Oral Sex: Everything You Need To Know About Giving (and Receiving) Head
Giving head, eating out, tossing the salad - whatever you call cunnilingus, fellatio and anilingus, one thing's for sure: oral sex is an unbelievably satisfying, intimate act.
Unsurprisingly, people have been doing it since the year dot. In the city of Pompeii, which was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, erotic frescoes depict people doing it, while the Kama Sutra suggests some tricky tongue fun positions.
And the Victorians were a pretty creative bunch when it came to describing oral – from "prick eating", to "minetting" and "eating seafood".
But despite the fact it's been around for years, even the most enthusiastic "lick-spigot" probably has a few questions and hang-ups about oral sex.
So, we thought we'd put all our tips together to bring you one big guide!
What is oral sex?
Oral sex is, as its name suggests, stimulating the genitals or anus using your mouth, lips or tongue.
This could involve kissing, sucking or licking their penis (fellatio), vagina, vulva or clitoris (cunnilingus), or anus (anilingus).
How do you give oral sex to someone with a clitoris?
Being the sensitive bundle of nerve endings that it is, the clitoris is obviously going to be the main focus of your oral endeavours. And though it's not the only place to explore, it's a good place to start!
Just like with any kind of sexual stimulation, what works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for someone else.
Pay close attention to your partner's responses and you should find the right techniques to send them over the edge.
Techniques and tips:
When most people talk about the clitoris, they're usually referring to the visible glans. In fact, only a very small amount of this sex organ is actually exposed, and research suggests that the clitoris – and clitoral nerves – actually extends to the anterior wall of the vagina.
When you start out, launching straight into a rhythmic tongue workout can be too much. Many people like to be teased with the promise of clitoral pleasure, and being brought to the point where they're nearly (or actually) begging for that direct stimulation. Spend time lightly kissing their thighs, breathing on them, attending to everywhere but their clitoral glans. This will get them so worked up that whatever you do when you finally get to the clitoris is likely to have explosive results.
Begin by using the tip of your tongue to trace circles on the clitoral hood or glans, then increase the speed and/or pressure depending on your partner's reactions.
Many people find direct stimulation of the clitoral glans too intense, especially to begin with. If that's the case, instead of pulling the clitoral hood up to expose the glans, you can stimulate the glans through the hood instead, working up to direct contact if they're into it. Some people enjoy receiving oral through their underwear to begin with, as this creates an even bigger build-up.
You can also use the flat part of the end of your tongue to gently lick the length of the clitoris.
The clitoral nerves reach into the inner labia, so don't neglect this ultra-sentive area.
A little suction can feel incredible. Close your lips over their clitoris and lightly suck, moving your head ever so slightly from side to side.
Some people enjoy penetration at the same time as oral, so insert a finger (or two) and slide them in and out in time with your licks, or hook your fingers up towards their belly button and rock them slightly for super satisfying G-spot pressure. This dual stimulation can feel amazing, and may lead to an intense blended orgasm. And don't be afraid to involve a toy (see below).
Once they're clearly enjoying what you're doing (again, don't be afraid to ask if they're not being that vocal) and you've worked up to a rhythm that's clearly working for them, consistency is everything.
If they're telling you to keep going, keep going. Keep paying attention to those reactions, and if they're telling you they're close to orgasm do not stop what you're doing.
What about positions?
Most people tend to prefer lying down, with their partner between their thighs, but there are plenty of other options.
Try oral with your partner sitting in a chair, with their legs spread. You can then kneel in front of them, hands on their thighs, and they can rest their leg on your back to control your movements.
Try face-sitting. The key to this position is not for the receiver to actually sit down on their partner's face, but to kneel, straddling their head and hovering a couple of inches from their face.
Doggy can be a great position for cunnilingus, as it treats the giver to an amazing view and access to your whole intimate area. It's also a great way to involve rimming (see below), if that's what you're both into (but never go from butt to vagina, obvs).
And obviously, there's always the good ol' 69, if you can receive while you give and not lose momentum!
How do you give oral sex to someone with a penis?
Just like oral sex involving a clitoris, performing oral sex on a penis is about a lot more than seeing how much of their shaft you can fit in your mouth.
And despite what we see in porn, not all people with penises just want to be deep-throated.
You might have a fail-safe routine up your sleeve, but don't be disheartened if your moves don't have the same effect on a new partner – what works for one penis won't necessarily blow someone else's mind (or load).
There are a few techniques that work for most people, but paying attention to your partner's reactions is important, too.
Techniques and tips:
Include the length of the shaft, the testicles and the perineum (the area of skin between the balls and anus), as well as the frenulum (the thin piece of skin between the head and shaft of the penis), the meatus (the urethral opening) and the head of the penis.
Build anticipation by licking the shaft of the penis from the base to the tip, using the flat of your tongue (think long, lingering ice cream licks).
Lick the ultra-sensitive tip of the penis – the underside of the glans is usually the most sensitive bit, so focus your attention here.
Circle the meatus with your tongue and run your lips back and forward over the frenulum to heighten sensitivity.
Use your hands and fingers to cradle the testicles, gently massage the perineum, and massage the lower shaft while you lick and suck the penis.
Holding the shaft with both hands, swirl your tongue around the head of his penis, alternating direction, pressure and speed.
You don't need to deep-throat (see below) to deliver intense sensations – take the penis into your mouth at an angle and press it against the inside of your cheek to create depth.
Make an 'O' shape with your mouth, so that your lips apply firm pressure to the entire length of the penis as you move your head up and down.
Lots of people love ball play, so – if you're both game – take them in your mouth, very gently licking and sucking them.
Despite what you see in porn, not all people with penises are obsessed with being deep throated. If it's not comfortable for you or you just don't want to do it, don't feel under any pressure. If deep throating is something you want to try, there are techniques to make it more comfortable for you.
If you do want to try deep-throating, gagging can rarely be avoided without a little practice. Alternate between taking the penis as deeply as you can, then licking, sucking and kissing. If you feel comfortable, go a little deeper. As your airway is going to be restricted, you'll need to breathe through your nose, then try to exhale as you guide his penis back into your mouth.
While lots of people enjoy being submissive, for many force takes the fun out of the situation. It's incredibly important for the giver to go at their own pace, and if that means working up to deep throating slowly, so be it.
If you can't, or don't want to, deep throat, but you do want to create the illusion of depth, you can always use a combination of hands and mouth. Grip the base of the penis with one hand, then move the other up and down, just below your lips, so it acts as an extension of your mouth. Use plenty of water-based lube for a fellatio-like feel.
What about positions?
Kneeling in front of your partner while they stand is a mainstay in porn, but there are plenty of other positions that give you great access and control over your partner's peen. If you are on your knees, spend time kissing their thighs first, keeping eye contact and building anticipation.
Lie on your back and let them lower their penis into your mouth – that way they have control over the depth and speed. This is a great position if you're a fan of power play, but it's important to make sure you're both comfortable with what's happening. If you're the one recieving, check in with your partner – especially if you're going deep – and establish a safe signal, like a double tap on a thigh, as you won't necessarily be able to easily speak.
Have your partner lie down on the bed, then straddle one of their thighs – you could even cover both your bodies in massage oil, which will help your movements to become more fluid (plus it'll feel amazing for you, too).
And as we mentioned above, there's always the 69.
How do you rim someone?
Rimming, or anilingus, involves licking, penetrating with the tongue, sucking, kissing... really anything you do with your mouth to someone's butt.
Some people don't mind natural sweat and smells (some people even like it) but because of your bum's day job, a little bit of prep might make you and your partner more relaxed. If that's the case, just have a bath or shower first. You can make this more fun by showering together, making the prep part of foreplay.
If you want a more thorough clean, you can use an anal douche, but make sure you expel the water before you start, or your partner might end up with more of a mouthful than they bargained for.
Now, we're not going to tell you what to do with your pubic hair. Everyone's got it, and it's up to personal choice whether you leave it where it is or not. Obviously, though, if you or your partner are particularly hairy back there, it's going to be easier to access everything if you do a little hair removal first.
Now you're all squeaky clean and ready to go, here's everything you need to know about rimming.
Techniques and tips:
When it comes to what you do, there really are no rules – anything agreed to by your partner goes.
Drizzling the receiver's anus with your favourite flavoured lube makes the area taste delicious, and can help if you're feeling nervous about how you might taste. It also helps your lips and tongue to slide over sensitive areas, making your movements more fluid.
Like with all sexy fun, sometimes the journey is just as exciting as the destination. Work your way in towards the target, massaging, squeezing, licking and kissing their bum cheeks, inner thighs and perineum, touching everywhere but the area you're aiming for to build tension.
Just before you make contact with their actual anus, use your breath as a final tease before your tongue or lips make contact.
Obviously you'll need to part their cheeks a little with your hands, but be gentle – it's a sensitive area!
Just like with other types of oral stimulation, everyone is different. Experiment with different movements and levels of pressure, and using different parts of your tongue. Remember to pay attention to your partner's body language and vocal responses, and check in with them to make sure they're enjoying what you're doing.
Some people love firm licks with the flat of the tongue (think ice cream lick), and others like the delicate feeling of just the tip circling around the opening.
Although you're working with a penetrable hole, rimming is traditionally just an external method of play. That doesn't mean you can't delve a little deeper, though. If you've discussed penetration with your partner and you're both on board, you could try poking your tongue an inch or so into the opening (that's where the sensitive nerve endings are).
Playing with more than one erogenous zones at once can mean twice the pleasure. While your mouth is busy, your hands are free to roam, so use them to stimulate your partner's nipples, clitoris or penis at the same time. Or, you could encourage them to play with themselves, either with their fingers or using a sex toy.
And remember, don't go straight from someone's bum to their vagina/penis/mouth. If you want to do that, use a barrier method.
What about positions?
You'll need the reciever to be in a position that gives you good access to the area. The obvious option is them on all fours, with you kneeling behind them.
You can also ask them to lie on their back, with a cushion under the bum to give you a better angle, or face-sitting (see above).
69ing also works well for rimming, or the receiver can kneel on a sofa, while the giver sits or kneels on the floor.
Best Toys and Accessories for Oral Sex
Drizzle a generous helping of flavoured lube on those sweet spots for lip-smacking oral action.
Create a deep-throat feeling by adding this mini stroker to the mix when you're giving head.
For safer, tastier oral, try a condom covered in cola, bubblegum or chocolate-flavoured lube.
Want to add a buzz to your blowie (or any other kind of oral fun)? Slip this mini finger ring on a digit.
Take your oral skills to the next level by slipping this inside your partner's vagina when you go down on her.
Add a touch of bondage to your oral adventures with this super-sexy spreader bar.
5 Oral Sex Worries... And How to Banish Them
1. Help, I can't relax!
You're much more likely to enjoy receiving oral if you're relaxed. If you find it really hard to switch off, close your eyes or slip on a blindfold. Removing your sight from the equation can help you to lose your inhibitions, so you can focus on enjoying your partner's oral skills rather than getting distracted.
2. Am I clean?
Nobody's vagina or penis smells like freshly laundered linen or roses – everyone has a natural smell and taste. If niggling thoughts like this are holding you back from enjoying oral, just shower before your partner goes down there.
3. What do I taste like?
Again, it's unlikely you taste like your partner's favourite ice cream flavour. Whether or not you can change the way you taste is up for debate. Prostate fluid found in semen can be made weeks or even months before, so you can see how tricky it is to tell if what you're eating has actually had any effect. There is fairly consistent advice about the things you should eat (pineapple, cinnamon, peppermint) and avoid (broccoli, caffeine, spicy food), but the best thing to do is experiment with your partner.
4. Do I tell them what to do, or let them do their thing?
Shouting a set of instructions might be off-putting (unless it's a turn-on for you both), but gentle encouragement is great for the person giving, as it lets them know when they're hitting the right spots.
Make the right noises, gently (gently!) move their head, tell them what feels good. If something they're doing doesn't feel right, or you want them to stop, the only way they'll know is if you communicate that, so be vocal and ask for what you want.
Talking about what you like outside of a sexy scenario (like when you're lying in bed chatting) can be helpful for both of you, too. If something isn't working for you, try to be encouraging rather than critical – phrases like "I really love it when you..." and "It turned me on so much when you [insert sexy thing here]" can be really good conversation starters.
5. I don't like giving/getting oral sex... Am I weird?
Nope. Everyone has their sexual preferences, and some people just aren't into it – that's totally fine.
If it's that you don't have much experience and you're not confident about your oral expertise, then just giving it a go with a patient, encouraging partner will improve your confidence.
If it's that you feel self conscious about the way you look, taste or smell, it might be worth exploring how to lose those hang-ups with the help of a supportive partner.
If you've had a bad experience with a previous partner, remember that not everyone is the same – you might be missing out on an intimate act with a partner who respects and values your pleasure.
How to Have Healthy, Happy Oral Sex
Now obviously we don't want to put you off oral sex (I mean, it's pretty awesome!), but there are a few precautions you and your partner can take in order to make sure everyone is safe and having a great time.
1. Wrap it up
The only way to be completely protected from transmitting or contracting an STI is to have regular sexual health screenings, and to always use a barrier contraceptive with new sex partners.
Barrier contraceptives (male and female condoms and dental dams) are a type of prophylactic that prevent skin-on-skin contact and the transferal of bodily fluids.
2. Get tested
Obviously, if you and your partner know you're STD free, you can go ahead and have all the oral fun.
But since some STDs are symptomless, you'll need to take a test at your GP or local sexual health clinic.
Because you can get some STDs in your throat, ask them for a mouth swab as well as a genital swab, and a rectal swab if you think you need one (if you've had anal sex, or if rimming is part of your sexual repertoire).
3. Won't a barrier method reduce sensation?
If the receiver is worried about reduced sensation with a condom or dam, make it your mission to get them so turned on they won't notice it.
For those of you who are turned off by the idea of a dental dam or condom, your best bet is to know your sexual health status and to share it with your partner.
Solo Oral Sex
Who needs a partner anyway? These toys can help you enjoy oral sex-like sensations all by yourself!
If you have a clitoris...
This sleek, intuitive stimulator feels like someone gently suckling on your clitoris – and it is AMAZING.
Slip this tongue-like vibe on a finger to send 7 powerful speeds and patterns straight to its quivering tip.
A rotating wheel of silicone 'tongues' and 6 speeds and patterns lick your clitoris into an orgasmic frenzy.
If you have a penis...
The unique texture inside this sleeve feels just like a tongue on your erection, especially with lots of lube!
Pre-lubricated, with an air hole to augment sucking sensations, and rows of soft, tantalising tendrils.
Plunge past lifelike lips to find realistic throat ridges, a flexible tongue and smooth, teasing teeth.
And because everyone has a bum...
The vibrating base and rotating neck mimic the sensations of rimming, and it's remote-control operated so no fumbling with buttons back there!
Not one, but two tantalising tongues, for double the derrière (or anywhere) fun, with 6 vibration patterns and 6 intensity levels.
This 10-function silicone stimulator has a rotating pleasure nub that feels just like a tongue relentlessly working away at your tush.