IMO, few things in this world are sexier than oral sex (one of those few things being Harry Styles’s performance at the 2021 Grammys). However! There’s no denying that—whether you’re going down on someone or having someone go to town on you—it’s pretty damn intimate to be all up in someone’s ~private business~ for many minutes at a time. Oral sex may even make you feel straight-up uncomfy, and that’s okay! Even if you fancy yourself a fellatio aficionado or cunnilingus connoisseur (go get that watermelon sugar high!), there’s always room for improving your oral sex game, and we’re here to help.
Here’s the thing about giving head: Unless you’re participating in mutual oral sex, like in a 69 sex position, it’s typical that only one person is receiving at a time…which means there can be a lot of undue pressure to perform for the giver as well as some potential self-consciousness from being the center of attention for the recipient. But because oral sex puts both the giver and receiver in such a vulnerable position, it can make you feel that much more connected to your partner—plus, some people (especially those with clitorises) may find that it’s waaay more enjoyable than penetrative sex.
If you’re looking to both go down and eat out like a total pro, then this four-week challenge is calling your name. And we won’t just throw a bunch of tips at you (although there will be concrete advice, of course)—this “challenge” is also about becoming more comfortable with getting vulnerable *and* getting off in the process.
Over the course of this four-week challenge, you’ll learn:
How to feel more confident while performing oral sex.
Specific tips and tricks for making oral sex more pleasurable for you and your partner.
How to feel relaxed and comfortable receiving oral sex so you can fully enjoy the experience.
Which accessories you can use to kick your oral sex game up a notch.
This monthlong bootcamp is designed to help you boost your oral aptitude so that when it comes time to put your techniques into practice, you won’t be left staring down your partner’s genitalia like 😶. Remember: Successful oral sex isn’t just about knee-buckling orgasms—it’s also about growing intimacy, gaining sexual confidence, and having fun, so don’t put so much damn pressure on it, k? “People are afraid they aren’t going to be good at it, and they’re convinced that being good at it is the most important thing,” explains sex and non-monogamy educator Andre Shakti. “But in fact, the most important thing about oral sex is actually enthusiasm and being authentically enthusiastic about what you are doing.”
With each weekly task, the hope is that you become a *bit* more confident facing off with your partner’s goods—and having someone get reaaaally well-acquainted with your own. After all, if you’re feeling uneasy rather than feeling yourself, then it’s difficult (if not totally impossible!) to enjoy the moment. As Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast, says, “The key is to focus on your own pleasure first. Rather than worrying about performance or what your partner is feeling or thinking, tune into what you’re feeling in your body and do what feels pleasurable for you.”
It may also help you to keep in mind that orgasm shouldn’t be the central focus with oral sex. Whether you go down on someone during foreplay or as the main event, try to concentrate on making everyone feel good rather than making anyone come. “All we want—not just with oral sex but with any kind of sexual, intimate, erotic touch—is for our partner or partners to be loving what they’re doing to us as much as we are loving what we’re doing to them,” Shakti adds. And if it results in an orgasm, then that’s just a bonus!
Ready to become a gold-medal-winner of going down? Right this way, pls.
Week 1: Try Solo Practice
Before you start rounding third base, you’ll wanna make sure you’re t-o-t-a-l-l-y comfy with oral sex as a concept. Are you hesitant to give or receive head? Then now’s the time to figure out why. “Ask yourself what might be holding you back,” O’Reilly says. “What messages have you received about oral sex? How do these messages intersect with your identity?” If you’re a vulva owner who feels insecure while receiving oral from a man (probs because 🙃 internalized misogyny 🙃), then try to get to the root of your discomfort. Do you not like receiving oral, or do you not like worrying about how your genitals look/taste/smell while your partner’s going down on you?
If it’s the physical sensation of oral that’s overwhelming rather than feelings of self-consciousness, then you can always try having your partner eat you out while your underwear is still on so you have a barrier between you (more on that later). Using a dental dam can also help combat this problem—and it’s totally okay, too, if you find that the sensation of oral sex isn’t for you. But if you do like how it feels and you just wish you felt more relaxed while it’s happening, then getting acclimated with the feeling of oral sex on your own first may help.
The best place to start is with some experimentation. According to licensed psychologist and Modern Sex Therapy Institutes codirector Rachel Needle, PsyD, “To learn how to be a great oral sex giver, educate yourself about the human body and specific oral sex tips by reading books and articles or watching specific videos. Practice can be helpful in getting more comfortable.” And to become more at ease while receiving oral, it helps to figure out exactly what you like and need to reach the Big O.
How to do it: Are you a visual learner? Then perhaps you can try giving ethical porn a watch for tips and inspo—but watch with caution. “You can use porn as a starting point, but remember that porn is not produced for the purpose of education,” O’Reilly points out. After all, she says, porn is “produced for visual titillation,” so it doesn’t show many of the elements involved in actual sex, like conversations about consent and comfort levels or the potentially unsexy moments that can occur while getting intimate.
Shakti points out that there’s also “a really cool niche genre of explicit educational content,” pointing to websites like Kink University and Kink Academy, which have thousands of educational, erotic videos on sexual skill sets. “It blends a sexy porn scene that one could get off to—either solo or with a partner—with actual education,” she says.
You also may find tutorial videos to be of more assistance, such as O’Reilly’s Mind Blowing Oral video course or Shakti’s Blown Away: Killer Blow Jobs for All Bodies workshop. And yes, as silly as it might feel, you can practice on soft, silicone dildos and other phallic objects to build muscle memory if your partner has a penis. “Practice on a sex toy or even a popsicle,” suggests Needle. Using a frozen popsicle as a stand-in is particularly helpful, since you can tell if you’re incorporating your teeth—although, of course, some people may like the sensation of teeth, so remember to ask!
If you’re working on deep-throating and relaxing your throat during oral, Shakti recommends practicing on a banana. “Everybody’s gag reflex is different and that’s perfectly normal,” she says. “You basically have to train yourself to breathe in and out of your nose while holding your ‘yawn’ muscle in the back of your throat.” The next time you go to yawn, notice how the back of your throat flattens and opens—that is the muscle you wanna try and relax during oral.
And if your goal is to feel more relaxed in general while receiving, then it’s important to spend time focusing on your own pleasure as well, not just how you can give pleasure to a partner. As O’Reilly points out, “When you’re focused on your own pleasure, you can enjoy the experience in a more mindful and present way—and it will likely boost your confidence, which can lower inhibitions and self-consciousness.” Mindfulness apps and meditation apps can give you tips for staying present, as can tuning into your body and figuring out what feels good on your own without worrying about “performing” your pleasure for someone else.
You can even use toys that simulate oral sex—yes, really, they’re a thing—to become totally acquainted with the sensation. For those with vulvas, these clit-sucking toys are calling your name:
Best Toys for Simulating Oral Sex
Week 2: Add in Communication
Yes, giving oral sex is largely about putting your mouth to work, but a big part of that work involves communication. The first (and probs most obvious) reason why it’s important: because you’re not a mind reader. “The best way to be sure you are rocking your partner’s world with oral sex is to ask what they enjoy,” says Needle. “Communication is so important, as you can have knowledge, practice, and skills, but what is enjoyable to one isn’t necessarily what turns another on.”
Outside of asking for consent and preferences and making sure your partner feels good, communication can also fill that awkward quiet space that’s otherwise filled with…ya know, weird mouth noises (*shudders*). “Keep the communication flowing freely,” O’Reilly suggests. “Let your partner know what you like—in terms of positions, movement, rhythm, and technique.” Through encouragement, narration, feedback, and a lil dirty talk, both the giver and receiver can keep their mouths busy when they’re not sucking or screaming (sry).
How to do it: While receiving oral sex, don’t be shy! Tell your partner exactly what feels good and what you’d like them to try. According to O’Reilly, saying things such as “Hold me this way,” “Touch me here,” or “This position feels good for me” will not only ensure you have the best experience possible—it will also give your partner encouragement and guidance if they’re feeling a bit unsure themselves. It’s a win-win! And if they’re right on the money, then make sure they know it with some moans or affirmative phrases like, “Oh my god, yes,” “Right there, keep going,” or “I’m so close to coming.”
Just make sure it feels authentic to you, not performative, because faking it isn’t going to help anybody. “Make sure you authentically want to be there,” Shakti stresses. “Show that enthusiasm, whether it’s through verbal encouragement or verbal affirmations while the oral sex is happening or whether it’s through sound effects like moans, groans, and hums while you’re going down on your partner. Making enjoyable sounds while you’re authentically enjoying yourself will make your partner feel really sexy and really seen.”
Another way to make sure your partner feels seen? Ask them for their feedback while you’re performing on them. “Ask questions,” O’Reilly says. “‘How do you like that? More of this? Faster? Slower? Here or there?’ Follow the rhythm of their hips. These are primal movements that help to guide depth, speed, angles, and more.” Voicing your thoughts and feelings during oral sex will def make things more comfortable and deepen the connection between you and your partner…and if they aren’t vocal or seem to be relying more on nonverbal communication, then make sure you are watching for their response. Seeing your partner super aroused will likely be a big turn-on for you too!
Week 3: Incorporate All Five Senses
Once you’ve mastered the art of communicating during oral sex, then it’s time to add some ~flavor~. There are ways to involve all five senses while giving head, and when you get yourself out of your brain and into your sensations, then it’s easier to *actually* enjoy the moment. After all, just as we can be turned on by the smell and taste of foods, we can also be aroused by the scent and taste of our partner. “Inhibitions and the ‘disgust factor’ decline with arousal, as endorphins and feel-good hormones flood your body,” O’Reilly explains.
Yes, you may feel self-conscious about the way you smell or taste. Yes, that could be keeping you from enjoying yourself. But rather than serving as a distraction, sensory play can help both you and your partner feel more aware of your bodies and grounded in the moment…in a good way, of course. “A lot of folks, because of misinformation that has been distributed via mainstream media, think oral sex is unhygienic,” says Shakti. However! As long as you and your partner both practice good hygiene, then oral sex likely won’t taste or smell gross—and, in fact, it can feel very sexy for all five senses.
How to do it: Start utilizing all your senses during foreplay before you get into the act. “Going into your partner’s pants right away is never a great idea in oral sex,” says Tatyana Dyachenko, a sex and relationship therapist with Peaches and Screams. “Create some time for kissing, touching their boobs, or stroking them with hands to amp their sexual moods. Starting with foreplay sets the stage for explosive orgasms.” And touch isn’t the only way to get your five senses involved during foreplay.
To get your sense of taste involved, give flavored lubes or flavored condoms a try. For sight, maintain plenty of eye contact and maybe even don some sexy lingerie. For sound, play up those slurps and moans in a way that turns you right TF on or simply play a little background music. Candles can also help set the mood and offer some soothing scents. Just make sure none of the elements you introduce only serve as a distraction to the action. (Below, the sexiest playlist ever made, if we do say so ourselves.)
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Sensory play can also involve depriving yourself or your partner of one or more senses. “If the person has an issue with being the focus of attention and that’s what they’re struggling with, you can dim the lights or you can introduce a blindfold into the bedroom,” says Shakti. “Human beings are like birds—when you take away one of our senses, we become much more present to the other sense in our bodies. It can often calm us.”
Another trick you can try: If you find the physical sensation of oral too much to handle, then try having your partner go down on you while your underwear is still on. “Tell them to try going down on your underwear in the same way they would eat you out without the underwear being there, just now you have this barrier,” Shakti adds. “That can help kind of dull physical sensation, so that it can be more pleasure to experience and it won’t be too physically overwhelming.”
There are plenty of ways to play with how oral feels and looks, but if your biggest priority is playing around with how oral sex tastes, then you’ll wanna add these accessories to your cart:
Best Flavored Lubes and Condoms
Week 4: Introduce Accessories
Speaking of accessories! Once you’ve got the basics of oral sex down and you’re feeling confident enough to multitask, then you can try adding in some accessories. As Dyachenko explains, “Although your tongue can get the job done, throwing toys and accessories into the mix can be a great idea. Toys and accessories for better oral sex include sex pillows, butt plugs, lubes, edible underwear, and love rings.” And they aren’t only great for using on the partner who’s receiving oral sex—they’re an awesome way for the giver to keep their head (heh) in the game too.
Whether used on your partner or on yourself, sex toys like anal beads, vibrators, and prostate massagers can help bring you to orgasm or even get you off in a way that oral sex alone just can’t. “Toys can be used to deepen the sensation, increase presence, and prolong the orgasm,” O’Reilly explains. And while you probably shouldn’t incorporate toys until you feel ready to handle the extra challenge, they can make a big ol’ difference for your sex game.
How to do it: Again, oral sex is better for everyone involved if both the giver and the receiver are aroused, and that’s where toys come in to play. “You might use a vibrating ring like the We-Vibe Pivot to intensify sensations around the base of the penis,” O’Reilly suggests. “Or you may play with rumbly, deep vibrations against the perineum to stimulate the inner spongy bulb of the penis using an extended ring like the We-Vibe Verge.” According to her, you can also alternate between your mouth and a suction toy, like the Lovehoney Blowmotion Real Feel Masturbator, or repurpose a bullet or lay-on vibe, like the Romp Wave Lay-On, to add some good vibes to the mix.
When you’re the one giving oral sex, make sure your needs are met as well with the help of hands-free toys or vibes. As O’Reilly adds, “Do you want to rub and grind while you’re down between their legs? Go for it. Would you rather wear a vibrating toy? Embrace it.” Your partner can’t always take you to pleasure town on their own, but you can still take charge of your own pleasure with a few helpful accessories (although remember: If neither of you reaches orgasm, it’s not the end of the world).
Way to go—you’re officially a pro!
Now go show ’em what you’ve got.