You’re in bed with your boo and everything’s going great. You’re all ready to ramp up the foreplay with some oral, but when you come face-to-face with that peen, a whisper of insecurity hits you: Am I any good at this?

Fortunately, an important truth that comes with a blow job is that (as long as both people have given enthusiastic consent) the mouth + penis is a recipe for pleasure: It’s pretty hard to suck at it (as long as you suck on it).

That’s because the penis — especially the head — is covered in nerve endings. It’s super responsive to sensation, especially when there’s lots of lubrication.

The natural wetness in the mouth, along with the variety of textures created by the tongue and lips, makes a really dynamic set of tools for stimulation.

Our first bit of advice is to make sure, beforehand, that the other person is into it.

We agree oral sex feels amazing and is a super common thing to do in bed — a 2018 analysis found that more than 75 percent of people surveyed had given or received oral sex before.Habel MA, et al. (2018). Heterosexual anal and oral sex in adolescents and adults in the United States, 2011–2015. DOI: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000889 But assuming what another person is into, sexually or otherwise, can be presumptuous, particularly with new partners.

Yeah, asking might be awkward. But unless you’ve chatted beforehand about past sexual likes and dislikes, being direct is how you gauge whether someone is ready for it.

You can ask in a sexy way, like, “I really want to taste your dick right now. Can I?” or “Is getting sucked off something you’re into?”

Or not. For some of us, trying to sound sexy is a sure way to sound even more awkward.

Orgasms are great, but pleasure isn’t dependent on one happening. So don’t go in with a goal of making the Big O happen. Not all blow jobs will, or should, end in orgasm.

Plus, if you’re giving a blow job during foreplay to build the excitement, you both might want to prolong the fun by not finishing right away.

It all comes down to what you both want in the moment.

What you’ll see

One of the realities of oral sex is that your eyes (and nose) are very close to, well, the show. This can be thrilling or, maybe, a bit overwhelming. But be prepared to get up close and really personal with your partner’s penis.

Each penis has its own unique style. Some bend a little to the left, some to the right. Some are long and narrow, others short and round. Some are circumcised and some aren’t (research suggests as many as 80 percent of folks with penises in the United States are circumcised).Morris BJ, et al. (2014). Circumcision rates in the United States: Rising or falling? What effect might the new affirmative pediatric policy statement have? DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.01.001

An uncircumcised penis still has its foreskin, the bit of skin that covers the head of the penis.

These two, um, genres of penis look a little different, but whether a penis is circumcised or not doesn’t change much for you.

The same is true of pubic hair. Some people choose to keep their hair fully shaved, while others like it grown out, but that personal choice doesn’t change the mechanics of giving a blow job.

What you’ll smell

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, bodies have smells. Groins, in particular, have smells because there are more sweat glands down there.

Everyone’s scent is different, and everyone’s scent changes a little from day to day. It might be sharp like an onion or subtly reminiscent of cannabis.

You may be surprised to find you love your partner’s musk. Or maybe not so much. If it’s overwhelming in a bad way, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking them to jump in the shower.

STIs and oral sex

Many STIs can be transmitted through oral sex — even HIV, although the odds are slim. Ask your partner beforehand if they have any STIs and when they got tested last.

The safest route when giving a blow job is to use a condom. Want to spice things up? Use a flavored condom. Banana for their banana? Yes, please!

It’s also a good idea to visually check out a person’s bits before any sexual encounter, especially if you’re not super familiar with one another. This doesn’t have to be exam-like, but don’t be shy about using your eyes to look for bumps or sores.

Take it slow

When it comes to sex, the body is like an engine — it doesn’t heat up immediately. Foreplay is all the work you do to get that engine going.

The time you spend building excitement in the beginning will pay off with more intensity later. The same goes for blow jobs.

Try starting out with a deep, passionate makeout sesh. If you like talking dirty, do it to get the blood flowing. Don’t be in a hurry to lose the clothes. It can be super hot to grind up against each other’s love bits with clothes still on.

Treat the experience like a road trip. The hours you spend listening to the radio and all the sites you stop at along the way are what makes it fulfilling and memorable.

Learn how to use what your mama gave you to make their pleasure ah-mazing.

What do I do with my lips?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to use lips on a penis. Pretty much any way is going to feel wonderful.

Wrap your lips over your teeth to get a firmer rim to slide along the shaft. Or keep them puckered and squishy.

What do I do with my tongue?

Your tongue is a versatile tool for blow jobs. You can make it firm and rigid to apply direct pressure with the tip or keep it soft to use the whole surface to stimulate.

Hold the shaft of the penis with one hand and use the very tip of your tongue to lightly lick the head. Make slow circles or light taps around the circumference. Or use it to stroke the frenulum, an extra-sensitive area on the bottom side of the head of the penis.

To make sure your tongue can carry its weight in bed, give it a workout beforehand with tongue push-ups and pull-backs. No gym required.

Do I have to deep throat?

Some people love the feeling of having a penis deep inside their mouth and touching their throat. Others, not so much.

The ideal BJ depth is the depth that’s most comfortable for you. Go only as deep as you want (and can handle without gagging). You can still deliver an earth-shattering orgasm without going all the way in.

Try holding the penis about an inch below the head while you wrap your lips around the top of it. Then, using plenty of saliva, gently suck and lick the head of the penis.

What do I do with my hands?

The mouth may be the star of the blow job show, but the hands play important supporting roles. Like you hold an ice cream cone while you lick, use your hand(s) to hold on to the shaft of the penis and the testicles while using your mouth.

Also bring your hands into the mix to switch up the type of stimulation. And, if your partner is into this, your hands are there to explore other erogenous zones nearby!

What’s the best position?

The ideal position is whatever feels most comfortable — whether that’s on your knees in front of your standing partner, leaning over them while they lie on the bed, or any other variation you can think up.

What if my mouth gets tired?

That’s where your hands come in, well, handy. Give your mouth a rest by applying some sliding action with your magic fingers.

What do I do if there’s foreskin?

Coming face-to-face with that unexpected flap of skin might make you wonder, “What do I do with this thing?” Consider it retractable and just slide it on down to expose the head.

Should we make eye contact?

Some people absolutely love locking eyes during oral. It’s a whole new and intimate (not to mention sexy) way to connect with a partner. But it’s also not for everyone, so don’t feel obligated if it’s not your thing.

Don’t be afraid to skip the eye contact

Eye contact can be intense in an uncomfortable way, especially for the giver. If it’ll make you feel more at ease, avoid eye contact altogether. Plus, depending on the position you’re in, it might not be physically comfortable for your neck.

What rhythm should I follow?

It’s important to get the rhythm right. Too slow and your partner might fall asleep. Too fast and it’ll be over before you’ve even gotten going.

Start slowly and then ramp up the intensity. Keep things interesting by toying with different speeds throughout. And if they seem ready to come, try slowing things down to prolong their pleasure.

How do I avoid gagging?

Nothing will spoil the mood faster than sounding like you’re about to spew. To avoid triggering your gag reflex, relax your throat muscles.

Or just don’t go as far. Most of the sensation is in the tip anyway. Go only as deep as you’re comfortable with, and let your hands do the rest of the heavy lifting.

How can I tell if my partner’s into it?

Unless they’re a big talker during sex, don’t expect to hear a play-by-play. Instead, look for signs like grunting, heavy breathing, or hip thrusting. If you hear/see those, trust us, you’re doing it right.

If you’re insecure about your oral sex skills, go ahead and ask whether it feels good. Chances are you’ll get a big “hell yeah” in response.

The joy of edging

With edging, you stop yourself from finishing when you’re right at the brink of orgasm. After giving yourself a breather, you repeat the process multiple times.

The idea behind edging is that by building up the arousal in this way, the eventual orgasm will be stronger and more satisfying.

This technique can be super exciting during oral. But make sure to ask/tell your partner first. It can be jarring to stop so close to orgasm if they’re not expecting it.

What if I’ve had enough?

If your mouth is sore, give it a rest. Switch to your hands, ask for your turn on the receiving end, or switch over to full-on penetrative sex.

There’s a tendency to get laser-focused on the penis during oral, so here’s our reminder: Stimulate other yummy spots on the body too!

Everyone likes different areas to be caressed, though, so it’s extra important to ask your partner what they like. The body has lots of erogenous zones. Here are a few common ones.

The balls

If you’re trying out ball play, start by gently cupping them in one hand and asking your partner if it feels OK. If they want more, use your fingers to massage the balls and move the sack around in your hands.

Using lube will help you avoid accidentally pinching the skin.

The booty

If they want some butt action, start by using a lubed finger to tease the rim of their butthole.

If they’re craving penetration (and you’re up for it), stick your finger a couple of inches into their anus to find the prostate (BTW, only people assigned male at birth have prostates).

The perineum

The perineum is the area of skin between the ball sack and the anus, and many people love having it touched. Try tickling or pressing this area with your fingers while you’re giving them a blow job.

The inner thighs

The skin on the inner and upper thighs, including right below the booty, can be super sensitive to touch. Try licking this area as a way to tease them. If they’ve expressed an interest in biting, this is a great place to (lightly) use your teeth.

You can read all day about how to give a blow job, but nothing will prepare you like actually watching one (*ahem*) go down. And if you’re a visual learner, this might be the best way to learn.

The internet has no shortage of blow job videos, as they’re a super common type of porn. While you can jump on any old porn site to find one, we recommend paying a little bit for a site that makes ethical, sex-positive porn.

These sites are more likely to pay and treat their employees well, and their content is a lot more inclusive.

Or, for real lips-on experience, take a BJ class online or in person. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Position is crucial for BJs. If you’re in an uncomfortable position as the giver, a blow job can start to feel tedious, which no one wants. And who says you shouldn’t get some pleasure of your own while you’re at it?

There are so many great positions for getting off while you give head. Here are three of our faves.

The Front and Center

This position is best done in bed. As the giver, you lie with your head propped up against pillows while the receiver kneels over you, straddling your upper body and positioning their penis right at mouth level.

This position is great because it frees your hands. You can reach down your body and pleasure yourself while they’re in your mouth. The receiver can also steady themselves against the wall to help maneuver their penis.

69

What’s more fun than one person getting oral? Two people getting oral! 69ing is notoriously polarizing, but those who love it love it.

Receiving pleasure while giving it is like a pleasure feedback loop. And if you’ve ever felt like giving head was a chore, 69ing will make it feel a lot less like work.

The Upside Down

The idea is for the giver to lie on their back with their head at the edge of the mattress (or couch). The receiver stands over them so their penis is at mouth level. At the same time, the receiver uses their hands to pleasure the giver.

This position works best if you have a tallish bed frame. Or you can try it on certain couches.

Often, it’s pretty obvious, and if the receiver is a cis man, they might announce it. Some telltale signs are:

  • quivering thighs
  • shallow, quick breaths
  • tensed muscles
  • throbbing penis

Other times, dialogue can be part of the experience. When you notice body changes, ask. They’ll let you know what’s going down.

Then be prepared for ejaculation. Ejaculate (aka semen, aka cum) is a milky white liquid that dribbles/squirts/shoots out of the head of the penis.

So, as we said earlier, blow jobs don’t always end with the person having an orgasm. But if they do, it’s normal to have questions like Would I like the taste? Should I spit or swallow?

This depends on you.

Semen has a taste that you may or may not enjoy. This taste changes slightly from day to day, depending on lots of factors, and everyone’s semen tastes a little different.

Semen also has a texture. The internet seems to love comparing it to tapioca pudding, so we’ll stick with that. Some people love tapioca pudding, others not so much.

One thing you don’t need to worry about is weight gain. Contrary to what you might have heard, splooge is low in calories.

Can you get pregnant?

The short answer is no. Swallowing semen cannot fertilize an egg. That’s just not how bodies work.

The very, very unlikely scenario in which oral could lead to pregnancy is if someone gets the semen on their fingers and them immediately and deeply fingers the other person’s vagina.

So swallow, spit it into a washcloth or the first piece of dirty laundry within reach, or have them finish somewhere on your body. Anywhere goes. You could also ask your partner what they prefer and give it a try.

But know that there’s no single right way and where it goes is entirely up to you, the person with the penis in their mouth.

P.S.: If choosing your face or upper body, be mindful of your eyes. Semen in the eyes is no fun and could even cause damage.

Again: Get consent. Once you have that, you can start talking specifics. Do they like having their balls fondled? Should you tease their butthole? You’ll never know unless you ask.

Communication doesn’t have to mean sitting down and formally interviewing each other about sexual preferences (although, if this sounds like your idea of a hot date, by all means).

Having open communication means being patient with one another. Put aside any judgment and replace it with openness and curiosity.

Communication might happen in the heat of the moment, or it might happen later, over lattes in the park. But it’s best to start the convo early on to ensure you’re both on the same page.

Also, texting is a totally reasonable option when saying something out loud feels too uncomfortable. And once you broach a convo via text, it might feel easier to talk about in person.

You never have to feel obligated to give a blow job

Blow jobs are a fun, exciting way to give another person pleasure. But you never have to feel obligated to give one. Every sexual experience is a two-way street: Both people should feel comfortable and enthusiastic.

If you’re excited about giving a blow job but nervous about how you’ll perform, remember that it’s likely going to feel good to them no matter what you do.

And as with most things in life, what feels daunting now probably won’t feel daunting forever.