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What Is Cunnilingus? | POPSUGAR Love & Sex

When it comes to performing cunnilingus, you’ve likely heard it all: “trace the alphabet with your tongue,” “focus on the clitoris,” “use your fingers simultaneously for dual stimulation.” And while these can all be good pieces of advice, they only begin to paint the picture of going down on someone.

The truth is, how you perform oral sex should depend entirely on your partner’s preferences — and because the vagina is a highly-pleasurable erogenous zone, you have a lot of options on how to stimulate it. This is why “it can be difficult to figure out what to do with one’s tongue and where to concentrate [your] attention,” relationship expert Laura Zam tells POPSUGAR. After all, not everyone is going to enjoy the same sensations.

For example, some people may want you to focus more on external stimulation, like using your tongue, mouth, and fingers to pleasure their clitoris or vulva. Some people might want you to focus more on internal stimulation, by fingering them or using your tongue to penetrate their vagina. Others might want it all.

Once you try a few things and become more comfortable with what you’re doing, the experience will be equally amazing for you as it is for your partner. So where do you start? Below, we include what experts recommend if you want to become the next oral-sex pro. But first, let’s start with the basics.

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What Is Cunnilingus?

Also known as “eating out” and “going down on someone,” cunnilingus can be extremely pleasurable for those with vaginas. Especially since many people are not able to orgasm from penetrative sex alone.

By definition, cunnilingus is the act of performing oral sex on a vulva or vagina. The act involves using the tongue and mouth to stimulate all parts of a partner’s clitoris, vulva, and/or vagina — but it doesn’t just stop there. Many people pair the act of cunnilingus with sex toys or fingering stimulation, as well.

How to Perform Cunnilingus

There are an infinite amount of ways to stimulate your partner during cunnilingus. The first thing to decide, though, is what position you want to do it in.”Find positions that feel comfortable for you so you can stay in them for a while and not feel tired or in pain,” Nicoletta Heidegger, licensed marriage, family, and sex therapist suggests.

For many receivers, they enjoy laying flat on their back on a comfortable surface. Others may enjoy cunnilingus from behind in a doggy-style position, while standing with their leg propped up on a surface, in the shower, or in some sort of 69 variation. (For other ideas, you can check out comfortable oral-sex positions here.)

Once you’ve decided what position you and your partner would like to be in, you can start by kissing or licking the outside of your partner’s vulva and working your way in. When you trace your tongue around your partner’s vulva, pay close attention to when they moan, when their breath eases, or if they verbally tell you something feels good, and focus on those areas.

Most people with vaginas enjoy clitoral stimulation. In fact, in a study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 37 percent of women said that they needed clitoral stimulation in addition to penetration in order to reach orgasm.

If your partner enjoys clitoral stimulation, sex educator Jimanekia Eborn suggests looking at the clitoris as your friend. “Remember that [it] has similar nerve endings to the tip of a penis. Please with pressure, tension, and breathe.”

With your tongue, you can stimulate the clitoris (or other areas of the vulva) in four different movements: up and down, side to side, in a circle, or trace words of the alphabet. You can also penetrate your partner’s vagina with your tongue, if they enjoy that. Just make sure to actively check in with your partner and ask them how they’re enjoying things and if they need more or less pressure.

“Don’t assume a one size fits all approach; see what your partner likes and let them know that you appreciate their feedback,” says Heidegger.

If you’re feeling confident you have the tongue movements down, in addition to the cunnilingus, you can simultaneously finger your partner, penetrate them with a dildo, use your fingers to gently rub their clitoris, or penetrate them with your tongue for additional stimulation.

Cunnilingus Tips and Techniques

Don’t be redundant. “Variety and surprises are key for arousal,” Zam says. She suggests varying your tongue strokes from long to short. “Lick from clitoral glans all the way down to below the vagina,” and then use shorter strokes to “cover a smaller surface area.” However, keep in mind that if your partner enjoys a certain stimulation, they may want you to be consistent in that movement and not vary the pressure or strokes. If they say “don’t stop,” they mean don’t stop — and definitely don’t change the pressure or direction of your licks.

Keep communication open. “Talk to your person before, after, or during,” Zam says. “Find out where they most like attention.” You can ask your partner things like: “Do you like direct clitoral stimulation?” “Do you like the up and down tongue movement or do you prefer something else?” and “Do you like how much pressure I’ve been using?”

Pay attention to the entire vulva. “Most people performing cunnilingus forget that there are nerve endings throughout the vulva,” Zam says. Though the clitoris is a highly pleasurable area for many, take your time exploring other erogenous zones before diving head-first there.

Try the Kivin Method. “The Kivin method is a way to perform oral sex [where the giver] is essentially sideways,” sex educator Javay Frye-Nekrasova previously told POPSUGAR. This is a great way to switch up the sensations of traditional cunnilingus since, “In this method, the person giving the oral sex is perpendicular to the receiver, forming a sort of ‘T’ shape,” as reported in a previous POPSUGAR article.

And most importantly, enjoy yourself. Giving and receiving pleasure is all about taking the time to enjoy, appreciate, and love on your and your partner’s body. Openly communicate with each other, listen to the feedback, and enjoy all the orgasms — you deserve it.



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