Oral Sex

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A commonly used term that usually refers to mouth-genital contacts. When the stimulation is to a woman’s clitoris or labia from her partner’s mouth or tongue it is called cunnilingus. Sexual stimulation to a man’s penis by his partner’s mouth or tongue is known as fellatio. The pleasuring of both partners simultaneously through oral sex is colloquially known as sixty-nine. These sexual acts for women and men may involve either heterosexual or homosexual partners. While oral sex was, until very recently, frequently deemed by Western culture a perversion, there is evidence from artifacts and artistic works that it seems to have been much more acceptable in antiquity. Artistic representations from Asia and other parts of the globe tend to support the view that oral sex is not an uncommon sexual act. Statues and carvings within a religious context in India and represented in the kamasutra have depicted oral sex along with many other variants of sexual activity.

Earlier sex manuals viewed oral sex as essentially a part of foreplay before penetration leading to climax and ejaculation. Today, there appears to be greater interest in the use of oral sex as a more reliable method than coitus for a man to bring a woman to orgasm. For many couples, oral sex represents just another method for sexual pleasure and the act can climax in orgasm and ejaculation without moving on to penetration of the woman by the man.

In the absence of adequate sexual education programs, most people in the past had to learn about oral sex from others, who may have been just as unknowledgeable. Urologists have reported that some women, possibly influenced by the street term for oral sex—a “blow job”—have inadvertently injured their male partners by blowing air into the urethra.

Recently, the slang expression “giving head” appears to be gaining in popularity in common parlance rather than the more formal expression, “oral sex.” The limitation of these terms to oral-genital contact appears to reflect the historical view that the norm for sex should focus on the genitals, while other forms of sexual stimulation involving the tongue or mouth and areas of the body other than genitals were not and are not considered as variants of oral sex (for example, the oral stimulation of the anal area or breast).

Most people use their mouth and tongue to kiss and lick their partner in nongenital areas. While there is no generally used term for this form of oral sex, there is an old term for kissing and licking the entire body including the genital areas: “going around the world.” The subject of oral sex is a good example of how our languages have not developed adequate and correct terminology for all aspects of human sexual behavior.

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