Getting up close and personal with someone else’s genitals can be a bit intimidating. Chances are, unless you’re banging your clone, they’re gonna look, feel, smell, taste, and react differently than yours. And that’s okay! Every person is different. Don’t use past experiences to judge what your current partner will find pleasurable. Instead, use their verbal and bodily cues to tell you what they like and don’t like. Sex is all about figuring things out, and that’s what this guide is here to help you do.

I surveyed some vulva owners and asked them what they would want a potential partner to know before going down on them. Here are their tips.

Step 1

Get. Consent.

Does your partner know what kinds of sexual acts you’re planning on engaging in, and what the risks of those acts are? Do they know about any infections you could transmit to them if you both engage in this sexual encounter? Have you both considered adequate forms of protection to prevent the transmission of STIs, like a dental dam? Are they participating in this sexual act of their own volition, without being pressured, coerced, lied to, manipulated, or threatened? Do they seem excited for you to eat them out?

If you said “Yes” to all of the above, then hooray! You’re ready to move on to Step 2!

If you said “No” to any of the above, stop right now. Correct the situation: make sure you have their full consent before you proceed to get down and dirty. If you don’t receive their consent, it’s time to pull back. Either engage in activities your partner does consent to, or stop the sexual encounter entirely. Remember, your sexual gratification is never more important than someone else’s safety and bodily autonomy.

Step 2

Make sure everything is good and slippery.

There’s nothing worse than a dry finger rubbing furiously against your clit. Get that shit wet first. If your partner isn’t producing enough natural lubrication, either use some store-bought lube to make sure your fingers slide easily against your partner’s vulva, or get a big ol’ gob of spit on your fingers. Either works.

Every vulva produces a different amount of lubrication. Some might produce so much lubrication that they soak the sheets, and some might not produce any at all. The same vulva might produce different amounts of lube depending on the day. That’s all normal. Don’t use the amount of lube someone produces to judge whether or not they want sex. If you want to know if your partner is ready for a sexual encounter, ask them.

Step 3

Start gently.

Every vulva is equipped with different nerve endings: some are super sensitive, some are less sensitive. Until you know how sensitive your partner’s bits are, try starting gently. As you stimulate you partner, the amount of pressure that feels good to them will increase.

Use your fingers, tongue, or lips to gently explore your partner’s vulva. Circle their vaginal entrance, suck on or gently bite their labia, stroke their clitoris lightly. Spend time using different amounts of pressure and different motions on the various parts of your partner’s vulva. Pay careful attention to their body language and verbal cues. Once you find a spot they like, hang out there for a while.

Step 4

Experiment with your tongue.

It’s easy to freeze up in the moment and just do one thing with your tongue. Don’t do that. There’s no hurry here.

Instead, try making different shapes and movements with your tongue to see what your partner likes best. It’s good to start with light pressure by making long, broad strokes with a flattened tongue. This distributes pressure widely across your partner’s vulva. If you stiffen your tongue into a point, it’ll concentrate all the pressure in one area. Switch back and forth to see what your partner prefers.

Continue licking and flicking your tongue in different directions, using your partner’s cues to guide you.

Step 5

Use your fingers.

At this point, if your partner is responding enthusiastically to everything you’re doing, it’s time to start using your fingers. But first, remember: everyone is comfortable with different degrees of penetration. Make sure that you establish consent with your partner before you go sticking your fingers inside of them.

If your partner has given you the go-ahead, start by inserting one finger into their vagina. Make sure your finger and/or your partner’s vagina are properly lubricated—penetration is not comfortable or enjoyable without lubrication.

If your partner enjoys having one finger inside of them, you can try increasing the number of fingers you use slowly, making sure to check in with them each time before you insert another finger.

So once you’ve got your fingers inside your partner, what do you do? There are a few different movements you can make with your fingers. You can curl your fingers inwards so that they press against the top of your partner’s vagina. Or you can flutter your fingers alternately, like a pair of scissors. Or you can drive your fingers in and out of your partner’s vagina, sort of like penetrative sex. But be careful, if you insert your fingers too deep and hit resistance, back off. This means you’ve hit your partner’s cervix, and some people find that very painful.

Step 6

Keep going!

Now that you’ve tried a bunch of different motions and degrees of pressure, try finding a consistent rhythm that your partner responds to enthusiastically. Then just roll with it. Keep going until one of you is ready to stop.

This guide is just an introduction to all the fun things you can do while eating someone out. Don’t be afraid to go off script and try new things together—that’s half the fun! Last of all, remember that sex should be pleasurable for everyone involved. Going down on someone shouldn’t be a chore, it should be a joy to give them pleasure. If eating your partner out isn’t an act that you or your partner enjoy, be honest with each other and choose a different sexual act that you’ll both enjoy.


References: Moen, Erika, and Nolan, Matthew, “How to Eat Pussy,” Oh Joy Sex Toy, 25 Mar. 2014,; NAGOSKI, EMILY, COME AS YOU ARE: THE SURPRISING NEW SCIENCE THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR SEX LIFE, SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2015.