Oral sex, also called cunnilingus (oral sex on a woman) and fellatio (oral sex on a man), has been practiced throughout history. Ancient Greek vases, 10th-century temples in India, and even 19th-century playing cards, all portrayed couples engaging in different types of oral sex. Over the years, however, there have been many taboos associated with oral sex. For some people, oral sex is not an option. It may be against their religion or beliefs or they may simply find it disgusting or sickening. However, for many people, oral sex is an important part of sexual behavior.

The majority of Americans report that they engage in oral sex at least occasionally. Many men and women begin engaging in oral sex prior to their first experience with sex­ual intercourse (and many teenagers experiment with oral sex, as we discussed in Chapter 8). In one study, 70% of males reported performing cunnilingus prior to their first sexual intercourse, whereas 57% of females reported performing fellatio prior to their first coitus (I. M. Schwartz, 1999). Research into racial differences has found that African-American women engage in less fellatio and/or cunnilingus than white women (Wyatt, 1998). African-American women who did engage in these behaviors were more likely to be married, whereas white women were more likely to be single if they engage in fellatio. Differences have also been found in educational levels. As educational levels increase, so does experience with oral sex (Laumann et al., 1994).

Those who enjoy oral sex usually do so as a form of foreplay. Others like to have oral sex instead of other sexual behaviors, and some may engage in sixty-nine (see Figure 10.10). This position, however, can be very challenging for some couples and may not provide the best stimulation for either of them. Anilingus (ain-uh-LING-gus; or “rimming”), another form of oral sex, involves oral stimulation of the anus. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that hygiene is important to avoid the spread of intestinal infections, hepatitis, and various sexually transmitted infections by an in­fected partner.

One note of caution here: a partner should never force another partner to engage in oral sex. This can be very detrimental to a relationship. As one man recalls:

I really want my girlfriend to go down on me. I keep trying to put myself in a posi­tion in bed where my cock is close to her lips, but she doesn’t seem to take the hint.

Подпись: Figure 10.10 The sixty-nine position. Once I actually took hold of her hair and tried to push her down there, but she got upset and after that I didn’t know what else to do. (Masterton, 1987, p. 9)

Some people feel that engaging in oral sex is less intimate than sexual intercourse and may not like it for this reason. Because there is little face-to-face contact during cunnilingus or fellatio, it may make partners feel emotion­ally distant. Other people report that engaging in oral sex is one of the most intimate behav­iors that a couple can engage in because it re­quires total trust and vulnerability. Not sur­prisingly, the majority of men and women are more interested in receiving oral sex rather than giving it (Laumann et al., 1994). When there is a conflict in a relationship concern­ing oral sex, partners should talk about it and try to compromise. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, couples should try to find a mutually satisfying alternative.

One more thing deserves mention before we discuss the types of oral sex. If the per­son giving oral sex has a cold sore in his or her mouth or lips, it is possible to transmit this virus to the person on whom they are performing oral sex. In Chapter 15 we will dis­cuss how sexually transmitted infections are spread.

Oral Sex: Not So TabooQuestion: Do women like their partners to kiss them right after they have performed cunnilingus on them?

Some women do; some do not. For some women, sharing a kiss after cunnilingus can be very erotic and sensual. However, other women feel uncomfortable with the taste of their own genitals. It would be best to ask your partner to see what her individual pleasure is.