Cunnilingus Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Going Down on a Woman
Cunnilingus – or oral sex on a woman – is an unbelievably satisfying and intimate act. But just like with any kind of sexual stimulation, what works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for someone else. So it helps to have some oral sex tips to try while you're down there discovering.
Here's our guide to going down on a woman.
What is cunnilingus?
Cunnilingus is another term used for stimulating the vagina, vulva, and/or clitoris with your tongue and lips. This could involve kissing, sucking, or licking the vagina, vulva, or clitoris.
While it's technically the correct name, hardly anyone calls it 'cunnilingus' in conversation. In fact, there are many names for it including 'going down on a woman', 'eating her out' and 'licking the bean', to name a few.
How to go down on a woman
Being the sensitive bundle of nerve endings that it is, the clitoris should be the main focus during cunnilingus. And though it's not the only place to explore, it's a good place to start!
You could either pay close attention to your partner's responses by looking out for shudders, noises or movements that signal they're having a good time or, if you're comfortable to, ask them exactly what they like in the oral sex department. Communication will ultimately bring you closer and should result in a great oral sex experience for you both.
When most people talk about the clitoris, they're usually referring to the visible glans. In fact, only a very small amount of this sex organ is actually exposed, and research suggests that the clitoris – and clitoral nerves – actually extends to the anterior wall of the vagina.
As we said, everyone is different. So here are some oral sex tips you can try to find out what your partner likes. Keep in mind that these aren't in systematic order and are more of a guide than concrete dos and don'ts.
1. Tease first, lick later
Launching straight into a rhythmic tongue workout can be too much for some people. If this is the case, try teasing and building up to direct stimulation by lightly kissing their thighs, breathing on them, attending to everywhere but their clitoral glans. This will get them so worked up that whatever you do when you finally get to the clitoris is likely to have explosive results.
2. Use the tip of your tongue
Trace delicate circles on the clitoral hood or glans using just the tip of the tongue and see how they react. Some people love how targeted this tongue movement is, especially if you hit the right spot for them. This could be inside the clitoral hood, but try the entire clitoral area to see what gets the best reaction.
3. Apply more pressure
If light licks aren't doing it for them, try pressing onto and around the clitoris a bit harder with your tongue. This added stimulation might be what gets them going.
4. Stimulate through the hood
Many people find direct stimulation of the clitoral glans too intense, especially to begin with. If that's the case, instead of pulling the clitoral hood up to expose the glans, you can stimulate the glans through the hood instead, working up to direct contact if they're into it.
5. Try through underwear
Some people enjoy receiving oral through their underwear, as this creates an even bigger build-up.
6. Lick flat and long
You can also use the flat part of the end of your tongue and gently lick the length of the clitoris. The clitoral nerves reach into the inner labia, so don't neglect this ultra-sensitive area.
7. A little suction
Close your lips over their clitoris and lightly suck, moving your head ever so slightly from side to side.
8. Penetrate and lick simultaneously
Some people enjoy penetration at the same time as oral, so insert a finger (or two) and slide them in and out in time with your licks, or hook your fingers up towards their belly button and rock them slightly for super satisfying G-spot pressure. This dual stimulation can feel amazing and may lead to an intense blended orgasm.
If they're clearly enjoying what you're doing (again, don't be afraid to ask if they're not being that vocal) and you've worked up to a rhythm that's clearly working for them, consistency is everything.
If they're telling you to keep going, keep doing exactly what you're doing. Keep paying attention to those reactions, and if they're telling you they're close to orgasm do not stop what you're doing.
Best positions for oral sex
Everyone prefers cunnilingus a different way, but here are our top five oral sex positions.
1. Lying down on your back
Most people tend to prefer lying down on their back, with their partner between their thighs.
If you are the one performing cunnilingus, this position gives you a good range for moving your hand up and down their thighs, stroking their tummy, or reaching up to their breasts and nipples to add to the pleasure.
2. On a chair
Try oral with your partner sitting in a chair, with their legs spread. You can then kneel in front of them, hands on their thighs, and they can rest their leg on your back to control your movements.
The key to this position is not for the receiver to actually sit down on your face. They should kneel towards your shoulders, straddling over your head and hovering a couple of inches from your face.
Doggy can be a great position for cunnilingus, as it treats the giver to an amazing view and access to the entire intimate area. It's also a great way to involve rimming – if that's what you're both into – but remember to never go from butt to vagina.
5. The 69
The 69 involves both partners receiving oral at the same time, whether that's two people enjoying cunnilingus, two people enjoying blow jobs, or one of each. Either way, this position offers the chance to both give and receive pleasure, so you can both have a great time. The only trick is maintaining focus!
Best sex toys for oral sex
Solo oral sex toys
Oral sex doesn't always have to be accomplished with a partner. You can still achieve the sensations with special oral sex toys. Here are a few that mimic the feeling of cunnilingus:
Common Oral Sex Worries... And How to Banish Them
1. Help, I can't relax!
You're much more likely to enjoy receiving cunnilingus if you're relaxed. If you find it really hard to switch off, close your eyes or slip on a blindfold. Removing your sight from the equation can help you to lose your inhibitions, so you can focus on enjoying your partner's oral skills rather than getting distracted.
2. Am I clean?
Nobody's vagina smells like freshly laundered linen or roses – everyone has a natural smell and taste. If niggling thoughts like this are holding you back from enjoying oral sex, have a quick shower, or wash down there beforehand.
3. What do I taste like?
Again, it's unlikely you taste like your partner's favorite ice cream flavor - but lots of people who perform cunnilingus say that they love the way their partner tastes! There's some debate about how much you can really alter your own 'flavor' (and whether you should), but a healthy diet, lots of water, and good vaginal hygiene are the simplest and safest ways to keep your vulva feeling its best.
4. Do I tell them what to do, or let them do their thing?
Shouting a set of instructions might be off-putting (unless it's a turn-on for you both), but gentle encouragement is great for the person giving, as it lets them know when they're hitting the right spots.
Make the right noises, gently (gently!) move their head, tell them what feels good. If something they're doing doesn't feel right, or you want them to stop, the only way they'll know is if you communicate that, so be vocal and ask for what you want.
Talking about what you like outside of a sexy scenario (like when you're lying in bed chatting) can be helpful for both of you, too. If something isn't working for you, try to be encouraging rather than critical – phrases like "I really love it when you..." and "It turned me on so much when you [insert oral sex thing here]" can be really good conversation starters.
5. I don't like giving/getting oral sex... Am I weird?
No way. Everyone has their sexual preferences, and some people just aren't into it – that's totally fine.
If it's that you don't have much experience and you're not confident about your oral expertise, then just giving it a go with a patient and encouraging partner can improve your confidence.
If it's because you feel self-conscious about the way you look, taste, or smell, it might be worth exploring how to lose those hang-ups with the help of a supportive partner.
If you've had a bad experience with a previous partner, remember that not everyone is the same – you might be missing out on an intimate act with a partner who respects and values your pleasure.
How to have healthy, happy cunnilingus
Now obviously we don't want to put you off oral sex (I mean, it's pretty awesome!), but it is possible to contract an STI from oral sex. With this in mind, there are a few precautions you and your partner can take in order to make sure everyone is safe and having a great time.
1. Wrap it up
The only way to be completely protected from transmitting or contracting an STI is to have regular sexual health screenings and to always use a barrier contraceptive with new sex partners.
Barrier contraceptives (female condoms and dental dams) are a type of prophylactic that can prevent skin-on-skin contact and the transferral of bodily fluids that may contain a sexually transmitted disease.
2. Get tested
Obviously, if you and your partner know you're STD free, you can go ahead and have all the oral fun. But since some STDs are symptomless, you'll need to take a test at your doctor's or local sexual health clinic.
Because you can get some STDs in your throat, ask them for a mouth swab as well as a genital swab, and a rectal swab if you think you need one (if you've had anal sex, or if rimming is part of your sexual repertoire).
3. Won't a barrier method reduce sensation?
If the receiver is worried about reduced sensation with a condom or dam, make it your mission to get them so turned on they won't notice it.
For those of you who are turned off by the idea of a prophylactic, your best bet is to know your sexual health status and to share it with your partner.