Volume 25 Issue 1, April 2016, pp. 21-29

Oral sex has become a standard component of the heterosexual sexual script, though little is known about the level of pleasure men and women experience from giving and receiving oral sex and the extent to which relationship context is associated with levels of pleasure. The purpose of this study was to investigate gender differences in giving and receiving oral sex, and associations with pleasure experienced and partner type. Participants were 899 heterosexual university students who reported on their sexual activities in their most recent sexual encounter in an online survey. Over two-thirds of participants reported that their last sexual encounter included giving and/or receiving oral sex. More women (59%) than men (52%) reported giving oral sex to their partner. More men (63%) than women (44%) reported receiving oral sex. Most men (73%) and women (69%) reported that receiving oral sex was “very pleasurable.” Though most participants rated giving oral sex as at least “somewhat pleasurable,” men were significantly more likely than women to report that giving oral sex was very pleasurable (52% vs. 28%). Overall, ratings of pleasure for giving oral sex were higher for men, but no gender differences were found for overall pleasure ratings of receiving oral sex. Regardless of gender, higher pleasure ratings were reported when giving and receiving oral sex with more committed partners compared to more casual ones. Findings highlight the utility of discussing gendered norms for sexual behaviour with young people, and including pleasure-enhancing information in sexual health education programs.