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Secrets of Loving Cunnilingus

A man's guide to giving the gift of oral sex.

The myth is that men don’t enjoy providing women with oral sex. Actually, many (most?) love it. For many men, this special gift feels deeply intimate and very satisfying. In addition, women are much more likely to have orgasms from oral than intercourse. Cunnilingus is not difficult, but some men are unschooled in the fine points. Here’s how to boost her pleasure and your self-confidence.

“Cunnilingus” comes from the Latin cunnus for vulva, women’s external genitalia, and lingere, to lick. Cunnilingus is popular but less so than many people believe. According to a recent survey by researchers at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, 75 percent of adult women have received it at least once, with 60 percent of those age 21 to 49 saying they’ve received it during the past year, and 33 percent of women over 50. 

Hygiene

Many women feel self-conscious about the aroma and taste of their genitals, and spend $150 million a year on douches. Gynecologists deride douching as hygienically unnecessary. Natural cervical mucus keeps the vagina clean, and washing with soap and water keeps the vulva clean and tasting like the mouth during deep kissing.

“If women think their genitals look, smell, or taste unattractive,” says Palo Alto, California, sex therapist Marty Klein, Ph.D., “it’s difficult for men to persuade them otherwise. But I encourage men to say: ‘I love how you look.’ ‘I love how you taste.’ Everyone likes compliments, and over time, she might change her mind.”

Basics

The vulva includes:

• The outer and inner vaginal lips.

• The clitoris, nestled under the upper junction of the vaginal lips.

• The vaginal opening.

• And the erotically sensitive groove between the clitoris and vagina, the urethral sponge.

Basic cunnilingus involves licking the vulva from the vaginal opening, across the sponge, and up to the clitoris, and possibly inserting the tongue into the vagina. As women become sexually aroused, their outer vaginal lips fill with extra blood, which parts them somewhat, exposing the inner lips and the sensitive tissue between them.

Tell a new lover that you’d like to go down on her. Either say so verbally, or slowly work your way down, kissing her neck, breasts, and belly, so she knows where you’re headed. Remember, not every woman enjoys receiving oral. Check in, saying something like, “I’d like to keep going down. Is that okay?” Move slowly.

Make sure you both feel comfortable. Lying prone between the woman’s legs might strain your neck or back. You might slip a pillow under her hips to raise her vulva. Or coax her to the side of the bed and kneel on the floor.

The tongue is much softer than fingers, so it can provide gentler stimulation. “For many women,” explains Fair Oaks, California, sex therapist Louanne Weston, Ph.D., “the gentleness of oral sex is key to its enjoyment.”

Begin slowly—and as gently as you can. Start by kissing her inner thighs and the area around her vulva. Anticipation of cunnilingus can feel very arousing. Then lick the fleshy outer lips. Next, work your tongue in between the outer lips to caress the inner lips. Then circle the vaginal opening and perhaps insert your tongue inside. Eventually move up to the clitoris.

Check in. Ask how she likes to be licked. After beginning very gently, many women enjoy slowly incrasing intensity as they become more aroused and approach orgasm. Others feel differently. Keep checking in until you're confident that you know what she likes. Then continue to check in periodically. She might want a change.

Approach the clitoris particularly slowly and gently. Some women enjoy a man’s tongue directly on the little nub. Others find direct clitoral licking too intense, even off-putting. If so, lick around the clit but not on it.

Some women feel reluctant to discuss their reactions to oral sex. Instead they use body language. They might squirm if they find a certain lick uncomfortable. Unfortunately, many men don’t realize that she’s writhing in discomfort, thinking she’s actually in the throes of delight. That’s why it’s important to check in verbally: “Is this okay?” “Is this too intense?”

Fine Points

• Alternate using the tip of your tongue, the flat of it, and your lips as you explore her vulva. All three feel a little different and provide subtly different sensations. Check in about each.

• Combine licking with finger and palm massage. After circling her vulva with your tongue, do the same with a finger or two, using light, moderate, or deep pressure, as the woman prefers. Use your fingers to gently part her lips, and if she’s okay with it, insert one or two. Massage her inner thighs. 

• Combine cunnilingus with whole body massage. Some women enjoy having their legs, arms, and/or breasts caressed while receiving oral. Try slipping a finger or two into her mouth so she can suck them while you’re licking her. Or combine oral sex with any sex toy(s) the woman enjoys.

• Instead of steady tongue pressure on the clitoris or swirling moves around it, use the tip of your tongue to tease just the underside of the clitoral shaft with light little licks about once every 10 to 15 seconds. This move helps some women get over the hump to orgasm.

• Something else affects many women’s enjoyment of cunnilingus—her lover’s enthusiasm for it. “Few things detract from a woman’s enjoyment of oral sex,” Weston explains, “as much as the suspicion that her lover considers it a duty or, worse, a chore.” If you enjoy providing cunnilingus, by all means, say so—and show it.

Female Ejaculation

Some women ejaculate, that is, they produce fluid on orgasm. If this happens during oral sex, many women feel concerned about “squirting” in the man’s face. Some men enjoy this, others don't. Discuss your feelings. There’s no right or wrong, just personal preferences. If she ejaculates, and you have a problem with it, pull back from oral as she approaches orgasm and help her the rest of the way with your hand. (Female ejaculate is a combination of dilute urine and fluid produced by the glands around the vulva. It's similar to prostate fluid.)

After orgasm, many women experience unusual clitoral sensitivity and don’t like to be touched or licked there. This is normal. If you like “last licks” after she comes, check in about this. If she’d rather not be licked after orgasm, come up from between her legs and hold her tenderly until she returns to earth.

Next time: Keys to Fabulous Fellatio

Herbenick, D. et al. “Sexual Behavior in the United States: Results from a National Probability Sample of Men and Women Ages 14-94,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2010) 7(Suppl 5):255.

 

San Francisco journalist Michael Castleman, M.A., has written about sexuality for 36 years. more...

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