Whether you participate in oral sex as foreplay before penetrative sex or as the main event in your sexual adventure, it can be an incredibly satisfying and pleasurable act to engage in with your partner(s). Of course, having a few oral sex tips at your disposal certainly won't hurt matters, either. Some have argued that oral sex is actually more intimate than penetrative sex, seeing as it requires you to get close to one of the most personal parts of a person's body. It’s not every day that you have your face in someone’s lap, after all.

But there’s something deeper than body placement that can make this specific sex act so enjoyable, too. Unless you’re participating in mutual oral sex, like in a 69 sex position, it’s typical that only one person is getting off at a time. That can be a seriously vulnerable position for anyone to be in, whether they’re giving or receiving. And since it’s such a vulnerable position, it can make it that much easier to feel closer, more connected, and more intimate with your partner(s). Then again, there's a chance it brings up a number insecurities, too. How do you tell your partner what you like? And how do you figure out if your partner is liking what you’re doing to them?

Successful oral sex isn't just about achieving orgasm — it's about growing intimacy, gaining sexual confidence, and giving both your partner and yourself a gratifying experience. It can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. With a few simple tips, you can master the oral sex game. These helpful hints will turn any sack session into a fun and steamy experience, so grab your partner and some lubrication and get started.

1. Consent is the most important thing, period.

Before you get down to anything, it’s important to remember the golden rule: No sex without consent. Yes, even oral sex. Some people are just flat-out uninterested in receiving or giving oral sex — and that’s completely fine. It’s important to respect your partner’s wishes above all else. So no pushing heads down and no begging. If the answer is no, respect it and move on.

2. Have a conversation before.

The best time to have a chat about what you like and dislike about sex, oral or penetrative, is when your clothes are still on. This allows you and your partner to have a discussion that isn’t coercive or cloaked in any kind of pressure. Go over what you like, what you dislike, any fantasies you’re interested in, or anything that is an absolute no-go. That way, when you guys are in the heat of the moment, everyone knows the rules.

Just keep in mind that any discussions pre-sex does not negate any changes that may occur during sex. If someone revokes consent during sex, then everything should come to a complete and immediate stop. A pre-sex "yes" does not negate a during-sex "no."

3. Encouragement is essential.

Some people consider oral sex to be unhygienic or shameful, and that stigma can prevent others from enjoying the act. As Gigi Engle, a certified sexologist and the author of All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life points out, it doesn't help that there an entire industry devoted to selling products that "freshen up" vulvas and vaginas, as though they're inherently unsanitary. "Since these negative attitudes abound, be sure your partner knows how much you want to give them oral sex," she tells Woman's Day. "Be open about how hot they are and how good they taste. Making them feel comfortable (and sexy) in their body will help them relax." And of course, someone who's relaxed is more likely to experience orgasm.

4. Get in the right frame of mind.

If you go into oral sex treating it like a chore, then it's likely not going to be fun for anyone. "The first thing you need to do is reframe from, 'I have to give oral sex,' to, 'I get to give oral sex,'" Goody Howard, sexologist, educator, and intimacy consultant, tells Woman's Day. According to Howard, the best way to get yourself in the mood is to get a song in your head. "Pick a song that makes you feel powerful and beautiful and strong," she suggests. "It could be country, it could be trap, it could be gospel — whatever makes you feel confident." That song will also give you a rhythm with which to perform and can help you keep your breath under control. Pro tip: Humming the melody of the song into your partner's body will give them some really good vibrations.

5. Don’t be ashamed of inexperience.

It’s totally fine to not know what you like or to not know how to have oral sex. In fact, some of the most satisfying sexual experiences are exploratory ones. Be open to your partner(s) about your experience, so that everyone can be on the same page. And don’t feel like you have to dive in to the deep end right off the bat.

oral sex tips
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6. Start slow and uses all five senses.

Ease yourself in, especially if you’re new to oral sex. It can be difficult to respond to direct, intense stimuli right off the bat, so tickle and tease a little bit. "I think we should approach all types of sex more sensually," Howard says. "When you live sensually, you experience sex through all five of your senses. You're thinking about the firmness of the penis against the softness of the mouth or the feeling of the clitoris against the texture of the lips."

Maybe lick the head of your partner’s penis before you take them fully into your mouth. Or use your fingers on your partner’s clitoris before you start licking and sucking. Take a moment to appreciate the way your partner smells and the rhythm of their breath, and oral sex will feel like the sensual act it is, not just as sexual one.

7. Listen and look for non-verbal cues.

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it can be hard for the person receiving the oral sex to speak up about what they’re feeling. That’s why it’s so important for the person giving the oral to listen and look for non-verbal cues. "If they're pushing into your face and moaning, you can be pretty sure what you’re doing is working," Engle says. "But if they're pulling away or dead silent, try something else." And if you can't figure out how they're feeling, then don't hesitate to ask! As Engle says, "Communication is lubrication."

8. Use your hands, too.

If your partner has a penis, work their shaft in tandem with your mouth sucking on their head. It creates a longer surface of stimulation, which can be incredibly tantalizing to some. If your partner has a clit and a vulva, don’t be afraid to rub their clit with your thumb in between sucks. Or, insert a few fingers into their vagina while you’re sucking their clit, and massage their g-spot. It’s the spongy membrane on the inside of their vagina, directly under the mons. Use two fingers in a come-hither motion to slowly work this sensitive spot.

oral sex tips
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9. Moisture is your friend.

Whether it be spit or lubricant, use a lot of it. Nothing kills the mood like sandpaper friction during oral sex. And while Howard recommends the use of flavored lube, she advises people to "stay out the kitchen" when it comes to oral sex. "I know it's fun and people think they're getting creative, but if oral sex transitions to insertive sex, you're going to challenge every pH of every genital," she says.

FYI, when the pH level of your vagina is thrown off, it can lead to itching, burning, unpleasant odor, or unusual discharge, which doesn't really make that food play seem worth it — especially since yeast feeds on refined sugar.

10. When in doubt, find a consistent rhythm.

Engle says there are three key factors to keep in mind while performing oral sex: rhythm, style, and movement. While giving can be a bit overwhelming, Engle suggests finding a consistent rhythm and motion as you get started. Once you settle into a comfortable rhythm, you might be feeling confident enough to switch things up a bit.

11. Don’t forget to add some variety.

Once your partner is properly worked up, try adding in a little variety. If your partner has a penis, try taking it deeply into your throat (if you’re comfortable) and then quickly change to short, head-centric sucking. If your partner has a clitoris, alternate between tickling the sensitive spot with the tip of your tongue and sucking it. "You can try moving up and down over the clitoris, left to right, or in a figure eight motion," Engle suggests. "The clitoris is the center of everything — but don't be afraid to engage the entire vulva, such as the inner and outer labia and the mons pubis. A little tongue action can also be very hot for those who enjoy it, as the entrance to the vagina is packed with nerve-endings."

oral sex tips
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12. Experiment with toys.

One of the best ways to spice up oral sex is by incorporating a toy, and Howard's recommendation is a bullet vibrator. "You can insert the bullet into the anus while performing fellatio or cunnilingus, you can insert it into the vaginal canal and then perform cunnilingus on the vulva, you can hold it under the balls while performing oral sex on the penis — the options are unlimited."

13. Ask your partner(s) what they like.

According to Engle, showing interest in what brings your partner(s) pleasure is a huge turn-on. After all, every person’s body is different and may enjoy being stimulated in a variety of ways. Engle says simply asking your partner what they like can help you figure out what makes them feel good (and it also makes for some titillating dirty talk). "You are not a mind-reader. Don’t pretend you can see into the oral sex crystal ball," Engle says. "Ask and then do exactly what they say. If they aren't sure what they likes… well, then there is plenty of room for experimentation."

14. Give directions.

Any partner who you have going down on you should be a partner you trust to take your directions as an adult, period. So don’t be afraid to tell your partner if something just isn’t working for you, and yes, you can do this in a sexy, encouraging way so as not to break the mood.

15. Make some noise.

As Engle points out, you're not in a movie theater — when you're downtown, go ahead and make some noise! "We often get into our heads and think, 'Am I taking too long? I wish I could hurry this up and orgasm,'" Engle says. "They want to know that you want to be down there." Let your partner know that you're a willing and excited participant with moans and compliments, because your enthusiasm will likely turn both you and your SO on.

16. Remember that orgasm is not the only goal.

In general, society tends to be a little orgasm-obsessed. Oral sex is a great way to pleasure your partner without worrying about getting them off, so focus on the journey, and not the destination. Use it as a way to learn about your partner’s pleasure and your own, because as Howard says, "Oral sex is performance art." And if you do orgasm? Well, that’s just a cherry on top.

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Headshot of Corinne Sullivan
Corinne Sullivan

Corinne Sullivan is an Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers a variety of beats, including lifestyle, entertainment, relationships, shopping, and more. She can tell you everything you need to know about the love lives of A-listers, the coziest bedsheets, and the sex toys actually worth your $$$. She is also the author of the 2018 novel Indecent. Follow her on Instagram for cute pics of her pup and bébé.