Oral sex

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Painting of a man performing oral sex on a woman Achille Deveria erotism.jpg
Painting of a man performing oral sex on a woman

Oral sex, sometimes referred to as oral intercourse, is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a person by another person using the mouth (including the lips, tongue, or teeth) and the throat. Cunnilingus is oral sex performed on the vulva or vagina, while fellatio is oral sex performed on the penis. [1] [2] Anilingus, another form of oral sex, is oral stimulation of the anus. [1] Oral stimulation of other parts of the body, such as by kissing or licking, is not considered oral sex.

Contents

Oral sex may be performed as foreplay to incite sexual arousal before other sexual activities (such as vaginal or anal intercourse), [1] [3] or as an erotic and physically intimate act in its own right. [1] [2] Like most forms of sexual activity, oral sex can pose a risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). However, the transmission risk for oral sex, especially HIV transmission, is significantly lower than for vaginal or anal sex. [4] [5] [6]

Oral sex is often regarded as taboo, [1] but most countries do not have laws which ban the practice. Commonly, people do not regard oral sex as affecting the virginity of either partner, though opinions on the matter vary. [7] [8] [9] [10] People may also have negative feelings or sexual inhibitions about giving or receiving oral sex, or may flatly refuse to engage in the practice. [1]

Practice

Female performing fellatio Wiki-fellatio.png
Female performing fellatio

Oral sex may be practiced by people of any sexual orientation.

Sexual variants

Facesitting is a form of oral sex in which the receiver sits on the giver's face and pushes into it with his or her genitals. Oral sex can also be performed by both partners at the same time in the so-called "sixty-nine" position. Spitting and/or swallowing of the ejaculatory fluids or giving a pearl necklace may cause different sexual stimulations. Autofellatio is a possible but rare variant; autocunnilingus may also be possible for women with extremely flexible spines.

An act of group sex restricted to one woman giving oral sex to several men is referred to as a gangsuck, blowbang or lineup, all derivatives of the slang term gang bang for group sex. Bukkake and gokkun may also involve oral sex.

Preserving virginity

A 17th century sculpture depicting a woman performing oral sex on two men. From the wall of the Umamaheshwor Temple at Kritipur. Umamaheshwor Temple-IMG 4035.jpg
A 17th century sculpture depicting a woman performing oral sex on two men. From the wall of the Umamaheshwor Temple at Kritipur.

Oral sex is commonly used as a means of preserving virginity, especially among heterosexual pairings; this is sometimes termed technical virginity (which additionally includes anal sex, mutual masturbation and other non-penetrative sex acts, but excludes penile-vaginal sex). [7] [8] [9] [11] The concept of "technical virginity" or sexual abstinence through oral sex is popular among teenagers. [12] [13]

Gay males who regard oral sex as a way of maintaining their virginities view penile-anal penetration as resulting in virginity loss, while other gay males may define oral sex as their main form of sexual activity. [7] [14] By contrast, lesbian pairings commonly view oral sex or fingering as resulting in virginity loss, though definitions of virginity loss vary among lesbians as well. [7] [10] [15]

Contraception and safe sex

Oral sex alone cannot result in pregnancy and heterosexual couples may perform oral sex as their method of contraception. [2] [16] [17] For conception to take place, sperm from the penis must enter the uterus and fallopian tubes and fertilize the female's egg. In humans, there is no connection between the gastrointestinal system and the reproductive system, [nb 1] and sperm ingested by the woman would be killed and broken down by acids in her stomach and proteins in the small intestine. The breakdown products are then absorbed as a negligible quantity of nutrients. However, there is a potential risk of pregnancy if semen comes in contact with the vaginal area in some way, such as semen in the ejaculate finding its way onto fingers, hands, or other body parts, which then comes in contact with the vaginal area.

Oral sex is not necessarily an effective method of preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), although some forms of STIs are believed to be less commonly spread in this way, and oral sex has been recommended as a form of safe sex. [18] [19] [20] In the United States, no barrier methods for use during oral sex have been evaluated as effective by the Food and Drug Administration. [21] However, a barrier protection like a condom for fellatio or dental dam for cunnilingus can offer some protection from contact when practicing oral sex. [13]

Oral sex should be limited to the protected areas. A makeshift dental dam can be made out of a condom [22] or a latex or nitrile glove, [23] but using a real dental dam is seen as preferable; this is because real dental dams cover a larger area, avoid accidents caused by "slipping" outside the covered area, and avoid the risk that makeshift versions may be accidentally damaged or poked with the scissors during the cutting procedure. Plastic wrap may also be used as a barrier during oral sex, but there exists no conclusive scientific research regarding how effective it may or may not be at preventing disease transmission. Certain kinds of plastic wrap are manufactured to be microwaveable and are designed to have pores that open when heated, but there also exists no scientific research on what effect, if any, this has on disease transmission when used during oral sex. [24] Some people complain that the thickness of the plastic dulls sensation.

Prevalence

A report issued in September 2005 by the National Center for Health Statistics was the basis of an article in the September 26, 2005 issue of Time magazine. The report comes from the results of a computer-administered survey of over 12,000 Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, and states that over half the teenagers questioned have had oral sex. While some headlines have interpreted this as evidence that oral sex among teenagers is "on the rise", this was the first comprehensive study of its kind to examine the matter. [25] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in 2009: "Studies indicate that oral sex is commonly practiced by sexually active male-female and same-gender couples of various ages, including adolescents." [13] Research also indicates that "males are more likely than females to have received oral sex, whereas equal proportions of men and women have given oral sex." [1]

Health risks and other studies

Sexually transmitted infections

Chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis (multiple strains), and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), can be transmitted through oral sex. [4] [5] [26] [27] Any sexual exchange of bodily fluids with a person infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, poses a risk of infection. Risk of STI infection, however, is generally considered significantly lower for oral sex than for vaginal or anal sex, with HIV transmission considered the lowest risk with regard to oral sex. [5] [6] [28] [29]

There is an increased risk of STI transmission if the receiving partner has wounds on his or her genitals, or if the giving partner has wounds or open sores on or in his or her mouth, or bleeding gums. [5] [6] [13] Brushing the teeth, flossing, undergoing dental work soon before or after performing oral sex can also increase the risk of transmission, because all of these activities can cause small scratches in the lining of the mouth. [5] [6] These wounds, even when they are microscopic, increase the chances of contracting STIs that can be transmitted orally under these conditions. [5] [6] Such contact can also lead to more mundane infections from common bacteria and viruses found in, around and secreted from the genital regions. Because of the aforementioned factors, medical sources advise the use of condoms or other effective barrier methods when performing or receiving oral sex with a partner whose STI status is unknown. [4] [5] [6] [26]

Links have been reported between oral sex and oral cancer with human papillomavirus (HPV)-infected people. In 2005, a research study at Malmö University's Faculty of Odontology suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with HPV might increase the risk of oral cancer. The study found that 36 percent of the cancer patients had HPV compared to only 1 percent of the healthy control group.

Another study in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests a correlation between oral sex and throat cancer. It is believed that this is due to the transmission of HPV, a virus that has been implicated in the majority of cervical cancers and which has been detected in throat cancer tissue in numerous studies. The study concludes that people who had one to five oral sex partners in their lifetime had approximately a doubled risk of throat cancer compared with those who never engaged in this activity and those with more than five oral sex partners had a 250 percent increased risk. [30] [31]

Miscarriage reduction

Fellatio may reduce the risk of miscarriages by inducing immunological tolerance in the woman by exposure to the proteins in her partner's semen, a process known as paternal tolerance. While any exposure to a partner's semen appears to decrease a woman's chances for the various immunological disorders that can occur during pregnancy, immunological tolerance could be most quickly established through the oral introduction and gastrointestinal absorption of semen. [32] [33] [34] Recognizing that some of the studies potentially included the presence of confounding factors, such as the possibility that women who regularly perform fellatio and swallow semen also engage in more frequent intercourse, the researchers also noted that, either way, "the data still overwhelmingly supports the main theory" behind all their studies—that repeated exposure to semen establishes the maternal immunological tolerance necessary for a safe and successful pregnancy. [34] [35]

Cultural views

Fellatio in 69 position Fellatio.png
Fellatio in 69 position

Cultural views on oral sex range from aversion to high regard. [1] It, especially fellatio, [36] has been considered taboo, or at least discouraged, in many cultures and parts of the world. [1] Laws of some jurisdictions regard oral sex as penetrative sex for the purposes of sexual offenses with regard to the act, but most countries do not have laws which ban the practice itself, in contrast to anal sex or extramarital sex.

In Ancient Rome, fellatio was considered profoundly taboo. [37] 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 perform fellatio, since that would mean that he was penetrated (controlled), whereas receiving fellatio from a woman or another man of lower social status (such as a slave or debtor) was not humiliating. The Romans regarded oral sex as being far more shameful than, for example, anal sex – known practitioners were supposed to have foul breath and were often unwelcome as guests at a dinner table. [37]

In contrast to historical views on fellatio, cunnilingus is revered as a spiritually fulfilling practice in Chinese Taoism, which regards it as having the ability to enhance longevity. [38] In modern Western culture, oral sex is widely practiced among adolescents [25] and adults. [1]

People give various reasons for their dislike of oral sex. [1] Some state that since it does not result in reproduction, it is therefore unnatural. [39] Others find it less intimate because it is not a face-to-face practice, [1] or believe that it is a humiliating or unclean practice; [1] [40] that it is humiliating or unclean are opinions that are, at least in some cases, connected with the symbolism attached to different parts of the body. [40] Opposite these views, people also believe that oral sex "is one of the most intimate behaviors that a couple can engage in because it requires total trust and vulnerability." [1]

While commonly believed that lesbian sexual practices involve cunnilingus for all women who have sex with women (WSW), some have an aversion to cunnilingus due to not liking the experience or psychological or social factors, such as finding it unclean. [41] [42] [43] [44] Other WSW believe that it is a necessity or largely defines lesbian sexual activity. [43] [44] Lesbian couples are more likely to consider a woman's dislike of cunnilingus as a problem than heterosexual couples are, and it is common for them to seek therapy to overcome inhibitions regarding it. [43]

A 19th-century depiction of cunnilingus. Detail of Edouard-Henri Avril (23).jpg
A 19th-century depiction of cunnilingus.

Terminology and slang

There are many words which refer to oral sex, including euphemisms and sexual slang. Like all aspects of sexuality, there exists a large number of variations on a theme, a few common ones being:

Other slang terms for oral sex include going down on (male or female), licking out and muff diving (female), blow job (male), dome (male or female), sucking off (male), playing the skin flute (male recipient), rolling cigars (male recipient), lolly-gagging (gay male-on-male), gaining knowledge (male recipient) and bust down (male). Forced fellatio is often called Egyptian rape or simply Egyptian; this goes back to the time of the Crusades when Mamluks were alleged to force their Christian captives to do this. [46]

Other animals

Female bats perform fellatio to increase copulation time.

Oral sex has been observed in the animal kingdom among many species. [47] [48] It has been suggested that there is an evolutionary advantage due to the tendency of primates, non-primates and humans to have oral sex. [49] Fellatio occurs with the fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx ; it has been observed when the bats are mating. These bat pairs spend more time copulating if the female licks the male than if she does not. [50] [51]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anal sex Insertion of the penis into the anus, or other sexual activity involving the anus

Anal sex or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. Other forms of anal sex include fingering, the use of sex toys for anal penetration, oral sex performed on the anus (anilingus), and pegging. Although anal sex most commonly means penile–anal penetration, sources sometimes use anal intercourse to exclusively denote penile–anal penetration, and anal sex to denote any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.

Fellatio Oral sex on the penis by a sexual partner

Fellatio is an oral sex act involving the use of the mouth or throat performed by a person on the penis of another person. Oral stimulation of the scrotum may also be termed fellatio, or colloquially as teabagging. If fellatio is performed on oneself, the act is called autofellatio.

Sexual intercourse Copulation for reproduction or sexual pleasure, or other penetrative sex acts for sexual pleasure.

Sexual intercourse is sexual activity typically involving the insertion and thrusting of the penis into the vagina for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Other forms of penetrative sexual intercourse include anal sex, oral sex, fingering, and penetration by use of a dildo. These activities involve physical intimacy between two or more individuals and are usually used among humans solely for physical or emotional pleasure and can contribute to human bonding.

Safe sex Ways to reduce the risk of acquiring STDs

Safe sex is sexual activity using methods or devices to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HIV. "Safe sex" is also sometimes referred to as safer sex or protected sex to indicate that some safe sex practices do not completely eliminate STI risks. It is also sometimes used colloquially to describe methods aimed at preventing pregnancy that may or may not also lower STI risks.

Virginity State of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse

Virginity is the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth.

Vaginal lubrication

Vaginal lubrication is a naturally produced fluid that lubricates a woman's vagina. Vaginal lubrication is always present, but production increases significantly near ovulation and during sexual arousal in anticipation of sexual intercourse. Vaginal dryness is the condition in which this lubrication is insufficient, and sometimes artificial lubricants are used to augment it. Without sufficient lubrication, sexual intercourse can be painful. The vaginal lining has no glands, and therefore the vagina must rely on other methods of lubrication. Plasma from vaginal walls due to vascular engorgement is considered to be the chief lubrication source, and the Bartholin's glands, located slightly below and to the left and right of the introitus, also secrete mucus to augment vaginal-wall secretions. Near ovulation, cervical mucus provides additional lubrication.

Sexual penetration Sexual activity that involves inserting a persons body part into another person

Sexual penetration is the insertion of a body part or other object into a body orifice, such as the vagina, anus or mouth, as part of human sexual activity or animal sexual behavior.

Frot Penis-to-penis sexual contact

Frot is a non-penetrative form of male-to-male sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact. The term was popularized by gay male activists who disparaged the practice of anal sex, but has since evolved to encompass a variety of preferences for the act, which may or may not imply particular attitudes towards other sexual activities. Owing to its non-penetrative character, frot has the safe sex advantage of minimizing the transmission risk for HIV/AIDS; however, it still carries the risk of skin-to-skin sexually transmitted infections, such as HPV and pubic lice (crabs), both of which can be transmitted even when lesions are not visible.

Mammary intercourse Sex position in which a penis is stimulated by contact with female breasts and vice versa

Mammary intercourse is a sex act, performed as either foreplay or as non-penetrative sex, that involves the stimulation of a man's penis by a woman's breasts and vice versa. It involves placing the penis between a woman's breasts and moving the penis up and down to simulate sexual penetration and to create sexual pleasure. It may be used as an alternative to a handjob.

Men who have sex with men (MSM), also known as males who have sex with males, are male persons who engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, regardless of how they identify themselves. They may identify as gay, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, or heterosexual; or dispense with sexual identification altogether.

Reproductive medicine

Reproductive medicine is a branch of medicine concerning the male and female reproductive systems. It encompasses a variety of reproductive conditions, their prevention and assessment, as well as their subsequent treatment and prognosis.

Women who have sex with women (WSW) are women who engage in sexual activities with other women, whether or not they identify themselves as lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, or dispense with sexual identification altogether. The term WSW is often used in medical literature to describe such women as a group for clinical study, without needing to consider sexual self-identity.

Non-penetrative sex Sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration

Non-penetrative sex or outercourse is sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration. It generally excludes the penetrative aspects of vaginal, anal, or oral sexual activity, but includes various forms of sexual and non-sexual activity, such as frottage, mutual masturbation, kissing, or cuddling. Some forms of non-penetrative sex, particularly when termed outercourse, include penetrative aspects, such as penetration that may result from forms of fingering or oral sex.

Lesbian sexual practices Sexual practices between women

Lesbian sexual practices are sexual activities involving women who have sex with women, regardless of their sexual orientation. A woman who has sex with another woman may identify as a lesbian if she is sexually attracted to women, or bisexual if she is not exclusively sexually attracted to women, or dispense with sexual identification altogether. The term may also be applied to a heterosexual or asexual woman who is unsure of or is exploring her sexuality.

Condom effectiveness

Condom effectiveness is how effective condoms are at preventing STDs and pregnancy. Correctly using male condoms and other barriers like female condoms and dental dams, every time, can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis. They can also provide protection against other diseases that may be transmitted through sex like Zika and Ebola. Using male or female condoms correctly, every time, can also help prevent pregnancy.

Sexually transmitted infection Infection transmitted through human sexual behavior

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that are commonly spread by sexual activity, especially vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. STIs often do not initially cause symptoms, which results in a greater risk of passing the disease on to others. Symptoms and signs of STIs may include vaginal discharge, penile discharge, ulcers on or around the genitals, and pelvic pain. STIs can be transmitted to an infant before or during childbirth, which may result in poor outcomes for the infant. Some STIs can cause infertility.

Creampie (sexual act)

Creampie is a sexual act, commonly featured in pornography, in which a male ejaculates inside his partner's vagina or anus without use of a condom, resulting in visible seeping or dripping of semen from the vagina or anus.

Handjob

A handjob is a sex act, performed as either foreplay or as non-penetrative sex, that involves the manual stimulation of a man's penis or scrotum by another person to induce an erection for sexual pleasure, sexual arousal and sometimes resulting in orgasm and ejaculation.

Cunnilingus Oral sex on the vulva or vagina by a sexual partner

Cunnilingus is an oral sex act performed by a person on the vulva or vagina of another person. The clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the human female genitalia, and its stimulation may result in a woman becoming sexually aroused or achieving orgasm.

Anilingus Stimulating the anus of another person by the use of one’s mouth

Anilingus is the oral and anal sex act in which a person stimulates the anus of another by using the mouth, including lips, tongue, or teeth. It is also called anal–oral contact and anal–oral sex, and is additionally known by slang names.

References

Explanatory notes
  1. However, this has happened in bizarre circumstances involving a stabbing.
Citations
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