Oral sex

Oral sex
An artistic portrayal of an act performed on a woman, furtively while a formal party is in progress

Oral sex is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a sex partner by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on females while fellatio refer to oral sex performed on males. Anilingus refers to oral stimulation of a person's anus. Oral stimulation of other parts of the body (as in kissing and licking) is usually not considered oral sex.

People may engage in oral sex as part of foreplay before sexual intercourse, during, or as intercourse.



Sexual variants

Facesitting is a form of oral sex in which the receiver sits on the giver's face and pushes into it with his or her genitals. Oral sex can be performed by both partners at the same time in the so-called "sixty-nine" position.

Spitting and/or swallowing of the ejaculatory fluids or giving a pearl necklace may cause different sexual stimulations.

Autofellatio is a possible but rare variant; autocunnilingus may also be possible for women with extremely flexible spines.

An act of group sex restricted to one woman giving oral sex to several men is referred to as a gangsuck, blowbang or lineup, all derivatives of the slang expression gang bang for group sex. Bukkake and gokkun may also involve oral sex, though not necessarily.

Contraception and safe sex

Oral sex may be practiced by people of all sexual orientations. In heterosexual contexts, oral sex is used by some couples as a method of contraception and may be chosen as an alternative to vaginal intercourse for this reason. Oral sex alone cannot result in pregnancy.[1] Under any normal circumstances, there is no way for sperm from the penis to enter the uterus and Fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg; in humans, there is no connection between the gastrointestinal system and the reproductive tract.[nb 1] Ingested sperm will be killed and broken down by acid in the stomach and proteins in the small intestine. The breakdown products will be absorbed as a negligible quantity of nutrients. However, the act does carry a potential risk of pregnancy if semen from the man comes in contact with the vaginal area indirectly. This can occur if the semen in the ejaculate is carried on the fingers, hands, or other body parts; and comes in contact with the vaginal area. It is therefore still necessary to exercise caution when having oral sex to prevent pregnancy.

Oral sexual activities are not necessarily effective methods of preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), although some forms of STD are believed to be less easily spread in this way, and oral sex has been recommended as a form of safe sex.[2][3][4] In the US, no barrier methods for use during oral sex have been evaluated as effective by the Food and Drug Administration.[5] However, a barrier protection like a condom for fellatio or dental dam for cunnilingus can offer some protection from contact when practicing oral sex.[6] Oral contact should be limited to the protected areas. A makeshift dental dam can be made out of a condom[7] or a latex or nitrile glove.[8] However using a real dental dam is seen as preferable because real dental dams cover a larger area, avoid accidents caused by "slipping" outside the covered area, and avoid the risk that makeshift versions may be accidentally damaged or poked with the scissors during the cutting procedure. Plastic wrap may also be used as a barrier during oral sex, but there exists no conclusive scientific research regarding how effective it may or may not be at preventing disease transmission.[9] Certain kinds of plastic wrap are manufactured to be microwaveable and are designed to have pores that open when heated, but there also exists no scientific research on what effect, if any, this has on disease transmission when used during oral sex.[10] Some people complain that the thickness of the plastic dulls sensation.

A report issued in September 2005 by the National Center for Health Statistics was the basis of an article in the September 26, 2005, issue of Time magazine. The report comes from the results of a computer-administered survey of over 12,000 Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, and states that over half the teenagers questioned have had oral sex. While some headlines have interpreted this as evidence that oral sex among teenagers is "on the rise", this was the first comprehensive study of its kind to examine the matter.[11]

Preserving virginity

Among heterosexuals in particular, oral sex is often regarded as "third base" and is usually viewed as preserving male or female virginity, due to its non-procreative nature. This is especially exercised in the case of female virginity, as oral sex (which can be penetrative or non-penetrative) may leave the hymen intact. Among sexually active heterosexuals, the concept of "technical virginity", which includes oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation and other non-penetrative acts, is conceived as resting solely on penile-vaginal penetration.[12][13][14][15][16][17] Since the early 1990s, "technical virginity" has been popular among teenagers.[12][17] Additionally, gay males may consider oral sex to be "technical virginity" in comparison to anal penetration.[18]

Health risks and other studies


Chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis (multiple strains), and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)—including HIV—can be transmitted through oral sex.[19] While the exact risk of transmitting HIV through oral sex is unknown, it is generally thought to be lower than other sex practices.[20] The risks from most of these types of infections are generally considered far less than those associated with vaginal or anal sex.[2][3][4]

If the receiving partner has wounds or open sores on their genitals, or if the giving partner has wounds or open sores on or in their 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 chips relatively soon before or after giving oral sex 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.

HPV and oral cancer link

In 2005, a research study at the College of Malmö in Sweden 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.[21]

Another recent study suggests a correlation between oral sex and head and neck cancer. It is believed that this is due to the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that has been implicated in the majority of cervical cancers and which has been detected in throat cancer tissue in numerous studies. The New England Journal of Medicine study concluded 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% increased risk.[22][23]

Miscarriage reduction

Oral sex is correlated with reducing the risk of miscarriages by inducing immunological tolerance to the proteins in sperm, a process known as paternal tolerance. While any exposure to a partner's semen during sexual activity appears to decrease a woman's chances for the various immunological disorders that can occur during pregnancy, immunological tolerance could be most quickly established through oral introduction and gastrointestinal absorption of semen.[24][25] Recognizing that some of the studies potentially included the presence of confounding factors, such as the possibility that women who regularly perform oral sex and swallow semen also engage in more frequent intercourse, the researchers also noted that, either way, "the data still overwhelmingly supports the main theory" behind all their studies—that repeated exposure to semen establishes the maternal immunological tolerance necessary for a safe and successful pregnancy.[25][26]

Cultural attitudes

Fellatio in 69 position

Cultural attitudes towards oral sex range from disgust to reverence: in Ancient Rome, fellatio was considered profoundly taboo,[27] whereas in Chinese Taoism, cunnilingus is revered as a spiritually fulfilling practice that is believed to enhance longevity.[28] In modern Western culture, oral sex is widely practiced among adolescents[11] and adults.

Oral sex had been considered to be a taboo or at least frowned upon in many cultures and parts of the world.[29] People give various reasons for this. Some say that this sexual act does not lead to procreation and is therefore not natural.[30] Others claim that it is a humiliating and/or unclean practice (an opinion that is, at least in some cases, connected with the symbolism attached to different parts of the body).[31] This has been more or less the case in Christian and Sub-Saharan African cultures, and Ancient Rome. Similar lines of reasoning have been espoused by some modern religious authorities in Islamic cultures[citation needed].

Cunnilingus, or oral sex performed on a woman. Drawing by Francesco Hayez

It has been observed that animals of many species engage in oral sex.[32][33][34] The desire to explore something with our mouths is very easy to observe as an intuitive and natural impulse. It has also been suggested that there is an evolutionary advantage due to the tendency of primates, non-primates and humans to have oral sex.[35] There is some anthropological evidence for cunnilingus as a widespread activity amongst Australian aboriginals.[36]

In pre-Christian Ancient Rome, sexual acts were generally seen through the prism of submission and control. This is apparent in the two Latin words for the act: irrumare (to penetrate orally), and fellare (to be penetrated orally)[citation needed]. Under this system, it was considered to be abhorrent for a male to perform fellatio, since that would mean that he was penetrated (controlled), whereas receiving fellatio from a woman or another man of lower social status (such as a slave or debtor) was not humiliating. The Romans regarded oral sex as being far more shameful than, for example, anal sex – known practitioners were supposed to have foul breath and were often unwelcome as guests at a dinner table.[27]

Terminology and slang

There are many words describing oral sex, including euphemisms and slang. Like all aspects of sexuality, there exists a very large number of variations on a theme, a few common ones are given here:

  • Giving head – A common slang term for giving oral sex to either a man or woman is "giving head", from the term "head job" (in contrast to "hand job", manual stimulation). A play on the slang term "head" resulted in the slang term "brains", or "brain salad surgery", "domes" or "getting domes."[37]
  • Plate – A once common British rhyming slang for "fellate" that arose in the gay slang language of Polari that spread in the 1960s. The term is less common today.[38][dead link]
  • Cunnilingus is also sometimes referred to as "muff diving", "eating out" or "poon-job", a slang term and a cunnilingus variant of "blow job", where "poon" is short for poontang or punani.
  • Additionally, in lesbian culture several common slang terms used are "carpet munching", "giving lip", "lip service" or "tipping the velvet" (a faux-"Victorian" expression invented by novelist Sarah Waters).

Additional slang terms for oral sex include "going down on" (female and male), "licking out" (female), "blow job" (male), "dome" (female and male)[39]

See also


  1. ^ "Your Most Embarrassing Sex Questions Answered". http://teenadvice.about.com/od/sexuallyactive/a/sillysexqa.htm. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Geffen Testing Center's HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C Information Sheet. Accessed November 4, 2006. Archived October 19, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b University Health Center, University of Georgia, Oral Sex. Accessed November 4, 2006.
  4. ^ a b Fulbright, Yvonne K. (2003). The Hot Guide to Safer Sex. Hunter House. p. 217. ISBN 9780897934077. http://books.google.com/?id=5WI9eS2Vh_wC&pg=PA217&dq=teabagging&cd=20#v=onepage&q=. 
  5. ^ "HIV/AIDS among Women Who Have Sex With Women". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 17, 2006. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/women/resources/factsheets/wsw.htm. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  6. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Oral Sex and HIV Risk | Factsheets | CDC HIV/AIDS". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/oralsex.htm. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ "How to Make a Dental Dam Using a Condom", UCSB SexInfoOnline, February 7, 2008.
  8. ^ "How to Make Your Own Dental Dam From a Condom". http://std.about.com/od/prevention/ht/dentaldamhowto.htm. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Oral sex and plastic wrap: the CDC sandwiched between a riddle and an enigma". http://gossypiboma.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/oral-sex-and-plastic-wrap-the-cdc-sandwiched-between-a-riddle-and-an-enigma/. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Plastic Wrap and Oral Sex". http://sexuality.about.com/od/saferse1/a/plastic-wrap-oral-sex.htm. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Lemonick, Michael D.,"A Teen Twist on Sex", Time, New York, September 19, 2005.
  12. ^ a b Jayson, Sharon (October 19, 2005). "'Technical virginity' becomes part of teens' equation". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-10-19-teens-technical-virginity_x.htm. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  13. ^ Friedman, Mindy (September 20, 2005). "Sex on Tuesday: Virginity: A Fluid Issue". The Daily Californian. http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php?id=19565. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  14. ^ Uecker, Jeremy E.. Going Most of the Way: "Technical Virginity" among Young Americans. http://paa2007.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=70881. Retrieved April 30, 2007. 
  15. ^ Frederic C. Wood (1968, Digitized July 23, 2008). Sex and the new morality. Association Press, 1968/Original from the University of Michigan. pp. 157 pages. http://books.google.com/?id=sIpqAAAAMAAJ&q=Technical+virginity&dq=Technical+virginity. 
  16. ^ Richard D. McAnulty, M. Michele Burnette (2000). Exploring human sexuality: making healthy decisions. Allyn and Bacon. pp. 692 pages. ISBN 0205195199, 9780205195190. 
  17. ^ a b Mark Regnerus (2007). "The Technical Virginity Debate: Is Oral Sex Really Sex?". Forbidden fruit: sex & religion in the lives of American teenagers. Oxford University Press US. pp. 290 pages. ISBN 0195320948, 9780195320947. http://books.google.com/books?id=F-Qu-FCNHBYC&pg=PA167&dq=Technical+virginity#v=onepage&q=Technical%20virginity&f=false. 
  18. ^ Joseph Gross, Michael (2003). Like a Virgin. pp. 104 pages, Page 44. 0001-8996. http://books.google.com/?id=eWQEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA44&dq=Gay+men+who+prefer+anal+sex#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  19. ^ University Health Center | Sexual Health | Oral Sex
  20. ^ Campo J, Perea MA, del Romero J, Cano J, Hernando V, Bascones A (2006). "Oral transmission of HIV, reality or fiction? An update". Oral Dis 12 (3): 219–228. doi:10.1111/j.1601-0825.2005.01187.x. PMID 16700731. 
  21. ^ "Oral Sex Linked To Mouth Cancer Risk", MedIndia, November 20, 2005.
  22. ^ D'Souza G, Kreimer AR, Viscidi R et al. (2007). "Case-control study of human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer". N. Engl. J. Med. 356 (19): 1944–1956. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa065497. PMID 17494927. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=short&pmid=17494927&promo=ONFLNS19. 
  23. ^ Khamsi, Roxanne, "Oral sex can cause throat cancer", New Scientist, London, May 9, 2007.
  24. ^ Koelman CA, Coumans AB, Nijman HW, Doxiadis II, Dekker GA, Claas FH (March 2000). "Correlation between oral sex and a low incidence of preeclampsia: a role for soluble HLA in seminal fluid?". Journal of Reproductive Immunology 46 (2): 155–166. doi:10.1016/S0165-0378(99)00062-5. PMID 10706945. 
  25. ^ a b Fox, Douglas (February 9, 2002). "Gentle Persuasion". The New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17323294.200-gentle-persuasion.html. Retrieved June 17, 2007. 
  26. ^ Robertson SA, Bromfield JJ, Tremellen KP (August 2003). "Seminal 'priming' for protection from pre-eclampsia-a unifying hypothesis". Journal of Reproductive Immunology 59 (2): 253–265. doi:10.1016/S0165-0378(03)00052-4. PMID 12896827. 
  27. ^ a b "Irrumation". Sacred-texts.com. http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/priap/prp105.htm. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  28. ^ Octavio Paz (1969) Conjunctions and Disjunctions; trans. Helen R. Lane. London: Wildwood House; p. 97
  29. ^ "The History of Fellatio", Salon.com, May 22, 2000.
  30. ^ Buschmiller, Rev. Robert. "Oral Sex in Marriage". Presentation Ministries. http://www.presentationministries.com/brochures/OralSex.asp. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  31. ^ Pina-Cabral, Joao de (1992). "Tamed Violence: Genital Symbolism is Portugese popular culture". Man. N.S 28 (1): 101–120. doi:10.2307/2804438. JSTOR 2804438. 
  32. ^ Woods, Stacey Grenrock (1). "Do animals have oral sex?". Esquire. http://www.esquire.com/women/sex/ESQ1004-OCT_SEX. 
  33. ^ Min Tan; Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang, Libiao Zhang (October 28, 2009). Hosken, David. ed. "Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time". PLoS ONE 4 (10): e7595. Bibcode 2009PLoSO...4.7595T. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007595. PMC 2762080. PMID 19862320. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0007595. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  34. ^ Spain. "Valencia". Oceanografico. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ros73m7xBRA&feature=player_embedded. 
  35. ^ Brooks, Cassandra (30). A Little Fellatio Goes a long way. ScienceNOW. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2009/10/30-02.html. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  36. ^ Schidloff, B. (1935) "The Sexual Life of South Sea Natives"; in: R. Burton, ed. Venus Oceanica. New York: Oceanica Research Press; pp. 33–318; quoting p. 289"Cunnilingus is very wide-spread among all primitive peoples and from Kubary's reports on the Sonsolans, it can be seen that even the children are already prepared for this"
  37. ^ Urban Dictionary: Dome – Many examples of the word "dome" being used to refer to oral sex
  38. ^ Polari[dead link]
  39. ^ Edwardes, Allen; Masters, Robert E. L. The cradle of erotica, New York: Julian Press, 1963.


  1. ^ However this has happened in bizarre circumstances involving a stabbing

Works cited

  • James N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Johns Hopkins, 1990) ISBN 0-8018-2968-2
  • Jacqueline Franklin, The Ultimate Kiss: Oral Lovemaking, A Sensual Guide for Couples (Los Angeles: Media Press, 2001) ISBN 0-917181-17-4

External links

Health aspects

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • oral sex — n oral stimulation of the genitals: CUNNILINGUS, FELLATIO …   Medical dictionary

  • oral sex — n [U] the activity of touching someone s sex organs with the lips and tongue, to give sexual pleasure …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • oral sex — noun uncount sexual activity in which one person uses their mouth on another person s sexual organs in order to give them pleasure …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • oral sex —    cunnilingus or fellatio    Passionate kissing is not so described:     [Rachman] preferred oral sex, something that obviated the need for a bed. (S. Green, 1979)    In the same sense, oral service is not what your dentist provides …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • oral sex — noun Stimulation of the genitals using the mouth. The Beard’s climactic scene, an oral sex act, is not as startling or fresh as McClure apparently thinks. It is a continuation of the second act curtain of Albees Tiny Alice, in which Irene Worth,… …   Wiktionary

  • oral sex — N UNCOUNT Oral sex is sexual activity involving contact between a person s mouth and their partner s genitals …   English dictionary

  • oral sex — /ɒrəl ˈsɛks/ (say oruhl seks) noun sexual stimulation of the genitals with the mouth. Also, oral love; Colloquial, oral …   Australian English dictionary

  • oral sex — noun Date: 1973 oral stimulation of the genitals ; cunnilingus, fellatio …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • oral sex — noun oral stimulation of the genitals they say he gives good head • Syn: ↑head • Hypernyms: ↑perversion, ↑sexual perversion • Hyponyms: ↑cunnilingus, ↑cunnilinc …   Useful english dictionary

  • oral sex — noun (U) touching someone s sex organs with the lips and tongue, to give sexual pleasure …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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