wouldn’t it drip? It all seems awfully inconvenient either way.



Dear Con:

Oh, bless your heart. Whatever made you think it was supposed to be convenient? Nature is not convenient; she is messy and kind of a bitch, as has often been noted, often enough by me. Here in the column, for instance, I have covered not only duck rape and homosexual duck rape but also homosexual necrophiliac duck rape. Twice. Which reminds me that I never linked to the articles about how female ducks have begun evolving baroquely twisty and turny oviducts to confound the males (properly drakes, I guess) who have been evolving complexly twisted, outrageously outsize phalli that look like they might have been designed by Antoni Gaudí.

From World Science Net (

"[Study lead author Patricia] Brennan hypothesizes that the female waterfowl have evolved these anatomical features to block male attempts at reproductive control. ‘Despite the fact that most waterfowl form monogamous pairs, forced copulations by other males … are common,’ said [coathor Richard] Prum. ‘In response to male attempts to force their paternity on females, female waterfowl may be able to assert their own behavioral and anatomical means of controlling who fathers their offspring.’"

I mean, how cool is that? I wish I’d known about it back when I was doing feminist street theater, because how great would those costumes have been?

Um, what? We weren’t talking about duck rape but about used-semen drippage? Ugh. No wonder I was so eager to veer off topic. As quickly as possible. No, please don’t "clean it out." Yes, it drips. No, nothing bad happens, and nobody’s the wiser — unless you rush straight from bed to nude yoga class, so I advise against that.



Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don’t do that. Just ask her a question.