Oral sex consists of all those sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, tongue, etc., to stimulate the sex organs. The medical term is Irrumation (literally, "to suck").


Most people usually use euphemisms or slang terms when talking about oral sex. A common slang term for giving oral sex to either a man or woman is giving head or going down on someone. Done on the genitals of a man, it is technically called fellatio, but common slang includes blowjob, or BJ for short. Done on the genitals of a woman, it is technically called cunnilingus or in common slang, eating her out. "Cocksucker" is a severe insult and one of the "seven dirty words".


Oral sex can be a method of contraception (birth control) since pregnancy is impossible unless semen enters the vagina. Many people often choose oral sex as an alternative to intercourse for this reason.

While some people are turned off by the idea, many others find oral sex very pleasurable and use it even when avoiding pregnancy is not a concern, sometimes as part of foreplay.

Not only are the sexual organs sensitive and well supplied with nerve endings, the same is true of the mouth, tongue and lips, so the pleasures of oral sex are not limited to the person on the receiving end.



The term "blowjob" is misleading, as blowing is not normally part of fellatio. A common technique is to take the glans of the erect penis in the mouth while rhythmically caressing the rest of the penis with the hands; the testes and the shaft of the penis can also be licked with the tongue.

Depending on the preference of the participants, this stimulation will produce an orgasm and ejaculation of semen which in some cases is swallowed.

A rarer technique is Deep Throat, popularized by a pornographic movie of the same name. It involves taking the entire erect penis in the mouth.

A small percentage of men have the penis length and/or body flexibility to fellate themselves, or to autofellate.


Again, one should not blow while performing cunnilingus; this can indeed be dangerous. The vulva and especially the clitoris are kissed or licked with the tongue.

Comedian Sam Kinison, in an infamous stand-up routine, suggested licking the letters of the alphabet during cunnilingus.


Oral sex can be performed by both partners at the same time in a "sixty-nine" position, named after the shape of the Arabic numeral 69.


The receiver of fellatio or cunnilingus may find it very pleasurable if the giver hums or sings at the same time. This in effect makes the giver's mouth into a vibrator, though unlike a mechanical vibrator the mouth has built-in lubricant (saliva) and it is infinitely finely adjustable.

Health issues

Semen contains water and small amounts of salt, protein, and fructose sugar.

Medical doctors, therefore, deem semen to be neither inherently toxic nor in any way dangerous in the mouth or when swallowed. The female sexual fluids are likewise, in and of themselves, deemed to be inherently harmless. Partners should be careful not to bite or scratch with the teeth harder than desired.

It is possible for the inside of the mouth to be bruised by the penis if oral sex is too rough.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Although widely considered to be much safer than vaginal or anal sex, chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, other sexually transmitted diseases and possibly even HIV can be transmitted through oral sex. It should be stressed, that any kind of direct contact with the sexual fluids of a person infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, should be avoided. Furthermore, oral sex should be avoided when the performer has wounds, sores, or bleeding gums in the mouth, or has brushed, flossed, undergone dental work, or eaten crunchy foods such as potato chips, all of which can cause small scratches in the lining of the mouth. These wounds, even when they are microscopic, increases the chance of contracting STDss which normally aren't transmitted orally and also can lead to more mundane infections from common bacteria and viruses found in, around and secreted from the genital regions. Because of this, many doctors advise the use of condoms in the performance of fellatio (flavoured condoms are available for this purpose) and the use of plastic or latex sheets (dental dams or ordinary plastic wrap) for cunnilingus.

Air embolism

If air is blown strongly into the vagina of a pregnant woman, there is a slight chance that an air bubble can enter the women's circulatory system through the placenta and cause an embolism which could lead to death. There are very few reports of this in the medical literature, and it is regarded as a rare condition. However, lightly blowing onto the vulva is both pleasurable and perfectly safe.


Oral sex has been considered to be taboo to a greater or lesser extent in many Western countries since the beginning of the Middle Ages. In the West before that time, and within certain constraints, the act of oral sex was a more or less widely accepted activity in those cultures that practiced regular and consistent bathing.

Even then there were still notable taboos: 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). Under this system, it was considered to be abhorrent for a male to be in any way penetrated (read: be controlled) by another person of lower social standing during sex. This same logic also allowed a man to receive fellatio from a woman or another man of lower social status (such as a slave or debtor), because the man would be directing the actions of the person of lower rank.

Oddly to the modern mind, cunnilingus was sometimes perceived to be a passive, and therefore shameful act for any man to perform and oral sex between members of low social standing groups was considered superfluous and was often viewed as taboo. Therefore in direct contradiction to the modern view, in the patriarchal Roman mind, performing any type of oral sex was considered to be a passive (as in submissive) act while receiving oral sex was viewed as an active (as in controlling) act. [1]

Oral sex is still nominally illegal in some jurisdictions (often under sodomy laws) in western countries and is expressly illegal in many other nations. However, these laws often expressly target same sex couples or are used only against same sex couples. Matters of definition entered prominently into the 1998 Lewinsky scandal, when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton stated publicly "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" even though he had repeatedly received oral sex from Monica Lewinsky.


  • Kaiser RT. Air embolism death of a pregnant woman secondary to orogenital sex. Acad Emerg Med. 1994 Nov-Dec;1(6):555-8.
  • Hill BF, Jones JS. Venous air embolism following orogenital sex during pregnancy. Am J Emerg Med. 1993 Mar;11(2):155-7.