The Art of Oral Pleasure: Techniques for Mind-Blowing Pleasure for Both Partners
Sexual Wellness

The Art of Oral Pleasure: Techniques for Mind-Blowing Pleasure for Both Partners

Created on 23/08/2023
Updated on 23/08/2023

Giving head, tossing the salad, eating pussy — whatever you call it and whatever type you do, oral sex isn’t just “foreplay”, it’s an art unto itself.

That being said, many of us feel extra pressure to perform oral sex superbly well…but we don’t always know how. As a sex educator who works with adults, I get countless questions every year about how to improve one’s experience both giving and receiving oral sex. 

Those questions cover a huge variety of topics, from “is it safe to use lube during oral” (yes, generally) to “how do I relax my mind while receiving?”

That’s where this guide comes in. 

As always, the foundation of any pleasurable sexual experience is good communication. So once you and your partners have talked about what you like, don’t like, and are curious to try, use these tips to elevate your oral sex experiences from “meh” to mouthwatering. 

Don’t Go Straight for the Genitals 

If you take one piece of advice from this article, let it be this: If you’re going down on someone, never just flop straight down to their genitals. 

Oral sex is best served warmed up — meaning that everyone will have a better time if you’ve paid attention to other parts of the body beforehand. This can help increase blood flow to the genitals, which in turn increases sensitivity and responsiveness

The entire body has erotic potential, so treat it like the treasure trove it is. Feeling stuck and in need of inspiration? Here are some things to try: 

  • Have a long makeout-and-grind session before clothes ever come off.
  • Kiss, lick, and suck along the body, including the ear lobes, neck, nipples, hip bones, inner thighs, toes, fingers — it all can feel good. (Just ask your partner beforehand about the areas they enjoy and that are off-limits).
  • Tease your partner with a minute or two of oral, then go back to focusing on other parts of their body for a bit.
  • Sip on some ice cold water or let an ice cube melt in your mouth, then kiss all over your partner’s body. 

No matter how many movies or porn scenes depict using whipped cream, honey, chocolate syrup, or other sweet and sticky treats during sex, I don’t recommend putting them onto your genitals. 

Sugar-laden foods can disrupt the genital microbiome, so instead of topping your partner’s genitals like an ice cream sundae, focus your sweet efforts on the non-genital areas of their body (like nipples or thighs). It can be a fun way to elongate your sexual experience! Just make sure to rinse your mouth out with water before you move onto their genitals. 

Focus on the Sensations 

When it comes to oral sex, both the giver and receiver might struggle with one thing: staying present and enjoying the experience. 

For the receiver, it can be hard to let go of the things we are stressed or feeling self-conscious about. We might have an internal monologue running saying “What if I taste bad? Are my pubes too ________? What if I can’t orgasm? Do I look weird from this angle?” 

On the other hand, the giver might be worrying about their technique, the ergonomics of oral sex, if their mouth is wet enough, if their mouth is too wet, and if they look weird from that angle.

Releasing those worries might just be the biggest obstacle between ourselves and pleasurable sexual experiences.  

So, whether you’re the giver or receiver, try these techniques to bring your focus back to your body and what you’re experiencing. 

Close your eyes.

Watching ourselves receive pleasure can be incredibly hot — but if you’re someone who struggles to appreciate your body and accept how it looks, you might have a hard time with watching yourself during sex. After all, it’s a completely different lens from how we typically see ourselves. So, close your eyes or use a blindfold.

Temporarily restricting your sense of sight can help you become more focused on the sensations you’re experiencing, and you may find that you’re more willing to speak up for what you want. (This can apply to the giver, too, BTW. Use your hands, tongue, and mouth to get a map of your partner’s body, and use their feedback to guide the rest!)

Focus on the sensations, not the thoughts.

If your thoughts are telling you “I don’t like this” or “I’m uncomfortable” then by all means, listen to them! But if they’re just chatting away at you and you’re feeling annoyed by them, intentionally practice focusing on how your body feels. You might ask yourself to pay attention to the sensation of receiving or giving for 30 seconds, then describe what it feels like to yourself. This can also help you make micro adjustments to continue to improve your pleasure.

Do a “warm up.”

If you’re someone who enjoys oral, but worries about if they smell or taste sweaty, there’s a simple solution – rinse off beforehand! You might hop into the shower or even use a bidet to freshen up. We’ll talk more about scented products and why I don’t recommend using them in a bit, but if freshness is on your mind, it’s okay to take a quick break and freshen up.

Do your household chores weigh your mind down? Set a lower threshold for yourself — like starting with a freshly made bed or making sure lunches are packed for the next day — and ask your partner to help you get there.

Explore your dis/comfort receiving pleasure.

Okay, admittedly, this one is a challenge — and it’s not a strategy to incorporate in the moment. Instead, this is something to focus on outside of sexy time to help you strengthen your sexual experiences. Many of us have been socialized to be caretakers, always attentive to other people’s needs and desires. That can make lying back and being the sole focus of pleasure really, really challenging, because it’s a muscle that you’re not used to using!

That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to receive pleasure. It just means that you might have to be more intentional about reminding yourself that you’re allowed to receive it. 

If you find that you’re often overwhelmed by your senses during sex, set the stage to support you from the start. Maybe fuzzy blankets bother you, so you want to make sure that the sheets are smooth. Or, maybe you’re overwhelmed by smells, so you want to hop in the shower beforehand. Maybe the stickiness of bodily fluids is challenging, so you want to use barrier methods. 

Ultimately, this is about building frameworks that allow you to focus on pleasant sensations — not be overwhelmed by undesirable sensations or thoughts. 

Play with Tempo, Pressure, and Speed

Just like I wouldn’t recommend going straight for the genitals, I also wouldn’t recommend starting oral at your maximum tongue speed. It can be overstimulating to the person receiving and can quickly tire out the giver. 

Instead, start slow and build up intensity from there. You don’t have to keep increasing intensity throughout, though. You might start slow and soft, then increase pressure and speed, then have a moment of faster speed, then slow down — it’s up to you! 

Think of oral play like a song. Songs don’t keep a consistent feel to them the whole time — composers use different keys, instruments, melodies, and harmonies to tell a story within that song. Your “chorus” might be the signature moves that you know your partner reliably loves. Your “bridge” might be the transition between two types of lower-intensity play. Your intro and outro? Self-explanatory. 

You might even use background music to help guide your pace. Ultimately, this is about paying attention to the entire experience — not just pursuing an orgasm goal. 

Use a Variety of Tools and Techniques

I know that “oral sex” implies that you’re only using your mouth, but let’s be real — you have more than one tool in your toolbelt. When I say “tools”, I mean body parts, techniques, and toys that you might bring into the overall experience. 

For example, hands can be instrumental in all types of oral play! Whether you’re stroking the base of someone’s penis, massaging their outer labia, or lightly caressing the perineum, your hands can majorly complement what your mouth is doing. 

Here are some tools (other than your own body parts) you might use to elevate your oral sex game: 

Consider different types of stimulation to be tools, too. For example, a firm, pointed tongue feels different than a wide, flat tongue. Deepthroating can make for a great visual, but swirling your tongue around the head of the penis while you caress the testicles can make someone swoon. 

So, try out the different tools in your toolbox — and ask your partner to teach you about the tools and techniques that they love, too! 

Relax Your Jaw 

Jaw pain during oral sex is no fun. Whether you regularly deal with TMJ or your jaw simply gets tired quickly during oral sex, mouth discomfort can really dampen the mood. 

If you have TMJ or grind your teeth at night, you may be especially prone to discomfort when you’re performing oral sex. After all, you’re experiencing jaw discomfort regularly — so why wouldn’t you experience more of it when you’re using your mouth in a less typical way? 

While jaw pain might be normal to you, it isn’t a normal thing to experience and can lead to headaches, migraines, disrupted sleep, difficulty eating, and yes, discomfort during oral sex. 

I’ll be clear: If you are experiencing jaw pain or tightness on a regular basis, reach out to your dentist. Being fitted for, and regularly using, a mouthguard at night could significantly reduce your daily discomfort, and they may even refer you to physical therapy.

To relax your jaw, try the following techniques: 

Breathe through your mouth. I know, I know. Someone, somewhere told you that if you’re going down on someone, you have to breathe through your nose. But breathing through your nose while you have your mouth open puts extra strain on your throat and jaw muscles, while breathing through your mouth can help relax those muscles. (Go ahead, try both now). Breathing through your mouth can relax you, but it can also dry out your mouth, so stay hydrated and take water breaks as needed.

Before sexy time begins, give your jaw a massage.

Drinking a hot beverage (like a cup of herbal tea) can also help relax your mouth.

Moan! While you’re going down on your partner, it’s okay to verbalize that you’re having a good time. Intermittently moaning (both with an open mouth and a closed hum) can help activate, then relax, your throat and mouth muscles.

Take breaks and make adjustments. While you might be subconsciously taking your oral sex performance tips from porn, remember that the people you watch on screen are professional performers who literally train to film the scene you watch — and even they take breaks. Oral sex doesn’t have to be a mouth-wide-open situation the whole time. You can kiss your partner’s body, use your fingers, incorporate a small toy, or even just a different type of motion or position with your mouth. Making small adjustments to your routine can increase your longevity significantly. 

Don’t Let Dry Mouth Get You Down

Having a dry mouth during oral sex can be uncomfortable for both partners, but this is one area where you can easily increase pleasure and comfort. 

First step? Hydrate. The inside of your mouth is covered in a mucous membrane, and it will let you know if it’s dehydrated. Drinking enough fluids throughout the day is the easiest way to make sure your mouth is, ahem, lubricated. 

Plenty of people experience dry mouth due to medications or other medical conditions, and simply drinking water won’t be quite enough to rehydrate the inside of your mouth. If that’s you, ask your dentist or primary care provider about oral rinses and lozenges formulated for dry mouth. 

Looking for a quicker approach? About 20-30 minutes before sex begins, suck on a sugar-free mint or candy to stimulate saliva production. 

You can also use flavored lubricants! Just be aware that some flavored lubricants have sweeteners added to them which can disrupt the vaginal microbiome. So, if you’re using flavored lube, make sure to only use it on the outside of the body — not internally. 

Your lips are part of your mouth, too, but remember that some lip balms have added ingredients that might be a little surprising to genitals. Mint/menthol, for example, can create an intense tingling sensation which might be pleasant…but also might not. So, stick with an unflavored basic lip balm to keep your lips silky smooth. 

Consider the (Very Sexy) Kinesiology of Oral Sex

Sometimes, we might not gravitate toward giving or receiving oral play because it feels hard on our bodies. 

I get it — I have hypermobility syndrome, and sometimes during sex, my hip just…pops out of place. It’s annoying and painful, but it’s also manageable, because I’ve learned how to alleviate and prevent it. 

Here’s the thing: If the way you’re engaging with oral isn’t comfortable for you or your partners, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with switching it up. 

Before we get into specifics, I’ll state the obvious: You know your body best. These are general recommendations that you can use as a starting point, but you can also modify them to fit your needs. And if you need extra support, talk with your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist about what you’re having a hard time with. 

We covered jaw pain earlier (if you skipped it, scroll up), but there are three other types of physical discomfort that people might experience during sex — neck pain, hip/lower back pain, and knee pain. This can be from arthritis, workplace strain, or other conditions. 

If you have neck pain while performing oral sex, try…

  • Using a positioning pillow under your partner’s hips to bring them closer to you without your neck needing to arch as much
  • Flipping the standard position and have the receiving partner sit on, or hover over, your face
  • Bringing your partner’s body to the edge of the bed while you kneel on the floor (feel free to use a pillow) so that you’re upright
  • Having your partner sit on the edge of a chair while you sit on the floor in front of them and go down on them 

If you have hip or lower back pain while receiving oral sex, try…

  • Placing a pillow under each of your legs to elevate them and support your knees
  • Propping your upper body up on pillows so that you’re not totally flat on your back
  • Using a sex swing, if you’re feeling adventurous! They often come with footrests to help take pressure off your body and help you feel light as a feather. 

If you experience knee pain while giving oral sex, try…

  • Lying on your side or belly
  • Investing in a thick foam cushion to put under your knees
  • 69! 

Ultimately, sex should feel pleasurable for you and your partners, and the only pain you should experience is pain that you want. So make adjustments and seek support as needed! 

Want to learn even more about outstanding oral sex? You can check out Dame’s full archive of educational articles about oral sex here.

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