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Let’s talk about cunnilingus

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“Ew, gross, it smells bad”...and other nonsense about cunnilingus and how to give oral pleasure

The word “cunnilingus” comes from the Latin cunnus, which means vulva, and lingo: to lick. It’s pretty self-explanatory: stimulation of the vulva, clit and vaginal opening with the mouth, tongue and teet...NO! No teeth allowed.


A brief history

I’m guessing you won’t have heard of Wu Zetian, so let me enlighten you. Wu Zetian was a Chinese empress from 690 to 705 AD who used her power to issue a decree stating that all visiting dignitaries had to pay their respects by giving her oral sex. Not a name you’ll be forgetting any time soon, am I right? It’s even said that by the time she turned 72 she had her own harem of men, but that’s probably just urban legend...or maybe not.

In Ancient Rome, things were somewhat different. Following the premise of power like Wu Zeitan, the Romans believed oral sex to be an act of domination and submission. Performing cunnilingus was considered dirty, but many women would sneak off to male brothels to enjoy it. Nice one, patriarchy! According to Roman hierarchy, men who ate p***y had a lower social standing than those penetrated by other men. They were therefore in the same league as prostitutes, gladiators and actors, and like them, they weren’t allowed to vote or represent themselves in court. So that’s that.

The Bible is worth a mention too. In the Song of Songs (Old Testament), there is a reference to cunnilingus, although several scholars prefer to omit the word “vulva” and replace it with “navel”. Let’s see what you think:

“Your vulva is a rounded bowl,
that never lacks wine.”

If someone wants to replace “vulva” with “navel”, let them, but from then on it doesn’t make sense. Just sayin’... I mean, the navel isn’t exactly known for its…secretions…so, please, if yours is oozing, see a doctor.

Finally, in Taoism and the quest for immortalityor longevity, at leastTaoists tried to avoid ejaculating for as long as possible, since a loss of semen equated to a loss of energy. Consequently, cunnilingus was considered an absorption of energy, as women were said to be composed of three juices: one from the mouth, one from the breasts and another from the “Grotto of the White Tiger” at the “Peak of the Purple Mushroom”. Sounds like a fairy-tale, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly how it’s written and described. Taoism seeks the original ch’i: a mixture of male and female energy before the division of the sexes. In short, the more fluids exchanged, the better.


Cunnilingus: how?

First and foremost, there needs to be consent. All parties must be in agreement. Not only that, but if at any point either person wants to stop, you stop, even if they agreed beforehand. No ifs and no buts. It’s simple. 

OK, so how do we begin? Contrary to what your limited sex education might have taught you, cunnilingus is not a precursor to anything. It’s a sexual act in its own right and there’s no order of execution. It doesn’t have to precede penetration and, likewise, there’s no reason for it to come after intercourse or any other form of sex. All you need is the desire to do it, and that doesn’t necessarily mean engaging in other acts afterwards.

The glans clitoris is incredibly sensitive, so we’d recommend starting off slow. The vulva is a large area and you can really go to town before heading for the magic love button that is the clit. Feel free to lick the inner and outer labia and move your mouth over the skin, nibbling with your lips as you go. Be gentle, but voracious. Like you want it to last but you can’t get enough. Fun fact: the clit can swell up to three times its original size during arousal, so you’ll probably know when it’s go time!

Saliva, saliva and more saliva. Don’t worry, at the risk of looking like a waterfall, prevention is better than cure. The tongue and lips need to slip and slide, avoiding unwanted friction as much as possible. The worst enemy of cunnilingus is a rough, dry tongue, because sometimes not even vaginal lubrication is on your side. Remember: keep your tongue flat, wet and soft. With that mastered, you’re halfway there.

Now, let’s talk movements. In cunnilingus, your tongue isn’t the only thing that matters, although it does offer the greatest range of movement of all the parts involved. First, you’ve got to understand that communication isn’t one-way and that your recipient will tell you—directly or indirectly—what they like best. Some people like a rhythmic motion, others like the opposite. Some want a little suction and others want A LOT. Increase the intensity of your movements in line with your recipient’s arousal, and stay constant when they’re approaching climax. Other than that, choreograph as you please.


OUR TOP TIP: Moaning and panting with your mouth on their vulva will get you extra pleasure points, not only in the auditory sense. The vibrations from your throat can be felt on their skin (cover your mouth with your hand and try talking you’ll see what I mean) and will work in your favour. Cover their entire vulva with your mouth, play with your tongue and make a sexy sound. You’ll be onto a winner.


Cunnilingus: why?

That’s easy: for pleasure. The good thing about us being hominids is that people with a vulva have their clitoris outside their bodies, at their fingertips (hehe) and within reach of a third party’s tongue (no, I’ve not heard of anyone practising autocunnilingus, but Google away...)

Nowadays, oral sex on vulvas is seen as an intimate and often incomplete act. WRONG! The level of intimacy is determined by the people involved and, as for it being incomplete, unlike fellatio where reaching orgasm is fine (sometimes the sexual encounter even ends when the man climaxes), cunnilingus is considered an appetiser, whetting our appetite before the “real” sex begins. So let’s get one thing straight: cunnilingus IS real sex. And the opportunity to break the taboo is yet another reason to try it.


Health and safety

We’re not going to waste our time talking about vulvas that smell bad. Because healthy vulvas don’t smell bad; they smell like vulvas. If you don’t like the smell, well, maybe you don’t like vulvas. Instead, we’re going to talk about the limited information available on having safe oral sex, particularly oral sex involving a mouth and vulva. 

The notion that eating p***y won’t do you any harm is falser than a Monopoly millionaire. STIs are real. They very much exist and, although the likelihood of transmission is low, the person you’re going down on could have an infection that you really don’t want to catch, regardless of how much you’re enjoying yourself.

Pharyngitis: The most common infection. The bacteria or fungus present in the receiver settles on your pharynx and infects you. Ta-da! Hope you like losing your voice. 

Herpes simplex virus: Super easy to explain. If the person has herpes, they’ll pass it on. It will erupt in your mouth and you’ll get some nasty blisters or ulcers.

HIV: Watch out if you have mouth ulcers. Human immunodeficiency virus doesn’t last long when exposed to air, but if you open a direct door to your blood it will try to enter.

HPV: Ahh, our old friend the human papilloma virus. In the UK, 90% of people have come into contact with HPV at some point in their lives and some don’t even know it. Worse still, depending on the strain, HPV infection can cause cancer. In the case of oral sex, oropharyngeal cancer. So take good care of yourself!

If you’re not going to use a barrier, make sure each of you has had a recent STI test. If not, use a dental dam to perform cunnilingus. If you can’t find one, simply snip off the end of a male condom and cut along one side to create your own. Better safe than sorry.

clit cunnilingus health pleasure sex

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