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What is oral sex, and how do you do it? Is it really sex?

Oral sex is when a person uses their mouth to sexually stimulate the genitals of another person. Oral sex performed on a person with a vagina usually means licking or sucking the clitoris and other parts of the vulva (external genitals). It’s also called cunnilingus. You’ve probably heard it called “eating out.” Oral sex performed on a person with a penis can mean sucking or licking the penis. It’s called fellatio. You’ve probably heard it called other things, like “blow job.”

Slang words can be confusing because their meanings are not always clear. For example, “blow job” has nothing to do with blowing; “eating out” does not involve chewing. And certain slang words may be offensive to some people.

There is no “right” way to perform oral sex on someone because different people enjoy different things. The specifics need to be explored by each pair of people with a little creativity and a lot of honest communication. That means you have to try different things and ask your partner what they like or don’t like.

Oral sex can give physical pleasure and orgasms, so it’s definitely a sexual behavior. Some people think oral sex is really intimate and means two people are really close to each other. Others see it as less intimate than vaginal intercourse. Everyone has to decide for themselves what values they place on each sexual behavior. The important thing is to stay true to yourself and do things that feel comfortable for you.

Oral Sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

It’s important to know the potential risks that come with any sexual behavior. STIs can be transmitted if partners are having unprotected oral sex. Some people like the idea of allowing a partner to ejaculate in their mouth or swallowing their partner’s vaginal fluids; others are completely turned off by the idea. But anytime pre-ejaculatory fluid, semen or vaginal fluids enter the body, whether through the mouth or another opening, there’s a risk of transmitting an STI if either partner has one. It’s tough to tell whether a person has an infection. Sometimes, people have infections and don’t even know it. One way to reduce your risk of an STI when giving (or receiving) oral sex is to use a latex barrier, like a flavored condom or a dental dam.

With knowledge of the risks, it’s equally important to consider your own comfort with the behavior in general. You get to decide what’s comfortable for you; don’t let a partner talk you into something that’s not OK with you. You should never feel pressured to do something in a sexual situation. If you don’t feel comfortable and safe, the experience will not be pleasant for you and will likely not be pleasant for your partner, either.

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