Oral Sex

Picture of mouth

What makes oral sex so appealing and what are the most common fears about it? What are the names for oral sex and how to talk about it. Learn what not to do and what to do if you feel embarrassed about oral sex

Oral sex

Oral sex features in many of our fantasies, but for lots of people it's still taboo. Relationships counselor Suzie Hayman looks at the deep-seated reasons we shy away from even suggesting this intimate act, and puts forward sensitive ways to approach the subject.

Common fears

Some people are reluctant to try oral sex, or even to suggest it, because they fear rejection. Disgust also plays a part, as lots of men and women are brought up to consider their genitals to be unsavory.

Women might be convinced their partners will find their labia too big, too wrinkled or too hairy; men, that they'll be laughed at for not being sufficiently big, upright or straight.

Both may be scared the other will object to the smell or the taste, and that they'll feel vulnerable if they surrender themselves to being given pleasure by their partner.

But the truth is that many people would really like to offer to perform oral sex for their partner. (If you find it hard to raise the subject, try the exercises on, 'I'd like you to...')

What makes oral sex so appealing?

The fact that this form of pleasure is still seen by some as forbidden, and even a bit dirty, adds excitement. When your partner chooses to be in such intimate contact, it's like being told that, far from being unattractive, you're good enough and special enough to eat. It can feel like the ultimate expression of acceptance.

There's something irresistible about being treated in this way. Even though you can do it to each other at the same time, it's usually a case of one person lying back and having all their desires and needs attended to.

The mouth, lips, and tongue have a dynamite combination of flexibility and softness that can't help but please. You can kiss, lick, suck or nibble. Some people prefer gentle movements; others prefer firmer attention. It's up to you to discover your particular preferences together.

Talk about it

Discussing your concerns with your partner can really help. For example, if one person is happy to perform oral sex but refuses to receive it, the other might end up feeling guilty, because he's unable to return the pleasure he experiences to his partner, as well as rejected and untrusted.

Of course, it could be that the first partner is afraid to let him see, taste, smell and touch her, and perhaps simply needs to hear in no uncertain terms, "I love your body. I'd give anything to taste you."

Don't cover up

If you'd like to try oral sex with your partner, it's only courteous to make sure you're clean first. But don't forget that the natural taste and smell of your body may well be what attracts them the most, so don't cover up with perfumes or deodorant.

Many people are turned on by the sight, taste and smell of their partner's most intimate parts. If it's a new partner, it's advisable to use a condom or dental dam (thin latex that lines the mouth) to screen secretions and prevent infection.

If you feel embarrassed

Try it after a bath or shower. When you're clean and fresh, you'll feel more comfortable. Worried about the way you look? Dimming the lights and lighting candles can boost your confidence.

Names for oral sex

  • Oral sex is often known as a sioxante-neuf or sixty-nine, because of the shape two bodies make when lying mouth-to-genitals.
  • When one person performs oral sex on another, this is sometimes called a 'sixty-eight' ("You do me and I'll owe you one").
  • Stimulation of the vagina with the mouth is called cunnilingus; stimulation of the penis with the mouth is called fellatio.

What not to do

Although oral sex is known as a 'blow job', the one thing you should never do is blow into your partner's body. You could cause an embolism (obstruction of an artery by an air bubble) or infection. But many people like their partner to blow gently on skin made damp by licking.

Related Information:

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 29). Oral Sex, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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