Brianne Hogan
April 23, 2019 6:05 am
Anna Buckley, HelloGiggles

Fact: you can never not improve your oral sex skills, especially when it comes to cunnilingus. If women were frank about what goes down when going down (and we should always be honest when it comes to our sex lives), we’d admit that some people have a very hard time finding the clit, and that if they do know where it is, they don’t always know what to do with it. That is, if cunnilingus is even being put on the table (or the bed, the kitchen counter, etc.) at all.

“The most common complaint about cunnilingus is that it’s not offered enough or for long enough,” Dr. Laura Deitsch, resident sexologist at Vibrant, Planned Parenthood’s sex toy e-tailer, tells HelloGiggles. Other common gripes include being self-conscious about how they smell, taste, or look “down there.”

“Stigma and shame around the vulva and vagina—be it labia size, discharge, hair—are so common that many times oral doesn’t even happen because the offer is refused,” says Dr. Deitsch. “Also, going down on a vulva is often viewed as either pre-game warm-up or some kind of ‘also ran.’ Rarely is it the star of the show, which is a shame because receiving oral is often the most reliable way for a woman to reach orgasm.”

Since clitoral stimulation is so crucial to achieving the big O, it’s pretty important to know what cunnilingus is, and what knowledge and techniques we can apply to improve our skills. Which is why HelloGiggles reached out to some sexperts for their insight and advice on going down. And remember: practice makes perfect.

Communication is key

“Oral, for many women, is an incredibly vulnerable act, therefore not entered into lightly,” says Dr. Deitsch. “It’s often linked with complete surrender, and that’s a wonderful gift.”

Which is why, says Dr. Deitsch, communication is likely the most important part of oral sex. “This is a highly individual act, and pretty much no two vulvas are the same in terms of making them feel good,” she says. “It’s not one-size-fits-all when it comes to technique. Some people like gentle, broad tongue strokes, while others enjoy rapid-fire clit flicking with a few fingers for extra zest. Don’t assume what anyone knows how to do or what anyone likes.”

Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, agrees. “No two people are alike, so the most important component of any sexual experience involves communicating and really listening to your partner. I’m not an expert in their body, so many of the techniques I suggest will not be to their liking. Just because something works for 99 people, doesn’t mean it will work for the 100th.”

That’s why Dr. Deitsch recommends making a game out of it, like hot and cold, which entails asking a partner to try different things for five to 10 seconds and giving hot-warm-cool-cold feedback for each different strategy. “Offering positive feedback is better than criticizing the giver. Share what you do like, and mention you like it better than other things they have tried,” she says.

It’s all about letting go

Another key factor of cunnilingus, says Dr. Deitsch, is comfort and relaxation. “No one gets there when they are tense, so do some slow breathing, picture a lovely vista, and focus on the physical sensations,” she says.

In fact, according to Dr. Jess, because the act itself allows you the opportunity to “let go,” women tend to achieve orgasm more readily than with penetration.

“Penetration often involves an in-and-out motion, whereas oral sex often involves the rubbing and grinding required to stimulate the full clitoris—the inner legs, bulbs, shaft, foreskin, and more,” she says. “Oral sex can also be highly intimate and all of its sounds, textures, sights, and movements can help you to relax to the point that you can ‘let go’ and allow orgasm to flow.”

Some techniques to try

First things first: Don’t treat the clitoris like a doorbell.

“The clitoris is more than just its head. It has a shaft, foreskin, and inner legs, and bulbs—and it gets erections, just like a penis,” says Dr. Deitsch. “If you only press on the head, it’s the anatomical equivalent of pressing on the head of the penis and ignoring the rest of it.”

Another tip? It’s not a race. “Slow down,” she says. “Use only the backs of your hands to caress (instead of grabbing). Use your breath and gentle lips with feather-light touch and increase the pressure very gradually as arousal builds.”

Dr. Jess also recommends using lube (“it makes everything more exciting and you can engage in more techniques in multiple positions when you use the slippery stuff”) and making sure you’re both physically comfortable. When it comes to the actual act, she says it’s key to change it up—use your fingers, palm, nose, cheeks, chin, lips, tongue, face, and toys.

Specific techniques suggested by Dr. Jess include:

Breath kisses: “Breathe gentle kisses over the thighs and lips without allowing your lips to touch the surface of their skin. Drawn from the Kama Sutra, breath kisses are intended to draw awareness and circulation to the surface of the skin to build anticipation and arousal over time.”

The Pocket: “Wrap your hand right around the entire vulva. Place your palm on the pubic mound and fold your fingers over the lips. Rub. Grind. Pulse. Undulate. Pay attention to the rhythm of their hips. Open your fingers up so that you can slide a tongue inside.”

The Facial: “Get your whole face right in there. Give them something to grind against. Use your nose to press against the head of the clitoris. Slide it right into the vagina. Press your cheeks against the lips and run them up and down and side to side. Breathe. Moan. Exhale deeply so they know you’re enjoying it, too.”

Dr. Jess says it’s important for givers to “make noise and let them know you’re enjoying it. Many of us have been bombarded with negative messages about our bodies and our vulvas and vaginas, in particular. It’s not your job to ensure that your partner loves their own body, but you can help by showing appreciation and adoration.”

Perhaps the most significant thing to keep in mind about cunnilingus is that it’s okay not to like receiving it, either.

“It’s an assumption to believe that cunnilingus is the most important for any woman’s sexuality,” says Dr. Deitsch. “I know plenty of women who don’t like it at all and they experience being shamed for not liking it. Let’s not do that, either.”

Ultimately, it’s important for women to remember that it’s totally okay to ask for what you like, don’t like, or what you’re not sure of. Our sexuality is unique and personal, and meant to be explored and enjoyed.

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