When I think about cunnilingus, I feel a lot of feelings. On the one hand, it can be the best thing in the whole entire world (nope, not an exaggeration at all). On the other hand, if your partner doesn't know what they're doing and isn't open to learning, it can be a miserable nightmare that warrants the throwing of nearby glassware.
To be fair though, vulvas and vaginas are tough to navigate. They're all different and they all like different things, so figuring out what each one is into can be challenging to say the least.
Will they like turbo-pressure on their clit? Or will they prefer a low-key flat tongue pressing against their vulva? Who can know until you ask or try?
Keeping that in mind, I reached out to some queer friends and experts to give me their tried and true tips to help you have a better time while you're eating out.
1. You have a whole face, use it.
Victoria, 33, host of the sex podcast Livin' and Lovin' in NYC, says that using your whole face and not just your tongue can be incredibly helpful. For example, if you're going for direct clitoral stimulation, try cupping the clit lightly between your lips while moving your head around. Your nose can also be used to provide stimulation as well, so don't be afraid to give that a shot.
2. Direct clitoral stimulation is not for everyone.
Victoria points out that not everyone wants their clit pushed like an elevator button in rush hour, so it's important to ask them if they do. Victoria explains: "For many women, their clit is just too sensitive and it will feel so intense that you'll need to stop. However, I have also encountered women who have been clear on needing extremely direct stimulation in order to achieve orgasm." Plus, it couldn't be easier to ask someone, "Do you like direct clitoral stimulation or nah?" before you start going down on them. And my guess is they'll appreciate it.
3. You can totally eat with your hands (sorry).
Victoria recommends putting a few fingers inside the vagina while you're licking or simply adding some nipple stimulation into the mix. Again, it's probably a good idea to discuss doing either one beforehand so you're not casually twisting her nipples off her body or putting in too many or too few fingers. And if you're going to insert fingers, cut your nails!
4. The clitoris is not the only part of the vulva you should care about.
Sydney, 45, says that licking around the vulva can be just as important as paying attention to the clitoris. Sydney explains: "People with penises: You would not want all your stimulation just on the head of the penis would you?" Most people with penises would probably agree that no, they would not. Keep that in mind.
5. Yes, you can add a dildo!
You don't have to be active with it (aka thrusting the dildo while going down on her) if you or they don't want to. Sydney recommends simply having the dildo inside her to give her the feeling of fullness while you're going down on her. No special moves necessary.
6. Act like you actually want to be doing this.
Kendra, 26, says she finds it super-hot when someone is really enthusiastic and clearly wants to go down on her. To communicate that, Lisa Kan, Betty Dodson-certified Bodysex instructor and Orgasm coach, recommends you "get in there and do it like you mean it." Kan adds, "Use your whole tongue, the tip, even the underside to play with sensation and direction. Lean in with your face so that the receiver can press into you and grind as much as she likes. Noses, cheeks, and chins can make delicious pressure."
7. No, dental dams aren't that complicated and they won't kill the mood.
Since you can still get STIs from oral sex, porn performer Jiz Lee, 35, recommends using a dental dam or even plain Saran-wrap (go with the non-microwavable, non-porous variety though). Lee explains: "A dental dam doesn't have to make it awkward. Some people really love the sensation of a dam against their pubic area." Plus, better awkward and safe than less-awkward and sorry.
8. Once she's coming, don't stop.
Unless she specifically tells you to stop while she's coming, Kendra recommends holding her hips in place while swirling your tongue around her vulva and fingering her. Kendra adds: "Ever hear a girl say that she came hard? That's probably how it happened."
9. If you get tired of using your mouth, it's totally OK to switch things up.
Lu, 19, says that going down on a woman can be super-tiring, especially if you're like her former partner who had "mini-orgasmic patterns, rather than one build up to one final climax." Lu says an easy way to keep up your stamina is to switch to using your hand for a little while to give your mouth a break. This way, they're still on their way to Orgasm City, but you also won't feel like you're getting lockjaw.
10. There is no one tried and true way to get every single person off.
Just because drawing circles with your tongue sent your last partner into a crazy, orgasm-filled, blissed-out state doesn't mean your current partner will dig that. Because of that, communicating with each partner as much as possible and taking note of what they're into (as opposed to relying on some kind of blueprint) is a solid call.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.