Both the mouth and the genitals are primary biological erogenous zones, areas of the body generously endowed with sensory nerve endings. Thus couples that are psycho­logically comfortable with oral-genital stimulation often find both giving and receiv­ing it to be highly pleasurable. Oral-genital contact can produce pleasure, arousal, or orgasm. As one woman stated:

I think that men put too much emphasis on a woman coming from "regular sex." A lot of women I know, including myself, have only experienced orgasm (aside from masturbation) through oral sex. I thoroughly enjoy getting and giv­ing oral sex. I love the sounds, sights, smells, and tastes. (Authors’ files)

Oral-genital stimulation can be done individually (by one partner to the other) or simultaneously. Some people prefer oral sex individu­ally, because they can focus on either giving or receiving, as in I Figure 8.5. Others especially enjoy the mutuality of simultaneous oral-genital sex. Simultaneous stimulation is sometimes referred to as 69 because of the body positions suggested by that number (I Figure 8.6). Besides the position illustrated in the figure, a variety of other positions can be used, such as lying side by side and using a thigh for a pillow. Because arousal becomes intense during mutual oral-genital stimulation, part­ners need to be careful not to suck or bite too hard.

Different terminology is used to describe oral-genital stimulation of women and oral-genital stimulation of men. Cunnilingus (kuh – ni-LIN-gus) is oral stimulation of the vulva: the clitoris, labia minora, vestibule, and vaginal opening. Many women find the warmth, soft­ness, and moistness of the partner’s lips and tongue highly pleasurable and effective in producing sexual arousal or orgasm. In fact, there is research evidence that women are most likely to experience orgasm in sexual encounters that include cunnilingus (Richters et al., 2006). Variations of stimulation include rapid or slow circular or back-and-forth tongue move­ment on the clitoral area, sucking the clitoris or labia minora, and thrusting the tongue into the vaginal opening. Some women are especially aroused by simultaneous manual or dildo stimulation of the vagina and oral stimulation of the clitoral area. According to the NSSHB study, over half of women ages 18 to 49 had received oral sex from a male partner in the previous year (Herbenick et al., 2010b).

Fellatio (fuh-LAY-shee-oh) is oral stimulation of the penis and scrotum. Options for oral stimulation of the male genitals include gently or vigorously licking and sucking the glans, the frenulum, and the penile shaft, and licking or enclosing a testicle in the mouth. Some men enjoy combined oral stimulation of the glans and manual stroking of the penile shaft, testes, or anus. Among homosexual men fellatio is the most common mode of sexual expression—more so than anal sex (Lever, 1994).

It is usually best for the partner performing fellatio to control the other’s movements by grasping the penis manually below her or his lips to prevent it from going farther into the mouth than is comfortable. This helps avoid a gag reflex. Also, too vigorous thrust­ing could result in lacerations of the partner’s lips as he or she attempts to protect the penis from his or her teeth.

I Figure 8.6 Simultaneous oral-genital stimulation in the 69 position.


Couples differ in their preference for including ejaculation into the mouth as a part of male oral-genital stimulation. Many find it acceptable, and some find it exciting. For those who do not want oral sex to include ejaculation into the mouth, a couple can agree beforehand that the one being stimulated will indicate when he is close to orgasm and withdraw from his partner’s mouth. For couples who are comfortable with ejaculating into the mouth, the ejaculate can be swallowed or not, according to one’s preference. The flavor of ejaculate varies from person to person and is influenced by the factors described in ■ Table 8.5.

■ TABLE 8.5 Factors Affecting Taste of Ejaculate

Sources of Unpleasant Bitter or Salty-Tasting Ejaculate

Sources of Milder-Tasting Ejaculate

Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, and recreational drugs

Water—1 to 2 liters a day

red meats and dairy products

Fruit, especially pineapple juice

Garlic, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus

Veggies with high chlorophyll content, such as parsley and celery

Cinnamon, cardamom, peppermint, and lemon

Source: Tarkovsky, 2006.

In the United States, differences in oral sex experience and attitudes exist among population segments, as shown in the following Sexuality and Diversity discussion.