Fellatio
Illustration by Édouard-Henri Avril.
A woman performs fellatio on a man.

Fellatio (also known as fellation,[1] a blow job, BJ, giving head or sucking off[2]) is an act of oral stimulation of a male's penis by a sexual partner. It involves the stimulation of the penis by the use of the mouth, tongue, or throat.[2] The person who performs fellatio can be referred to as the giving partner, and the other person is the receiving partner. Fellatio is regarded by many as an erotic act in its own right and a physically intimate act. For many males, it is a turn-on which may be used by the giving partner to initiate foreplay and sexual arousal prior to sexual intercourse.[3] The act may also be performed for the sexual gratification derived by the male receiving partner and can be continued until orgasm and ejaculation of semen.

Fellatio is also sometimes practiced when sexual intercourse can create a physical difficulty for a sex partner. For example, it may be practiced during pregnancy instead of vaginal sex by couples wishing to engage in intimate sexual activity while avoiding the difficulty of vaginal intercourse during later stages of pregnancy.[4]

Some people have negative feelings or sexual inhibitions about giving or receiving oral sex, and may refuse to do so.[5] On the other hand, there are reports that some people use oral sex as a means of preserving virginity,[6][7][8] especially in the case of adolescent girls who fellate their boyfriends to create and maintain intimacy while preserving their virginity and/or avoiding pregnancy.[9][10] Other reasons given for the practice among adolescent girls are peer-group pressure and as their introduction to sexual activity.

Some people regard the receiving partner as being in a position of psychological if not physical vulnerability, and thus is potentially weaker. Bringing a person to climax is considered by some to be a form of exerting control over that person's physiology and emotions.

Contents

Etymology

The English noun fellatio comes from fellātus, which in Latin is the past participle of the verb fellāre, meaning to suck. In fellatio the -us is replaced by the -io; the declension stem ends in -ion-, which gives the suffix the form -ion (cf. French fellation). The -io(n) ending is used in English to create nouns from Latin adjectives and it can indicate a state or action wherein the Latin verb is being, or has been, performed.

Further English words have been created based on the same Latin root. A person who performs fellatio upon another may be termed a fellator. Because of Latin's gender based declension, this word may be restricted by some English speakers to describing a male. The equivalent female term is fellatrix.

Deep-throating

Deep-throating is an act in which a man's entire erect penis is inserted deep into the mouth of a partner, in such a way as to enter the receiving partner's throat.

It is difficult for most people to perform deep-throating, due to the need to suppress the natural gag reflex. Different people have different sensitivities to the reflex, but some people learn to suppress the reflex.

Cultural significance

Depiction of fellatio on Attic red-figure kylix, c. 510 BC
Oral sex depicted in the Kama Sutra.


In ancient Greece and modern Japan, fellatio has been referred to as "playing the flute"; the Kama Sutra has a chapter on auparishtaka (or oparishtaka), "mouth congress".[11]

It was reported by American anthropologist Weston La Barre that Manchu mothers used to show affection for their children by performing fellatio on their male babies, placing its penis in their mouths and stimulating it, since it was not considered a sexual act, while the Manchu regarded public kissing with revulsion, which was considered sexual.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] They were also reported to caress their children's sexual organs, tickling those of their daughters.[24][25][26]

Galienus called fellatio "lesbiari" since women of the island of Lesbos were supposed to have introduced the practice of using one's lips to give sexual pleasure.[27]

The Ancient Indian Kama Sutra, dating from the first century AD, describes oral sex,[28] discussing fellatio in great detail and only briefly mentioning cunnilingus. However, according to the Kama Sutra, fellatio is above all a characteristic of eunuchs (or, according to other translations, of effeminate homosexuals or transwomen similar to the modern Hijra of India), who use their mouths as a substitute for female genitalia.

The author states that it is also practiced by "unchaste women" but mentions widespread traditional concerns about this being a degrading or unclean practice, with known practitioners being evaded as love partners in large parts of the country. He seems to agree with these attitudes to some extent, claiming "a wise man" should not engage in that form of intercourse while acknowledging that it can be appropriate in some unspecified cases.

The religious historian Mircea Eliade speaks of a desire to transcend old age and death and achieve a state of nirvana in the Hindu practice of Tantric yoga. In Tantric yoga the same emphasis is placed on the retention and absorption of vital liquids and Sanskrit texts describe how semen must not be emitted if the yogi is to avoid falling under the law of time and death.[29]

In Islamic literature the only form of sex that is always explicitly prohibited within marriage is sex during menstrual cycles.[30] But the exact attitude towards oral sex is a subject of disagreements between modern scholars of Islam. Authorities considering it "objectionable" do so because of the contact between the supposedly impure fluids emitted during intercourse and the mouth.[31] Others emphasize there is no decisive evidence to forbid it.[32]

Moche Ceramic Depicting Fellatio. 300 A.D. Larco Museum Collection

The Moche culture of ancient Peru worshipped daily life including sexual acts. They depicted fellatio in their ceramics.[33]

Ingestion of semen

Nancy Friday's book, Men in Love - Men's Sexual Fantasies: The Triumph of Love over Rage[34] claims that swallowing ejaculate is high on the intimacy scale.

As late as 1976, some doctors were advising women in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy not to swallow semen lest it induce premature labor,[35] even though it is now known to be safe.

Semen ingestion has also had central importance in some cultures around the world. In Baruya culture, there is a secret ritual in which boys give fellatio to young males and drink their semen, in order to "re-engender themselves prior to marriage".[36] Among the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea, beginning at age seven all males regularly submit to oral penetration by adolescents in a six-stage initiation process, as the Sambia believe that regular ingestion of an older boy's semen is necessary for a prepubescent youth to achieve sexual maturity and masculinity. By the time he enters mid-puberty he in turn participates in passing his semen on to younger males.[37] [38]

Pregnancy

Fellatio alone cannot result in pregnancy, as there is no way for sperm from the penis to enter the uterus and fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg orally. In humans, there is no connection between the gastrointestinal system and the reproductive tract. Sperm is killed and broken down by acid in the stomach and digestive enzymes in the small intestine.

Link to reducing pre-eclampsia & miscarriage risks

It has been suggested that fellatio may, through "immune modulation",[39] have a beneficial role in preventing dangerous complications during pregnancy, reducing specifically the risk of miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. Specifically, several research groups[40] have reported that pre-eclampsia, a life threatening complication that sometimes arises in pregnancy, is much less frequent in couples who have practiced oral sex, and even more rare in couples where fellatio regularly ended with a woman's swallowing of her partner's semen.

The results were statistically significant and are consistent with the fact that semen contains several agents that have important roles in the prevention of pre-eclampsia, which may arise out of an immunological condition.[39][41][42] According to that view, preeclampsia is caused by a failure of the mother to accept the fetus and placenta, which both contain "foreign" proteins from the father's genes.

Regular exposure to the father's semen helps cause immunological tolerance to their proteins. Other studies also found that, while any exposure to the partner's sperm during sex appears to decrease the chances of various disorders, women in couples who have practiced "sex acts other than intercourse" are less than half as likely to suffer preeclampsia.

The studies noted that it would be impossible to assume conclusively the likely protective effect of the "other sex acts" including oral sex, or that the correlation between these sexual practices was due to the presence of collinearity induced by some other protective factor not noted in the studies: for example, greater overall frequency of sex.[39] The standard way to resolve such confounding questions in medical science would be through a randomized trial, but there are unique challenges to research in sexual health.[43]

STD risk

Chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis (multiple strains), and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can be transmitted through oral sex.[44]

Any kind of sexual contact with bodily fluids of a person infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, poses a risk of infection. The risk from most of these types of infection, however, is generally considered far lower than that associated with vaginal or anal sex.[45][46]

If the receiving partner has wounds on his genitals, or if the giving partner has wounds or open sores on or in his or her mouth, or bleeding gums, this poses an increased risk of STD transmission. Brushing the teeth, flossing, undergoing dental work, or eating crunchy foods such as potato chips relatively soon before or after giving fellatio can also increase the risk of transmission, because all of these activities can cause small scratches in the lining of the mouth.

These wounds, even when they are microscopic, increase the chances of contracting STDs that can be transmitted orally under these conditions. Such contact can also lead to more mundane infections from common bacteria and viruses found in, around and secreted from the genital regions. Because of this, some medical professionals advise the use of condoms when performing or receiving fellatio with a partner whose STD status is unknown. Flavored condoms may be used for this purpose.

HPV and oral cancer link

In 2006, a research study at Malmö University's Faculty of Odontology suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with HPV might increase the risk of oral cancer. The study found that 36 percent of the cancer patients had HPV compared to only 1 percent of the healthy control group.[47]

Another recent study suggests a correlation between oral sex and throat cancer. It is believed that this is due to the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV).

The study concludes that people who had one to five oral-sex partners in their lifetime had approximately a doubled risk of throat cancer compared with those who never engaged in this activity and those with more than five oral-sex partners had a 250 percent increased risk.[48]

Legality

In Malaysia, fellatio is still illegal. However, the law is seldom enforced. Under Section 377A of the Penal Code, the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of another person is considered a "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and is punishable with imprisonment of 20 years maximum and whipping.[49]

The Uniform Code of Military Justice for the United States Military makes oral and anal sex illegal, with sentences of up to 5 years if the sex partner is 16 years of age or older, and 20 years if under 16.

Other species

Female bats perform fellatio to increase copulation time. This species is the only non-primate known to exhibit this behaviour.[50]

The fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx, has been observed to engage in fellatio during mating. Pairs spend more time copulating if the female licks the male than if she does not.[50][51]

See also

References

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • fellatio — A sexual act in which a male places his penis into the mouth of another person. Dictionary from West s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. fellatio A sexual act in which a male places his penis into the mouth …   Law dictionary

  • fellatio — 1887, from L. fellatus, pp. of fellare to suck, from PIE root *dhe(i) (see FECUND (Cf. fecund)). The sexual partner performing fellatio is a fellator; if female, a fellatrice or fellatrix …   Etymology dictionary

  • fellatio — fel*la ti*o (f[e^]l*l[=a] sh[=e]*[ o]; f[e^]l*l[=a] t[=e]*[ o]), n. a form of sexual activity between two persons in which the penis of one is stimulated by the other s mouth, especially until orgasm is achieved. It is a form of oral sex. Compare …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fellatio — /fe l:atsjo/ s.f. [voce pseudolat., der. di fellare succhiare ], invar. [stimolazione orale dell organo sessuale maschile] ▶◀ coito orale, (volg.) bocchino, fellazione, (volg.) pompino. ‖ cunnilingio, cunnilingus. ⇑ sesso orale …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • fellatio — /lat. felˈlattsjo/ s. f. inv. coito orale, irrumazione (med., dir.), bocchino (volg.), pompino (volg.) …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • fellatio — ► NOUN ▪ oral stimulation of a man s penis. DERIVATIVES fellate verb. ORIGIN Latin, from fellare to suck …   English terms dictionary

  • fellatio — [fə lā′shō, fə lā′shē ō΄] n. [ModL < L fellatus, pp. of fellare, to suck < IE base * dhē : see FEMALE] a sexual activity involving oral contact with the penis …   English World dictionary

  • Fellatio — Zeichnerische Darstellung von Fellatio Die Fellatio (lat. fellare „saugen“) ist eine Form des Oralverkehrs, bei der der Penis durch Mund, Zunge und Lippen – beim sogenannten Deepthroating auch durch die Rachenregion – des Sexualpartners… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • fellatio — fellation [felɑsjɔ̃; fɛllɑsjɔ̃] ou fellatio [felɑsjo; fɛllɑsjo] n. f. ÉTYM. Attesté XXe; lat. fellatio, du supin de fellare « sucer », « têter ». ❖ ♦ Didact. Acte sexuel consistant à exciter les parti …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Fellatio — Oralverkehr an den männlichen Geschlechtsorganen; Blasen (umgangssprachlich); französischer Sex (umgangssprachlich); Oralsex; Lecken (umgangssprachlich); Oralverkehr * * * Fel|la|tio 〈[ tsjo] f.; ; unz.〉 Reizung der männl. Geschlechtsteile mit… …   Universal-Lexikon

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