The pleasure of oral sex is, for many people, one of the joys of being human. As a sex educator and coach, you might say I’m on a mission to let everyone know that cunnilingus is fabulous to give and to receive. Might I remind you that the clitoris—the rosebud-like bump at the top of the vulva—is extraordinarily sensitive?
But due perhaps to social and cultural baggage regarding talking openly about vaginas and pleasure, there is so much conflicting advice out there on how to do it “right.” I’m often asked for oral sex tips, and the truth is that there’s really no such thing as right for every person receiving or giving oral sex. Because not everything works the same way for every person with a vulva, my job can be rather difficult. So, to get some nitty gritty, down-to-earth assistance, I asked 15 people with vaginas for their best oral sex advice. Of course these are the tips, tricks, and preferences of 15 specific people. They’re not meant to be taken as directives, but rather as examples of the breadth, depth, and diversity of preferences and desires. And by the way, when you’re figuring out how to make oral sex awesome, be sure to take into account the desires not only of the receiver, but of the giver. Everyone involved deserves to have exactly the experience they want.
May this inspire you and your partners to have amazing oral sex!
1. Trusting your partner is essential.
This part of your body can feel especially intimate, so you have to feel safe with your partner(s) even in casual situations.
“You can’t have good oral sex without trust,” says Catherine*, 24, from Chicago. “Even if it’s just a hookup thing, I need to know you’re a person who will respect what I want and don’t want. It’s about communication and being open about [desires] so that you can be in the moment.”
Letting go of inhibitions and focusing on what feels good to you can bring you amazing pleasure. Laurel, 41, from Los Angeles says that the best oral sex of her life was with a man who made her feel like she could be completely present and laid bare—in the best way. “To be in someone’s mouth, to let them please you, and to be completely selfish in that moment is simultaneously empowering and vulnerable,” she says.
2. Lead up to oral sex with foreplay.
Warming up before any kind of sexual activity is a must for many people. Dating and sex advice often warn that without proper foreplay to get the vagina wet, penetration can be uncomfortable or painful. This is definitely true, but oral sex isn’t just foreplay itself—it can require foreplay as well.
Foreplay before oral sex can also help establish the essential trust before an act that is extremely intimate for some people. “Great sex is a beautiful dance that requires coordination, timing, and responsiveness,” Laura, 38, from Detroit notes.
Gabrielle, 28, from Wisconsin stresses the importance of warming up so that oral sex doesn’t feel perfunctory or like ticking an item off a checklist. “When it’s led up to—instead of jumped into—it really changes the whole experience for me,” she says.
3. Listen to your partner’s unique, individual body.
Not every person enjoys oral sex the same way. Remember, the clitoral network is complex. Some only want external clitoral stimulation, while others want a combination of external and internal stimulation. (And some, of course, may want no external clitoral stimulation at all.)
Mal, 35, from New York says that for them, the best oral sex is when “someone who’s really into doing it listens to my body rather than trying to show off a bunch of tricks and tongue techniques! It’s about me receiving pleasure, not about him showing off what he thinks he knows from having been with other [partners]. We’re all different, we vulva owners, so having a partner who knows how to listen to our bodily communication is key.”
There is no limit to the variations in what we enjoy. This is why figuring out what works for the specific person you’re with is so important. If you think oral sex is a “one-tongue-fits-all” situation, you’ll be disappointed (and so will your partner).
Melissa, 25, from Brooklyn says that you can often find a specific spot on the clitoris that will send your partner into another pleasure dimension. She explains that as a bisexual woman who both gives and receives oral sex, she has found this to be true time and again. “For me it’s at 6 o’clock—imagine the external clitoris is a clock: The hood is 12 and below the little nub is 6,” she explains. “Take some time to figure out the direction, speed and location that make the legs twitch. If you hit my 6 o’clock I will literally melt into a puddle of orgasms.”
4. Try going slow.
“Don’t just go right in and go hard on my clit,” says Melanie*, 29, from New York. “Take me on a journey. I like it when there is buildup and I’m left begging for it.”
Michelle*, 33, from Dallas recalls her most memorable oral sex experiences were with a guy who made it clear these particular liaisons were about her pleasure. “He went down on me several times and that was the only goal of the sessions!” she says. “I didn’t feel the pressure to get off quickly, which also made me feel comfortable.”
For many people, going straight to licking or touching the clitoris can be overwhelming, and can even be a bit painful from the stimulation. (This isn’t true for all clits, but it is something to keep in mind.) Try kissing and nibbling the thighs. Try massaging the mons pubic with your palm. Run your tongue lightly along the labia. Lick all around the area before putting your tongue on clitoris. Right before you move in for full-on oral, blow on the clitoris—it will light up nerve endings galore!
“I absolutely need clitoral stimulation for oral sex, but it has to start out slow and gentle before building to a more powerful suction or stimulation with a tongue,” says Kayla, 38, from Florida. “Come at my clit like you’re mad at it, and I’ll pull away and won’t get off.”
5. This might sound obvious, but it’s all about licking and suckling.
After building someone up to all that amazing oral sex action, the clitoris is a great place to focus the attention. Kayla recommends that you “coax it with gentle licks and sucks, and let the first orgasm build slowly.”
Krista, 49, from Ontario, agrees that “clitoral licking and suckling is a must.”
Britt, 27, from Chicago, is even more emphatic. “There is no way I’m getting off without special attention to my clitoris,” she says. “I enjoy lots of things during oral sex, but if I had to choose one thing: STAY ON MY CLITORIS AND JUST LICK IT.”
And if something is getting a positive response, there is nothing wrong with sticking to it. “I like when my partner does little circles around my clitoris,” says Grace*, 30, from Illinois. “It’s just this one motion, really slowly and consistently, until I come. It feels amazing and the orgasms are surprisingly powerful, I always think I might not get off (because it’s so slow), but then I always, always do. It’s kind of magical, to be honest.”
6. Focus on your partner’s whole body and energy.
Although you’re busy with your tongue, try to pay attention to the person receiving oral sex so you can allow them to set the rhythm. Laura says this attention to detail is what led to one of her best oral sex experiences. “As I began to react, his pace quickened,” she recalls. “He allowed me to set the pace, rather than trying to force it. And when I finally did orgasm, it was a full-body experience.”
While verbalizing enjoyment and consent is imperative, paying attention to a partner’s body language is key, too. If your partner is leaning their hips into your face, moaning and asking for more, then you’re on the right track. If your partner is pushing your head away from the vulva, or closing their legs together tightly, stop what you’re doing and do a check-in on how they’re feeling. Even though you’re the one giving, the receiver is the one in control.
7. Get permission before biting. Seriously.
We’re talking about a very sensitive part of the body. For some people, even a tongue can be overly stimulating. That means that you should not be biting or nipping a clitoris unless your partner has expressly requested that you do so. The clitoris is so sensitive that the lightest of touches goes a long way. For example, when describing the best oral sex she has ever had, Laura explains something that many of us have experienced: “There was no biting, no furious motions, no hard rubbing.”
If your partner happens to be into clit biting, well, you might just get the green light to introduce your chompers! But in short: Without a verbalized invitation, keep your teeth to yourself when it comes to oral.
8. Once you get comfortable with each other’s bodies, consider introducing some new moves.
While consistency is a safe bet for newer partners, it can be super sexy to try new things together. Variety, after all, is the spice of life. “I like when a dude keeps it fresh,” says Dana*, 28, from Philadelphia. “Change it up with different movements, try toys, put things inside me. Obviously ask if I’m okay with it, but I think the best orgasms come with variety.”
For example, Dana points to a time her partner tied her up and inserted a vibrator while he was simultaneously licking her clit. “There was all this weight pulling my body downwards, combined with vibration,” she recalls. “I came so hard I almost fainted.”
In addition to external clit stimulation, when you know each other’s bodies better you can try adding in some internal stimulation if your partner is down for that. “External licking and sucking [of the clit], combined with digital penetration, two fingers inserted, with pressure on the first inch of my top vaginal wall using a pulling motion [is] amazing,” says Jana, 33, from Milwaukee. While the main focus should be the clitoris, some people with clits enjoy internal stimulation in tandem. Always ask.
Variety comes in many different forms. “[I] love it when he reaches up for my breast or he has a firm grip on my hips,” says Betty*, 28, from Florida. “I like it when he looks up at me with confidence knowing he is making me squirt.” Keep communicating with each other and find out what feels best.
9. Try different positions.
While lying on your back is a glorious way to be served, there are lots of different positions you can try for variations on oral sex. And if you or your partner have limited mobility, there are plenty of options to make oral sex work for you. (Check out this guide for some specific ideas.)
Kayla suggests face-sitting. While she admits that she was nervous about “suffocating” her partner the first time, it turned out to be one of the most fantastic experiences she’s ever had. “I coated his face, his beard, and the pillow under his head,” she says. “When I heard a muffled, ‘Don’t move! I love it!’ I felt much better about it.”
You can also try lying on your side, your partner astride for a sideways 69 position. “I like when I’m on my side because that way I can give my partner oral sex as well,” Melanie says. “Or, you know, just lie there and enjoy the view.”
10. Enthusiasm is everything.
Our cultural scripts about oral pleasure are often focused on the penis. We also get messages that receiving oral sex when you have a vagina is somehow more labor-intensive: It’s something you should be grateful for, and you shouldn’t take too long (whatever that means).
Therefore, it is incredibly important that you make your partner feel sexy and wanted while assuring them of your own enjoyment. “Enthusiasm is so vital for me,” says Britt. “I need someone to let me know they want to be at this party and willingly RSVP’d.”
The ideal oral sex giver? “Confident,” “enthusiastic,” “really, really wants to do it,” and “wants to keep doing it until I’m happy,” adds Mal.
Sounds good to me.