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Giving head. Cunnilingus. Blow job. Slobbing the knob (like corn on the cob). No matter what you call it, oral sex can be a helluva good time. But before the fun begins, you need to ask yourself, “How do I get them off while staying safe?”

Here’s the lowdown on going down.

illustrated girl sucking on a candy suckerShare on Pinterest
Illustration: Brittany England

YES, oral sex is real sex

Think of it this way: Would you tell two female partners their sex life is less valid simply because they don’t have penises? No.

There are all kinds of ways to have sex. Oral is just one of them. Plus, you may get more jollies from oral than from penetration. It all depends on your taste.

And speaking of taste…

A penis that smells like peppermint or a vagina that radiates like a rose isn’t natural. Everyone has their own special fragrance down there, and that’s totally OK. It’s your Eau de [your name here].

If you’re healthy and keep your junk clean, you’ll taste just fine. If you’re a tad insecure (and there’s no shame in that), freshen up beforehand.

That means:

  • Scrub-a-dub-dub before they head south. If you don’t have time for a proper bath or shower, just use soap and water.
  • Carry unscented wipes in case you need to freshen up in a hurry.
  • Ketchup and butterscotch are both delicious, but you wouldn’t want to eat them together — so avoid soaps and perfumes that could create a nasty flavor combo.

Switching up your diet might also make a difference. Certain foods can change the taste of semen. Some delicious options that can improve your taste are:

  • pineapple
  • nutmeg
  • parsley
  • celery
  • papaya
  • oranges
  • wheatgrass

You know how asparagus can make your pee smell weird? Well, certain foods can also give your spunk a hint of funk, including:

  • meat
  • dairy
  • leafy greens
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • onions
  • garlic
  • asparagus

Genitalia shapes galore

A lot of people are self-conscious about their beavers and willies. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, instances of labiaplasty — a surgical procedure that alters the labia minora, the labia majora, and the skin folds surrounding the vulva — increased 217.3 percent from 2012 to 2017. That’s a lot of sore va-jay-jays.

This surgery surge can likely be attributed to the availability of porn. Comparing yourself to a porn star can bring up feelings of uncertainty about your anatomy. But in reality, penises won’t always look like an 🍆 and a vaj doesn’t have to be a “perfect” 🍑.

Think twice before you give your vagina a facelift or buy a Swedish-made penis enlarger pump (looking at you, Austin Powers). Just rock what you got, because confidence is super sexy.

A lot of folks think they can’t catch a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from oral. But that’s just plain wrong. There’s a chance you’ll contract an STI any time you swap fluids with another person. In fact, any skin-to-skin contact with genitals can lead to an STI.

One of the most common is genital herpes. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes. Other STIs you can get from oral sex are:

  • oral herpes
  • gonorrhea
  • chlamydia
  • thrush
  • syphilis
  • HPV
  • HIV

Common signs of an STI:

  • open sores in your mouth or throat
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • a sore throat
  • white patches in your mouth

It’s possible to have an STI but not have any symptoms. That’s why it’s extremely important to get checked regularly.

Your dentist or doctor can check your mouth and throat for abnormalities — like lumps and open sores — that may indicate a possible STI. Certain strains of HPV can lead to oral and/or cervical cancer.

Let’s talk about fellatio.


Do I have to do “deep throat”? You should never, ever feel obligated to do something sexual that you aren’t comfortable with. But if you’re both into it, then try it out. Start slow and gauge your gag reflex before they start thrusting.

Spit or swallow? This really boils down to personal preference. It’s your call, not theirs. If you don’t want their load in your mouth, then tell them to finish somewhere else (e.g., your chin or chest, a towel).

What if they’re not circumcised? A 2016 review of studies found that 38.7 percent of people with penises around the world are circumcised. This practice is very popular in America, with 71.2 percent going under the knife.

It’s a myth that uncut penises are dirty. If the owner follows basic hygienic standards, it really isn’t an issue.

And in terms of blow jobs, there’s really no difference in technique if the penis is or isn’t circumcised. When an uncircumcised penis becomes hard, the skin pulls back from the head of the penis.

Fellatio technique

When it comes to sucking ween, there are many techniques you can try out. You can start with these core principles, and you’ll be “master of phallic ceremonies” in no time.

  1. Take them out to the ball game. Some peeps like to have their testicles played with. But keep in mind that those things are sensitive. Gently lick them, gauge how your partner likes it, and go from there.
  2. Start licking up and down the shaft, avoiding the head at first. Take your time with it. Then, start to lick the head and slowly build up anticipation before you place your lips around the head.
  3. Combining a blow job with a hand job is like the PB&J of sex acts — they just go great together. Use your saliva or even some lube to get your hand nice and slick while you work up and down in a gentle twisting motion.

Blow job positions

Take a Knee: Kneel in front of your partner while they’re sitting or standing. Even though this is the “standard” blow job position, there are tons of variations. Just have fun with it.

The Mouth Off: This is a good one if you want your partner to feel dominant. Lie faceup on a bed while they stand before you. Have your head almost hanging off the edge. Tilt your head back and let them slide into your mouth. This one is great because they can see how hot you look stretched out before them.

Doctor BJ: Have your partner lounge faceup on a couch. Approach them on your knees from the side. This way, they can be totally relaxed while you do your thing. This position also gives you good leverage, which is nice for your neck.

Safety and cleanup

Slay those flavored condoms! They were invented specifically to increase your oral sex fun. They also greatly reduce your chance of contracting an STI.

As for cleanup, take a shower or use a clean washcloth to cleanse yourself after getting a BJ. For the giver, a little post-coitus mouthwash can’t hurt.

Gather ’round, friends. It’s time to chat cunnilingus.


Does bush matter? Whether you’re working with a “bush baby” or a majestic “bald eagle,” pubic hair style is a choice and shouldn’t affect oral sex. That said, you can’t push your preferences on someone else. If your partner has hair down there, so what? It won’t get in the way of taking them to Pleasureville.

Is it just about the clit? Clicking the bean is extremely stimulating. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore their other bits.

Do I have to penetrate? Some people love getting tongued. Others, not so much. Again, this is totally about personal preferences. If you want to insert a friendly finger, make sure that’s what they want first.

Cunnilingus technique

With coochie munching, it’s all about buildup and confidence. If you take your time and own your craft, they’ll be satisfied. Try this:

  1. Gently stroke the inner thighs with your hands while kissing your way down their stomach.
  2. Start kissing their lips (no, not these 💋 lips, the other ones). Gently lick the area above and surrounding the clitoral hood, the cute little skin jacket that covers the clit.
  3. Flatten your tongue and start lapping up and down, from the bottom of the vulva to the top.
  4. Create tiny circles with your tongue over the clit, switching up the pace and intensity until they’re super turned on.
  5. Once you know they’re on the way to the best orgasm ever, use your fingers to gently spread the clit. Flex your tongue and start licking and sucking it.

Eating out positions

Use your imagination! Pretty much any penetrative sex position will work for oral sex.

Spread Eagle: For the flexible lover in your life, this one’s a real treat. Have them lie on their back, as if you’re about to do it missionary-style. Then have them lift their legs up and spread them to either side. You can use your hands to keep their legs spread apart.

Orgasm Vacuum: Have them lie down or sit in a comfortable position. As long as your mouth can reach their vulva, you’re good to go. Create some suction over their clit. Move your head back and forth and in a circular motion.

The Leg Up: Have them lie on their back with their legs spread. When you start to go down on them, have them lift their feet over your shoulders.

The Classic 69: Start by straddling your partner’s face so they, too, are facing your pleasure zone and can return the favor.

Safety and cleanup

With cunnilingus, dental dams are your friend. These are thin sheets of latex you can use as a barrier between your mouth and the vulva. If you can’t find them at your local pharmacy, you can order them online.

Pro tip: If you’re receiving head, try to pee afterward. Research has shown that urinating after sex helps minimize your risk of a UTI.

Analingus: a “don’t knock it till you try it” situation.


What about… *whispers* poop? Well, this is a straight-up possibility. If you’re licking someone’s butthole, there’s a chance you’ll get poop particles in your mouth. That’s why a thorough preemptive cleaning of the area is essential.

Do I have to stick my tongue inside? Not if you don’t want to! If your partner wants to be penetrated, you can use your fingers or a sex toy. If you do want to use your tongue, make sure your partner is squeaky clean prior to blastoff.

A hairy situation: Most people don’t have a hairless body or a perfectly bleached butthole. Sometimes, your partner is going to have hair around their butt. And that’s OK.

Rimming technique

  1. First things first: Make sure their bum is clean.
  2. If you want to get sensual, start by giving their cheeks a little massage.
  3. Once the mood is just right, start licking their hole slowly, up and down.
  4. Draw circles with your tongue along the rim of their anus.
  5. If you’ve both agreed on penetration, gently slide your finger into their butt. This will help loosen the sphincter if you plan on inserting anything larger (like a penis or a sex toy) into their rectum.
  6. Repeat until they’re satisfied.


Here are some popular options for rimming.

Bow Wow Wow: Ah, doggy-style. A tried-and-true classic. This position is perfect for rimming because the receiver is in a comfortable position while the giver has a sense of control. Simply have your partner get on all fours, or have them press their chest into a pillow with their butt sticking up in the air. Then you can have at it from behind.

X Formation: Have your partner cross their ankles and draw their knees toward their chest, forming an X shape. This will help open the area, allowing you to go deep.

Face Sit: This is great if your partner wants to feel (and be) on top. Just make sure you establish a signal in case you need a break.

Safety and cleanup

In addition to dental dams and condoms, you can try tongue condoms. They may look weird, but there’s zero shame in the safety game.

Also, it’s important to keep your nails trimmed to avoid scratching their anal tissue. And of course, brush your teeth and use mouthwash afterward to kill any unwanted bacteria. And wash your hands.

Here are some bonus tips to take your oral game to the next level.

Be a finger wizard: When inserting the desired number of fingers into your partner’s vagina, don’t sporadically jab them straight in and out. Instead, have your inserted fingers point upward, toward their belly button. Start doing a “come here” motion with your fingers. This is far more pleasurable.

Don’t forget the gooch: Use your tongue to caress your partner’s perineum, the area between the anus and the genitals. This spot can be extra sensitive and enjoyable.

Your tongue is a contortionist: Tongues are awesome. In addition to being seriously strong, they’re exceptionally versatile. Use the very tip of your tongue to tickle, or use the flat of your tongue to create a deep buildup.

Be breathy: If you gently blow up and down their shaft or around their vulva, you’ll add a super intense tingling sensation to their pleasure zones.

Eye contact: If you want to feel a deeper connection to your partner, lock eyes with them as you pleasure them. This will create an added sense of intimacy and trust.

Get vocal: Tell your partner how much you enjoy what you’re doing. Either tell them explicitly or make noises of encouragement. This can be validating for both of you.

Can you still give head in less-than-favorable conditions? Sure! But you should know what’s up first.

Receiving it during your period

This really comes down to your comfort level. If you’re surfing the crimson wave, your vagina may not want a close-up. And even if you’re fine with receiving oral while on your period, your partner may not be OK with giving it. You must respect that.

If you’re both fine with it, you can do some stuff to make the situation more sanitary:

  • Shower or bathe immediately beforehand.
  • Insert a tampon to stop blood from leaving your vagina.
  • Have them finger your booty instead.
  • Use a dental dam.

Pregnant ladies need lovin’ too

While the actual act of getting oral during pregnancy is totally fine, there are other risks. If you contract an STI during pregnancy, there’s a chance your baby will get it as well.

The risk is highest during your third trimester. In fact, if you get herpes during your third trimester, there’s a 30 to 50 percent chance your baby on board will get it. So play it safe and avoid receiving oral if there’s even a slight risk of contracting an STI.

If you’ve recently had surgery, your body needs time to bounce back. After a surgery that might affect your sexual health (like a kidney transplant or hysterectomy), ask your doctor how long you should wait before having sex.

Once you get the all-clear, you can resume oral sex as normal. But, as always, be sure to use appropriate protection.

Now that you’ve graduated from this oral sex master class, you’re ready for commencement. Congratulations!

Oral sex can be more intimate than penetrative sex and can lead to extra insecurities and feelings of self-doubt. But fear not: If you’re confident and have a partner you trust, you can share a truly awesome sexual experience. Stay safe and enjoy the ride.