Cunnilingus is the act of using the mouth, lips, and tongue to stimulate the female genitals. The clitoris is particularly noted as the most sexually sensitive part of the female genitalia. Shere Hite notes that most women achieve orgasm easily from clitoral stimulation as part of cunnilingus. The term comes from an alternative Latin word for the vulva (cunnus) and from the Latin word for tongue (lingua). A person who performs cunnilingus may be referred to as a "cunnilinguist".
As in all human sexual behaviour, both the techniques used in cunnilingus and individual responses to them are varied.
The clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the body for almost all women but may be too sensitive to pleasantly stimulate directly at times, especially in early stages of arousal. It is often best to begin with a gentler, less focused stimulation of the labia and the whole genital area. The tip, blade, or underside of the tongue can be used, as can the nose, chin, lips and, with caution, the teeth. Movements can be slow or fast, regular or erratic, firm or soft, according to the recipient's preference. The tongue can be inserted into the vagina, either stiffened or moving. Humming to cause vibration while performing cunnilingus is often considered to be especially arousing with certain pitches, rhythms, or tunes thought to be particularly effective by different people.
Cunnilingus is easily accompanied by the insertion of finger(s) or a sex toy into the vagina, which allows for the simultaneous stimulation of the g-spot, and/or into the anus. Either of which many women find can produce very intense sensations. Some sex educators recommend that cunnilingus be the major element when someone makes love to a woman--not just foreplay--but this is a personal preference. Many other activities can accompany cunnilingus to enhance overall pleasure, limited only by preference, psychology, and anatomy.
According to Philip Rawson (in Paz, p. 97), these half-poetic, half-medicinal metaphors explain the popularity of cunnilingus among the Chinese: "The practice was an excellent method of imbibing the precious feminine fluid" (Paz, p. 97). But the Taoist ideal is not just about the male being enriched by female secretions; the female also benefits from her communion with the male, a feature that has led the sinologist, Kristofer Schipper, to denounce the ancient handbooks on the "Art of the Bedroom" as embracing a "kind of glorified male vampirism" that is not truly Taoist at all. Ideally, by mingling the male and female liquids the Taoist aims to reconcile opposites and to recapture the mythical time that existed before the division of the sexes, the primordial time of the original ch'i.
The context, moving up from her sandals to her vulva to her belly to her breasts, however, makes the meaning of "vulva" (Heb. shor), as derived from an Aramaic word meaning "secret place", all but conclusive. In both Christian and Jewish tradition the erotic intimacy between the bride and groom described in the Song of Songs is given spiritual significance.
In 2005, a research study at the College of Malmö in Sweden suggested that performing unprotected oral sex on a person infected with HPV might increase the risk of oral cancer. The study found that 36% of the cancer patients had HPV compared to only 1 percent of the healthy control group.
Another recent study suggests a correlation between oral sex and throat cancer. It is believed that this is due to the transmission of human papillomavirus or (HPV) because this virus has been implicated in the majority of cervical cancers. 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% increased risk.
A Saturday Night Live skit starring Christopher Walken made word plays between the word cunnilingus and the name of a civil war colonel named "Colonel Angus" (spoken in a heavy southern accent). Walken played the colonel and other characters said such phrases as "Colonel Angus can be very messy" and "I don't really care much for Colonel Angus". Before this, the Not the Nine O'Clock News cast performed a double entendre-driven pop ballad song, "(The Memory) Kinda lingers," to the same effect.
The phrase "cunning linguist" is also often used as a pun on cunnilingus, implying oral skill of a different sort, and is used by Moneypenny to James Bond: "You’re such a cunning linguist, James, is that how you get the girls?
A Hells Angel whose colors include red wings indicates that he or she has performed cunnilingus on a woman who was having her period at the time or black wings for performing cunnilingus on a black woman.