Gender, Sex Q&A

Do Men And Women Find Giving And Receiving Oral Sex Equally Pleasurable?

January 26, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller


A reader asked:

“What percentage of men and women actually enjoy giving or receiving oral sex?”

Good question! Let me start by saying that oral sex has become an incredibly common sexual practice in the United States in recent years. In fact, nationally representative survey studies have routinely found that the vast majority of both men and women have engaged in this activity. For example, recent data from the National Survey of Family Growth finds that 86-87% of American adults aged 18-44 have done it at least once (see here for stats on other sexual behaviors).

When you break the data down into experiences giving versus receiving oral sex, there’s a fairly consistent pattern, such that men (compared to women) are a little more likely to have received oral sex, whereas women (compared to men) are a little more likely to have given oral sex.

In terms of men’s and women’s enjoyment of both giving and receiving oral stimulation, I had a hard time tracking down data from a nationally representative American sample; however, I did come across a recent study of nearly 900 Canadian college students that offers at least some insight into the question of whether men and women tend to experience similar levels of pleasure [1].

When it came to receiving oral sex, men and women didn’t significantly differ in ratings of pleasurability. Specifically, 97.1% of men and 95.4% of women said that receiving oral sex was at least somewhat or very pleasurable. This means that just 2.9% of men and 4.6% of women did not find it pleasurable to be orally stimulated.

However, there was a gender difference when it came to the pleasurability of giving oral sex: whereas 92.9% of men said that giving oral sex was somewhat or very pleasurable, the corresponding number for women was 82.7%. This means that 7.1% of men and 17.3% of women don’t find it pleasurable to perform oral stimulation.

It should be noted that for women—but not for men—they were more likely to say that giving oral sex was pleasurable to the extent that they also received it. In other words, women get more pleasure from giving oral sex when the act is reciprocated. However, women were more likely than men to report that oral sex was not reciprocated the last the last time they did it (perhaps due to a sexual script that prioritizes male over female pleasure). So maybe it’s the lower odds of reciprocation that explain why women find giving oral sex to be less pleasurable than men.

In sum, these data suggest that the vast majority of young men and women find both giving and receiving oral sex to be at least somewhat pleasurable. However, having a partner who is willing to reciprocate is an important factor in pleasure experienced, at least for women.

On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that, compared to men, women’s likelihood of reaching orgasm depends more on the specific sex acts that take place–and receiving oral sex in particular is linked to much higher odds that a woman will reach orgasm (for data supporting this idea, see here and here).

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[1] Wood, J. R., McKay, A., Komarnicky, T., & Milhausen, R. R. (2016). Was it good for you too?: An analysis of gender differences in oral sex practices and pleasure ratings among heterosexual Canadian university students. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 25(1), 21-29.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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