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Oral sex consists of all the sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, tongue, and possibly the throat, to stimulate genitalia.

It may be used as foreplay before intercourse, as climax of a sexual act, during or following intercourse. It is sometimes performed to the exclusion of all other forms of sexual activity.

Oral sex may or may not include the ingestion or absorption of semen and/or vaginal fluids. Ingestion of these fluids alone, without physical mouth-to-genital contact (e.g., the extreme form of facial known as bukkake), is not considered to be oral sex -- although it remains an extreme erotic practice nevertheless.

Common slang terms for oral sex include "going down on", "giving head to", "giving a blowjob to" (male recipient), "blowing" (male recipient), "eating out" (female), "licking out" (female) or "sucking off" (male), a sexual partner.


Oral sex is practiced in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. In heterosexual relationships, oral sex can be a method of contraception (birth control) since pregnancy is impossible unless sperm enters the vagina. Many heterosexuals choose oral sex as an alternative to intercourse for this reason. It is important to note that oral sexual activities are not effective methods of preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), although some forms of STD are believed to be less readily spread in this way.[1][2] Some heterosexual couples use fellatio as a substitute for intercourse during a woman's menstrual cycle or pregnancy. While it is often used for these reasons, oral sex is also commonly used between heterosexual couples as they consider it pleasureable, or as foreplay. Many women who are situationally anorgasmic can only achieve orgasm through oral sex, and so they often prefer it instead of or in addition to sexual intercourse.

A report issued in September 2005 by the National Center for Health Statistics was the basis of an article in the September 26 2005 issue of Time magazine. The report comes from the results of a computer-administered survey of over 12,000 Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, and states that over half the teenagers questioned have had oral sex. While some headlines have interpreted this as evidence that oral sex among teens is "on the rise", this was the first comprehensive study of its kind to examine the matter.[3]

Among those who would be dedicated virgins, oral sex is also common, as some people do not consider oral sex to change the status of their virginity.




Fellatio with mouth stimulation of the glans

File:Felicien Rops 69.jpg

69 Sex Position

Fellatio describes the oral stimulation of the penis. A common technique of fellatio is to take the glans of the erect penis in the mouth while rhythmically caressing the rest of the penis with the hands; the testes and the shaft of the penis can also be licked with the tongue. Suction is often used to increase the pressure and friction exerted on the penis. As the performance of fellatio progresses, the receiver may contribute pre-ejaculatory fluid to the saliva of the giver, resulting in a more lubricated penis and enhanced erotic experience. This fluid is produced by the Cowper's glands and is not semen, although it may contain traces of sperm.

Depending on the preference of the participants, this stimulation may produce an orgasm and ejaculation of semen, or may just be used as a precursor to sexual intercourse (see foreplay). If the semen is accepted into the mouth it may or may not be swallowed (hence the slang phrase, spit or swallow). Alternatively, providers of fellatio averse to receiving semen in their mouth can shift stimulation from mouth to hand once the male's orgasm is imminent. An infrequent side effect of ejaculating into the mouth is that the semen may be gagged upon.

While the use of the mouth to stimulate the penis, especially the glans, is a central feature of fellatio, often the partner simultaneously stimulates the shaft of the penis with his/her hand to provide the man with the feeling of the penis being enclosed. Some authorities (such as Franklin, The Ultimate Kiss, p. 62) recommend this as the preferred and most satisfying method of providing oral sex to a man. Another technique is to have the penis head go in and out of the mouth very quickly (without going down to the shaft). Also, some men find it another extra pleasure if the giver runs the tips of his/her fingernails on his erect shaft at the same time they are using their mouth, they say it offers a "tickling sensation."

Some males regard receiving oral sex as an ego boost, believing that such an act is a form of dominance over their sexual partner.[4]

One form of fellatio is known as deep throating, after the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat. This technique involves repressing the gag reflex and taking the entire erect penis in the mouth, the shaft bending slightly to allow the head of the penis to slide partially down the throat of the fellator. A deep throat session may even go 'balls-deep', a colloquial expression denoting that the provider of fellatio has fit the entire penis in their mouth, with deeper engorgement prevented only by the girth of the testicles.

The common slang term blow-job technically is a misnomer, as true "blowing"; i.e., the expelling of air through the mouth, is not used in fellatio as it would not be pleasurable . It is most commonly thought to reflect an intentional conflation of "suck" and "blow," technically antonyms but both equally suitable as vulgar terms describing oral sexual activity. Further, the act of giving a blow-job is generally not properly defined as "sucking"; rather, the mouth is tensely moved up and down the penis's shaft, with the giver neither sucking nor blowing. At times, the giver may in fact use a sucking motion on the head of the penis, but this is generally not the sole form of fellatio. Some have postulated that the term is a corruption of "below-job", allegedly an old Victorian slang term that was commonly used to describe the act. However, there is a third school of thought that believes the word "blow" in "blow-job" indicates the climax of the penis (compare to blowing of a volcano). It is further argued that the phrase "blow-job" originated in the 1940's;[5] at the time, it was also used by Allied pilots as a slang term for jet aircraft.[6]

File:Cunnilingus 1.jpg



Cunnilingus portrayed at Pompeii


Main article: cunnilingus

Cunnilingus is the act of using the mouth and tongue to stimulate the female genitals, especially the clitoris. The term comes from an alternative Latin word for the vulva (cunnus) and from the Latin word for tongue (lingua). Less than one-third of women orgasm easily during the actual act of intercourse. Masturbation and cunnilingus are alternative ways for women to achieve orgasm with a partner. Most women can orgasm easily during clitoral or pubic area stimulation.[7]

As in all human sexual behaviour, the variety of techniques in cunnilingus and individual responses to them are almost endless. As always, communication, experimentation and practice are the best way to learn how to please a particular partner.

The glans of the clitoris is the most sensitive part for almost all women, but may be too sensitive to stimulate directly at times, especially in early stages of arousal, and it is often best to begin with a gentler, less focused stimulation of the labia and the whole genital area. Ron Jeremy has advised in several films that a clockwise, counterclockwise, all over the place approach is more important than focusing solely on the clitoris. Tongue tip, blade or underside can be used, as can the nose, chin, lips and teeth (with caution). Movements can be slow or fast, regular or erratic, firm or soft as the moment requires. The tongue can be inserted into the vagina, either stiffened or moving. Humming to cause vibration while performing cunnilingus is often considered to be especially arousing, with certain pitches, rhythms or tunes thought to be particularly effective by different people.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Cunnilingus is easily accompanied by the insertion of finger(s) or a sex toy into the vagina, which allows for the simultaneous stimulation of the g-spot, or into the anus, either of which many women find produce very intense sensations.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Many other activities can accompany cunnilingus to enhance overall pleasure, limited only by preference, psychology and anatomy.

Cunnilingus is also sometimes referred to as "muff diving", "eating out" or "poon-job", a slang term and a cunnilingus variant of "blow-job" (see the section of Fellatio above), where "poon" is short for poontang or punani.

Additionally, in lesbian culture several common slang terms used are "giving lip," "lip service," or "tipping the velvet" (a faux-"Victorian" expression invented by novelist Sarah Waters).

Until recently not spoken of openly in Western society, cunnilingus is accorded a revered place in Chinese Taoism. This is because the aim of Taoism is to achieve immortality, or at least longevity, and the loss of semen, vaginal, and other, bodily liquids is believed to bring about a corresponding loss of vitality. However, conversely, by either semen retention or ingesting the secretions from the vagina, a male can conserve and increase his ch'i, or original vital breath. In Taoism:

The Great Medicine of the Three Mountain Peaks is to be found in the body of the woman and is composed of three juices, or essences: one from the woman's mouth, another from her breasts, and the third, the most powerful, from the Grotto of the White Tiger, which is at the Peak of the Purple Mushroom (the mons veneris).—Octavio Paz. Conjunctions and Disjunctions. trans. Helen R. Lane. 1975. (London: Wildwood House, 1969) p. 97.

According to Philip Rawson (in Paz, p. 97), these half-poetic, half-medicinal metaphors explain the popularity of cunnilingus among the Chinese: "The practice was an excellent method of imbibing the precious feminine fluid" (Paz, p. 97). But the Taoist ideal is not just about the male being enriched by female secretions; the female also benefits from her communion with the male, a feature that has led the sinologist, Kristofer Schipper, to denounce the ancient handbooks on the "Art of the Bedroom" as embracing a "kind of glorified male vampirism", that is not truly Taoist at all.[8] Ideally, by mingling the male and female liquids, the Taoist aims to reconcile opposites and to recapture the mythical time that existed before the division of the sexes, the primordial time of the original ch'i.

The religious historian, Mircea Eliade, speaks of a similar desire to transcend old age and death, and achieve a state of nirvana, in the Hindu practice of Tantric yoga. In Tantric yoga, the same emphasis is placed on the retention and absorption of vital liquids and Sanscrit texts describe how the male semen must not be emitted if the yogin is to avoid falling under law of time and death.[9]

The effort devoted to cunnilingus is sometimes considered by women to be a rough measure of the sexual skill and disposition of the man, Many men do not give cunnilingus at all, despite the fact that the majority of women can achieve orgasm only through cunnilingus or other clitoral stimulation. Some men are known to give cunnilingus, but in a rushed and harsh way, perhaps owing to a belief that cunnilingus is an undesirable form of male submission to the female. The lack of care when giving head to a woman has been warned against in the fictional Natural Born Killers, in which Mallory Juliette Lewis shoots an auto mechanic and admonishes the corpse that it was "the worst head I've ever had. Next time don't be so eager."


Main article: Anal-oral contact

Anal-oral contact – also referred to as anilingus and colloquially known as rimming, a rimjob, or "tossing the salad" – is a sexual activity involving contact between the anus or perianal areas of one person and the mouth of another. "Perianal" means "around or about the anus".[10]


Facesitting is a form of oral sex in which the receiver sits on the giver's face and pushes into it with his or her genitals. Oral sex can be performed by both partners at the same time in the so-called "sixty-nine" position. The receiver of oral sex may find it pleasurable if the giver hums or sings at the same time, sometimes called a hummer.[How to reference and link to summary or text] This in effect makes the giver's mouth into a vibrator, though unlike mechanical vibrators the mouth has built-in lubricant (saliva). A similar effect can now be created by placing a small, yet powerful vibrator under the jaw, causing the tongue to vibrate, which can be very pleasurable in small quantities, but can be numbing for one or both parties if overused.

Spitting and/or swallowing of the ejaculatory fluids may cause different sexual stimulations. Also, eye contact - during fellatio or cunnilingus may be very stimulating and more pleasurable as it acknowledges that a real person is performing oral sex, not a machine or sex toy. Autofellatio is a possible but rare variant; autocunnilingus may also be possible for women with extremely flexible spines. Irrumatio is similar to fellatio, but with the receiver actively thrusting into the giver's mouth. Irrumatio is often depicted in pornography as a type of dominant behavior.


Oral sex had been considered to be a taboo or at least frowned upon in many cultures and parts of the world.[11] Reasons mentioned are that this sexual act does not lead to procreation, or that is a humiliating and/or unclean practice (an opinion that is, at least in some cases, connected with the symbolics attached to different parts of the body). This has been more or less the case in Christian and Sub-Saharan African cultures, in Ancient Rome, and Ancient India. Similar lines of reasoning have been espoused by only a fraction of the modern religious authorities in Islamic cultures.

In pre-Christian Ancient Rome, sexual acts were generally seen through the prism of submission and control. This is apparent in the two Latin words for the act: irrumare (to penetrate orally), and fellare (to be penetrated orally). Under this system, it was considered to be abhorrent for a male to perform fellatio or cunnilingus, since that would mean that he was penetrated (controlled), whereas receiving fellatio from a woman or another man of lower social status (such as a slave or debtor) was not humiliating. The Romans regarded oral sex as being far more shameful than, for example, anal sex — known practitioners were supposed to have foul breath and were often unwelcome as guests at a dinner table.[12] The practice was taboo for public health reasons, as well. In Rome, the genitals were considered to be unclean. Oral sex was thought to make the mouth dirty, and (ultimately) to present a public health risk.

Interestingly, the practice of fellatio was said to have been introduced by the women of Lesbos, who used to whiten their lips as though with semen.[13]

The Ancient Indian Kama Sutra, dating from the first centuries AD, does describe oral sex,[14] discussing fellatio in great detail and only briefly mentioning cunnilingus. However, according to the Kama Sutra, fellatio is above all a characteristic of eunuchs (or, according to other translations, of effeminate homosexuals or transwomen similar to the modern Hijra of India), who use their mouths as a substitute for female genitalia. The author states that it is also practiced by "unchaste women," but mentions widespread traditional concerns about this being a degrading or unclean practice, with known practitioners being evaded as love partners in large parts of the country. He seems to agree with these attitudes to some extent, claiming that "a wise man" should not engage in that form of intercourse, while acknowledging that it can be appropriate in some (unspecified) cases.

In Islamic literature, the only two forms of sex that are explicitly prohibited between married couples are anal sex and sex during menstrual cycles.[15] Still, the exact attitude towards oral sex is a subject of disagreements between modern scholars of Islam. In Islamic terminology, the practice hasn't been described as haram (forbidden), but some have claimed that it is makruh (undesirable).[How to reference and link to summary or text] The authorities that consider it objectionable do so because of the contact between the supposedly impure fluids, emitted during intercourse, and the mouth.[16][17] Others emphasize that there is no decisive evidence to forbid it.[18]

A common misperception is that oral sex is still nominally illegal in some states in the U.S. However, in the U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, struck down all anti-sodomy laws in the United States, declaring that such laws violated the liberty phrase of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Health issues[]

Semen contains water, small amounts of salt, protein, zinc [19] and fructose sugar. It is slightly alkaline, which causes some to find the taste bitter or brackish, but neither male nor female sexual bodily fluids are in themselves harmful to a sexual partner, apart from concerns of STDs (separately discussed below).

Urban legends sometimes describe semen as nutritious and a good source of protein. However, semen contains only a small amount of protein and in any case is typically available only in small quantities during oral sex.

Partners should be careful not to bite or scratch the genitalia with the teeth harder than desired. It is also possible for the inside of the mouth to be bruised by the penis if oral sex is too rough, although this can be lessened if the person giving fellatio tilts his or her head back (as in looking up) instead of keeping the head level. People with mouth ulcers and temporomandibular joint disorder may find that giving oral sex is uncomfortable.

Possible beneficial effects[]

It has been suggested that fellatio may have a beneficial role in preventing dangerous complications during pregnancy. Specifically, a research group [20] reported that pre-eclampsia, a life threatening complication that sometimes arises in pregnancy, is much less frequent in couples who have practiced oral sex, and even more rare in couples where fellatio ended with the semen swallowed. Both results were highly statistically significant. This is consistent with other evidence that semen contains an agent that prevents preeclampsia, and with the theory that preeclampsia is an immunological condition. [21][22][23] According to that view, preeclampsia is caused by a failure of the mother's organism to accept the foetus and placenta, which both contain "foreign" proteins from the father's genes. Regular exposure to the father's semen might cause her immune system to gradually "grow accustomed" to his proteins. Other studies also found that, while any exposure to the partner's sperm during sex appears to decrease the chances of various disorders, women who have practiced "other sex acts" than intercourse are half as likely to suffer pre-eclampsia. It is not known whether this represents a protective effect of "other sex acts" including oral sex, or a correlation between these sexual practices and some other protective factor: for example, greater overall frequency of sex [21]. The standard way to resolve such questions (confounding) in medical science would be through a randomized trial, but there are unique challenges to research in sexual health [24].

When reporting the findings of the first research group mentioned above, New Scientist magazine thought it worth mentioning that some of the research team were women (including the lead author).

Candidates for a protective agent in semen may include serum hormone leutinizing agent and transforming growth factor beta [verification needed].

Sexually transmitted diseases[]

Chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis (multiple strains), and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — including HIV — can be transmitted through oral sex.[25] However transmission of HIV through fellatio or cunnilingus is relatively rare. Any kind of direct contact with body fluids of a person infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) should be avoided. In 2005, a research study at the College of Malmö in Sweden suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with HPV might increase the risk of oral cancer .[26] The risk from most of these types of infection, however, is generally considered far lower than that associated with vaginal or anal sex.

Furthermore, oral sex should be avoided when either partner has wounds or open sores on the genitals or mouth, or bleeding gums in the mouth, or has recently brushed, flossed, undergone dental work, or eaten crunchy foods such as potato chips, all of which can cause small scratches in the lining of the mouth. These wounds, even when they are microscopic, increase the chances of contracting STDs that can be transmitted orally under these conditions. Such contact can also lead to more mundane infections from common bacteria and viruses found in, around and secreted from the genital regions. Because of this, many medical professionals advise the use of condoms in the performance of fellatio (flavoured condoms are available for this purpose) and the use of plastic or latex sheets (dental dams or ordinary plastic wrap) for cunnilingus, although the latter has failed to achieve the same level of widespread use as condoms.

Terminology and slang[]

There are many words describing oral sex, including euphemisms and slang. Like all aspects of sexuality, there exist a very large number of variations on a theme, and no attempt will be made here to represent them all.

  • The word fellatio comes from the Latin term fellare which means "to suck".
  • A common slang term for giving oral sex to either a man or woman is "giving head", from the term "head job" (in contrast to "hand job" - manual stimulation).
  • The use of the term "blow job" in a sexual context was first recorded in 1942."[27]
  • "blow job" can be abbreviated to be represented as "B.J." or "beej" (pronounced beedge)
  • The pun "cunning linguist" is a play on "cunnilingus". In its whole form, the pun is often used with a second sexual pun in the following sentence: "You may be a cunning linguist, but I'm a master debater!" The second sexual pun being "master debater," a play on "masturbator."

Works cited[]

  • James N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Johns Hopkins, 1990) ISBN 0-8018-2968-2
  • Hill B. F, Jones J. S. "Venous air embolism following orogenital sex during pregnancy". Am J Emerg Med. 1993 Mar;11(2):155-7.
  • Jacqueline Franklin, The Ultimate Kiss: Oral Lovemaking, A Sensual Guide for Couples (Los Angeles: Media Press, 2001) ISBN 0-917181-17-4
  • Kaiser R. T. "Air embolism death of a pregnant woman secondary to orogenital sex". Acad Emerg Med. 1994 Nov-Dec;1(6):555-8.123


  1. GMHC Geffen Testing Center's HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C Information Sheet Accessed November 4, 2006
  2. University Health Center, University of Georgia Oral Sex Accessed November 4, 2006
  4. Paley, Maggie (2000). The Book of the Penis.
  7. Hite, Shere (2004 edition). The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, 11, New York, NY: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1-58322-569-2.
  8. Kristofer Schipper. [1982] 1993. The Taoist Body. trans. Karen C. Duval. Berkeley; Los Angeles; (London: University of California Press). p. 148
  9. Eliade Mircea. [1954] 1973. Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. trans. Willard R. Trask. (Princeton: Princeton University Press). p. 267–268
  10. Perianal definition
  20. Koelman et al. (2000) "Correlation between oral sex and a low incidence of preeclampsia: A role for soluble HLA in seminal fluid?" Journal of Reproductive Immunology Volume 46 pp. 155 - 166
  21. 21.0 21.1 Sex 'primes woman for sperm' BBC News
  22. Taylor RN (1997) "Review: Immunobiology of preeclampsia" American Journal of Reproductive Immunology Volume 37 pp. 79-86
  23. Chaouat et al., (2005) "Fourth International Workshop on Immunology of Pre-eclampsia, December 2004, Reunion, France" Journal of Reproductive Immunology Volume 67 pp. 103-111
  24. Schroder KEE, Carey MP, Vanable PA (2003) Methodological Challenges in Research on Sexual Risk Behavior: I. Item Content, Scaling, and Data Analytical Options. Annals of Behavioral Medicine Volume 26, Issue 2, Pages 76-103.
  27. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

See also[]

External links[]

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