Whether you call it going down, giving a blowjob, eating out, or you’re fancy and use the terms cunnilingus and fellatio, you're not alone if you love oral sex. One study found that 73% of cis men and 68.9% of cis women found receiving oral sex "very pleasurable," and another 24.1% of cis men and 26.5% of cis women found it "somewhat pleasurable." A lot of people also love giving oral sex. That same study found that 52.3% of men and 28.1% of women found it very pleasurable, with another 40.6% of men and 54.6% of women finding it somewhat pleasurable.
That said, as these numbers indicate, you're also not alone if you don't love oral sex — giving or receiving. Some people hate it. Others could take it or leave it. Some might prefer another kind of sex, whether that be manual stimulation, vaginal sex, anal sex, using a sex toy, or something else. If you don’t love receiving oral sex, that’s totally fine. There are plenty of other things to do in bed.
When it comes to oral sex, there is a gender and sexuality gap, according to research. While partners of any gender and sexuality can feel differently about the frequency they'd like to give and receive oral sex, various studies have indicated this discrepancy is most common for women dating men. That study about oral sex and pleasure we mentioned before? Well, it also found only 44% of women received oral sex from their partner in their last sexual encounter, compared to 63% of men.
Another study, this one from 2018, looked at differences in frequency of orgasm in straight, bisexual, lesbian, and gay men and women. The study found that out of everyone surveyed, straight women were having the fewest orgasms: 65% of straight women orgasmed almost every time they had sex, compared to 66% of bisexual women, 86% of lesbian women, 88% of bisexual men, 89% of gay men, and 95% of straight men. One major reason for this orgasm gap? Straight men were giving oral sex far less frequently than any other group.
Remember that viral story about DJ Khaled refusing to go down on his wife because, “It’s different rules for men. You gotta understand, we the king”? Well, unfortunately, it seems like DJ Khaled is not alone in this misguided belief.
But although women who date men are most likely to be in this situation, partners of any gender and sexuality can find that they have different desires when it comes to oral sex. The point is, everyone deserves to ask for exactly what they want. If you do love receiving oral sex, or you would like to try it, you should be able to talk to your partner about your desires. With that in mind, we put together some suggestions for how to start this conversation.
Make It Hot
Combining your suggestion with dirty talk is probably the most fun way to go about it. Tell your partner something like, “I keep fantasizing about you going down on me" or, "I can't stop thinking about what it would feel like for you to eat me out." Do whatever feels most natural to you. As Julia Bennett, the director of learning strategy at Planned Parenthood, previously told Refinery29, "There’s no right way to ask. There are lots of ways we can talk about sex.”
Because the sex scenes we see in porn and movies are so seamlessly (and wordlessly) choreographed, it's easy to forget that it's totally normal to make suggestions during sex. You can simply be direct. During sex, you could say something as simple as, “Would you go down on me?” If you’ve already given your partner oral during the encounter, you could even suggest, “My turn?” If your partner is into it, then great. If not, respect their boundaries and don't pressure or push. Consent is mandatory, of course, and it only counts when it's freely given.
How To Have A Bigger Conversation
Let's say your partner isn't as interested in oral as you are, or maybe they're super into receiving but not giving, or maybe you just simply want to have this conversation well before things get hot and heavy — whatever the case may be, the discussion doesn't have to be restricted to the bedroom. In fact, it's really healthy for your sex life to be an ongoing discussion — one that takes place outside the bedroom, when you’re fully clothed. You might tell your partner, “I really love receiving oral sex. Would you be open to trying it?” You could also say something like, “It’s hard for me to orgasm without oral sex. How would you feel about going down on me more often?”
You don't want to sound accusing here. As Rachel Needle, PsyD, previously told Refinery29, "Start off with something positive about your relationship, including your sexual relationship. Use feeling words and 'I' statements, [so you don't put] your partner on the defensive."
Try to go into this conversation with an open mind. If your partner has reservations about giving you oral sex, listen to what their concerns are. Have they experienced trauma around oral sex in the past? Learning where they’re coming from could might make you feel open to focusing on other sexual activities instead — maybe using a sex toy designed to mimic oral sex. Are they worried about STIs? You could suggest getting tested together and using a barrier method during oral. Are they nervous about getting it “wrong”? You can reassure them that you’ll let them know what feels good, and maybe tell them what you like before beginning.
So, You've Talked — Now What?
If you’ve talked about oral sex openly and honestly, and your partner still isn’t open to the idea, then what? Ultimately, you need to respect your partner’s boundaries. But — especially if this is part of a larger pattern of your partner neglecting your desires and needs — you might decide that you’d like to look for a partner you’re more sexually compatible with. Sex is an important part of a relationship, after all. Only you can decide what's best for you.