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How to have oral sex

A couple having oral sex

'Going down', 'giving head', 'blow jobs' … there are many different ways of saying ‘oral sex’. Oral sex means using your mouth and tongue to stimulate your partners’ genitals  – but do you want to do it and are you ready?

Should I have oral sex?

Just like having sexual intercourse, it’s a big decision to start having oral sex, and it’s important that you’re ready to start exploring in this way. If someone is trying to convince you to have oral sex with lines like these then stand back and question whether you’re being pressured into it:

  • “It doesn’t mean we’ve had real sex – you’ll still be a virgin.”
  • “If you don’t want sex then you should at least go down on me.”
  • “It’s not as risky as having intercourse.”

However, oral sex can be a good way to discover new pleasures with your partner without having sexual intercourse. So if you’re happy and comfortable with the person you’re with it can be a great way to get physically closer and learn what turns each other on.

Some people find that when they have oral sex for the first time – whether they’re giving it or receiving it – they feel nervous. Remember that everyone is different and it takes a while to work out what makes someone feel good.

Giving a man oral sex

If a man has an erection then he is likely to be aroused enough for oral sex. However, it’s still a good idea to use your hand to touch him before you start to help work up to the sensation of oral sex.

If you’re unsure how far you want him to penetrate your mouth, use your thumb and forefinger to make a ring around his penis, stopping it as far as you want to go. You can keep moving it down slowly until you reach the point where it feels deep enough.

Many men find oral sex (also known as ‘blow jobs’) highly sensitive, so start gently and slowly and work up to a faster pace.

Even if you decide to give a man oral sex, it doesn’t mean that you have to let him ejaculate in your mouth. Of course, if he’s wearing a condom this won’t be such an issue, and it means you will both be protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. It’s also entirely up to you how long you continue for.

Giving a woman oral sex

It’s usually a good idea to spend some time kissing and touching before giving a woman oral sex. Take your time to explore her upper thighs and the area around her vagina first, to help her get aroused.

The most sensitive part of the vagina for a woman is the clitoris, which has more than 8,000 nerve endings. But the whole pelvic area has 15,000 nerve endings, meaning it is very sensitive.1 Gently part the outer lips of the vagina and look for the vaginal opening, and the hooded clitoris just above it.

Start off softly, using a relaxed tongue to make slow movements and work up to faster movements with a firmer, pointed tongue.

Being safe and sure

Oral sex isn’t necessarily a safer alternative to sexual intercourse. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis can still be passed on, so using a condom or dental dam (a thin, soft plastic that covers the vagina) is still important.2

Although it carries a very low risk, HIV transmission is also possible from oral sex. This could happen if the person receiving oral sex has an STI or sores on their genital area, or if the person giving oral sex has sores in their mouth or bleeding gums.3

You should avoid having oral sex if either of you has sores around your mouth, vagina or penis. These could be a sign of an infection, so get them checked out by a healthcare professional.4 Also be aware that infections can still be passed on through oral sex even if there are no signs or symptoms of the infection.5

Talking to your partner about protection before you start having oral sex will help things go more smoothly. This can be embarrassing, but it’s an important part of having sex – and if you find it too difficult to discuss then it could be a sign that you aren’t ready to start having oral sex just yet.

Photo credit: ©

Page last reviewed: 
01 May 2015
Next review date: 
01 November 2016

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