Cunnilingus. Even the word itself seems more complicated than it has to be.
But when it comes to stimulating her down there, the numbers don't lie: 30-50 per cent of women say they cannot reach an orgasm through intercourse alone. And there are 8000 nerve endings on the visible nub of the clitoris to navigate (twice as many as the penis). You do the maths.
Luckily, we're here to help, breaking down all the tips, tricks and techniques you need to wow your partner tonight in a simple six-step plan. Consider it your final oral exam.
1. Take the initiative.
Oral sex is not just foreplay anymore, explains Dr Ian Kerner, a sexuality counsellor and author of She Comes First. "It should be considered core-play." Only about 43 per cent of women can climax through penetration alone (most need direct clitoral stimulation). In order to fulfil all her needs, you'll have to put those mouth muscles to work – and the best move is to dive in eagerly. "You should let her know how much the thought of going down on her turns you on. Plant ideas into her head as to what you'd love to do to her," says Dr Yvonne Fulbright, a sexologist and author of The Best Oral Sex Ever – His Guide to Going Down. And once you're down there, Fulbright suggests "making noises, which will indicate to her that you’re into it", putting any libido-lowering insecurities she may have to rest.
WHAT SHE SAYS: "Do not go straight for the clitoris. Do some work around the general area and tease us. Get us worked up before you get to the main event." – Masha, 25
2. Be flexible.
One ex might have loved your go-to oral sex move while another woman may hate it. "No two people are alike in what turns them on, so you need to be adaptive in your techniques, positions, etc," says Fulbright. Keep an open mind when it comes to feedback – and be prepared to observe. "Watch her please herself," suggests Molly Adler, a sexuality educator at selfservetoys.com. "You will learn how she likes to be stimulated and get a great show. Get to know her body by paying attention to what she likes. And if she doesn’t know what she loves yet, figure it out together." By taking the time to experiment what works for her as you explore her body, you’ll become more focused on the overall journey instead of the orgasm outcome.
WHAT SHE SAYS: "I prefer a guy to have well-manicured clean hands without hangnails or jagged edges. Along the same lines, I think women also prefer that their man has good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth first, please!” – Megan, 35
3. Start slow, finish strong.
Arousal is a process. As women get more excited, the types of sensations desired will vacillate. "In general, you should start off light and delicate. Very rhythmic," explains Kerner. "Throughout the process, you should apply more pressure and more stimulation. What might have been uncomfortable at the beginning might be comfortable for her at the end." The most common mistake is to start rough or too intense, so warm up her entire vulva first before focusing in on the clitoris. "Once she's warmed up, bring her G-spot (which is basically the first 2.5 to five centimetres of the vagina) to life while massaging her clitoris with the tip of your tongue," suggests Fullbright, adding that you should become familiar with all of her erogenous zones. The trick is to indirectly stimulate body parts that can become overly sensitive, like rubbing her mons pubis to give her clitoris a breather.
4. Let her do some of the work.
Reading a woman's body language is the best way to monitor the amount of pressure and speed you should use – and she can help you set the pace. "You don't necessarily want to make like a cobra by going super fast or getting super fancy with your swirls. But you want to apply a point of resistance," says Kerner, noting that – just as when a woman is on top during intercourse – you can allow her to control movement and pressure as you go down on her. And, of course, it helps to pay attention to what she's doing up above. Nonverbal cues, like a squeeze of your hand, clenching the sheets or running her fingers through your hair, are easy to follow. "If she is responding with excitement to what you are doing, keep doing it. Not harder or faster, just exactly the same way," says Adler.
WHAT SHE SAYS: "Don't be afraid to play with the clit. Even a little (very light) biting is welcome to me." – Yvette, 25
WHAT SHE SAYS: "When your tongue is on my clitoris, nod your head back and forth as if you're saying yes. But don't obsessively slob, spit or salivate." – Dema, 35
5. Use your fingers as extra instruments.
When combined with direct clitoral stimulation, finger action is the key to turning a little G-spot teasing into a full-blown orgasm. As you lick her clitoris with your tongue, "slowly and gently insert a well-lubed – and well-coiffed – finger into the vaginal canal," suggests Adler. "Curve your fingers upward while maintaining direct clitoral stimulation, either with your tongue or a vibrator. Then move your fingers gently in and out of her vaginal canal while pressing firmly upward." The response will be explosive.
WHAT SHE SAYS: "I think at least 50 per cent of oral sex should be good hand-work. Fingers can go deeper than a tongue, and the use of hands gives the guy’s mouth a break so he doesn’t get too tired too quickly." – Melissa, 39
6. Mix up positions.
"The preferred position is going to be very individual, boiling down to her comfort with the action and how much she wants to be in charge, versus being a more laidback receiver," explains Fulbright. "Being on her back gives her less control over what’s being stimulated and with what kind of intensity, while '69' can have her less focused on her own reactions as she tries to pleasure her partner." In general, the more a position exposes her clitoris, the greater the sensations and intensity of the action she’ll experience.
WHAT SHE SAYS: "It helps to know the roadmap! But if you're feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, you can always slow down and ask for directions." – Amanda, 35