How to Go Down on a Woman (Cunnilingus)
Oral sex, going down on a woman, or cunnilingus (derived from the Latin words cunnus, meaning “vulva”, and lingere, meaning “to lick”), is a wonderful act that two people can share. When fully appreciated and recognized it can mean to admire, to have deep respect for, or worship the woman and the vulva. In addition, it has the added bonus of feeling divine.
Back to the Basics:
As with all styles of sex, (partner, solo, BDSM), some basic fundamentals or rules apply. We always need to make sure the sex is consensual and safe. The doors of communication should be open throughout.
Anatomy: Know It
One crucial component of getting and receiving amazing oral sex is, knowing what you are trying to please and why it feels good. Both the provider and the receiver should be able to map out a woman’s genitals and recognize the clitoris, inner and outer labia, urethral opening, and vaginal introitus.
Fear + Anxiety = No Orgasm
Relaxation + Comfort = Orgasm
A relaxed, confident woman will have a much easier time reaching orgasm than a woman who is worried about how she looks and smells.
It’s safe to say that most peoples’ early sex education memories are not of holding a hand held mirror and examining their genitals. Maybe you received little information, or maybe your genitals were labeled “No Trespassing!” Or maybe the only information you got was very medical sounding, without any way to make it connect to your body. Whatever your sex education was, very few of us were fortunate enough to have been told or shown how each and every vulva is unique and beautiful.
Lack of information and misinformation can lead to fear and embarrassment about your genitals. Many women will than compare their vulva to what is portrayed in magazines and mainstream porn and will think what they have isn’t “normal.” As a result, many women feel embarrassed about their vulvas and shy away from oral sex. In reality, vulvas come in all shapes, shades and sizes. The book Femalia is a revolutionary book, it does an amazing job of depicting the range of women’s vulvas. Pierced, not pierced, no hair, hair -- all can be seen and admired in the beautifully shot, color photograph collection. Learning to admire your or your partner’s vulva is one of the most potent aphrodisiacs, especially when it comes to cunnilingus.
Safer SexSafer sex is easy to do and important for a several reasons. If you are with someone new or have multiple partners, safer sex will protect yourself and your partners. Since many people have been exposed to sexually transmitted infections without knowing it, safer sex can protect everyone, monogamous or not.
For cunnilingus, dental dams make an excellent barrier. Dams are rectangular sheets of latex or non-latex, that can be used to cover all of the women’s vulva, anus and perineum. If you’ve never tried them, we have some useful tips on using dental dams.
To protect hands and fingers from infections that are easily spread through contact, such as herpes, wear some gloves.
Lubricant can be a great addition to oral play. It helps keep everything nice and slick. Flavored and warming lubes provide a fun flair and flavor burst when used during oral sex. Flavored lubes will work especially well with partners who are a little self conscious of their scent or taste.
Foods like honey or whipped cream can be great when used externally, but it's a good idea to avoid getting them in the vagina since they can trigger yeast infections.
Turn the Lights Down Low
If you or your partner is new to oral stimulation, or shy, setting the mood will make all the difference. Candlelight and warm bath can work wonders. The bath will relax away any reservations a wary partner may have. Men may also want to shave so they can avoid friction burns in tender places.
Have your partner recline comfortably in a big chair or in bed. If she would like added control, have her sit on your face. Place a pillow or the Liberator Wedge under her hips or have her lie near the edge of the bed so you can kneel on the floor. The more comfortable your neck is, the easier oral sex will be.
Your Rhythm is Gonna Get Her
Trying to use as many strokes as possible in the shortest period of time is not always the best approach when performing cunnilingus. Instead, concentrate on providing pleasure, excitement, and arousal by stimulating the entire vulva and slowly working up to an orgasm. Gradually work your way down from her mouth to the vulva.
- Use slow warm kisses to trace a trail to her vaginal lips
- Gently kiss and caress her inner thighs
- Make sure to repeatedly tell your partner how beautiful she and her vulva are—your words can be as important as your other techniques
Here are a few strokes that can be incorporated into your licking repertoire. Pick a few to try and stick to the ones your partner seems to enjoy. People will often find that just because one move pleased one partner, it doesn’t mean that same move will please another.
- Lick her up and down, across the vaginal opening to the hood and back down again
- Incorporate sweeping broad stokes with a flat tongue, side to side with fast, quick upward stokes, than dip back down, dipping your tongue in her vagina
- Open and close your mouth, taking in the whole vulva
- Run your tongue along the inner lips
- Gradually, incorporate more direct stimulation around and on the clitoris
- Outline circles with your tongue around the clitoral hood hood
- Try incorporating subtle sucking on the clitoral hood. This move is one that some may enjoy and some may not. You can test the waters and ask your partner if it feels good.
- Try anal stimulation ("rimming"), with a barrier. Giving partners can lick the anal opening and along the perineum. Be careful! Change gloves and dams, and wash hands thoroughly after anal play. This move will also please some but not all. Discuss anal play beforehand with a partner.
Body Language -- Read it, Become Fluent in It
Throughout the act of cunnilingus, partners play out a song and dance. Givers will need to rely on reading their partners' body language for clues indicating pleasure.
Discuss beforehand your partner's preferences. Know if your partner feels more comfortable having you ask if: something is okay, fast enough, and soft enough. Or, if she would prefer to tell you when she wants you to stay in one place or go faster. Encourage her to tell you what she likes and dislikes, and how she wants it. Or if she has trouble describing it, give her two options and ask her which feels better. You can also try something and ask her to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. The easier it is for her to tell you what works, the easier it will be for you to do it with confidence.
When your partner is too deep in rapture to speak, feel confident that clear body signals can be understood.
- The genitals will swell and flush and as she becomes more aroused
- When she approaches orgasm, she may begin to sway and rock, or bump and grind against your face.
- She may become more and more wet; secretions will flow
- Some women stop moving as their orgasm approaches
Once orgasm is inevitable, many people it is best to stay with a single stroke and continue to do whatever you are doing. Do not experiment with a new stroke -- it often interrupts her arousal.
Oral stimulation doesn't have to be limited to only using the mouth to provide stimulation -- it can be performed in conjunction with dildos, vibrating toys, and anal plugs.
- The LingO Vibrating Tongue Ring can convert any everyday tongue into an oral sex machine on a mission. This vibrator is worn around the tongue and can be worn comfortably with or without a tongue piercing.
- Any of our glass dildos can make a delightful contrast between the warm soft mouth of a lover and firm cold glass.
- How about using a butt plug for a little hands-free anal play? If you or your partner are new to it, we have some great tips on getting started with anal sex.
As long as you communicate clearly with your partner, gradually provide stimulation, listen, and tell her how beautiful she is, you can’t go wrong. And remember that practicing can be fun too!
For those sex nerds who want to know it all, check out these additional resources:
The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus
THE Sex & Pleasure Book