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Oral sex is a sexual practice in which one partner stimulates another's genitals using the mouth, tongue, teeth, lips or throat. It may occur on its own, as part of foreplay or during intercourse. Twenty seven percent of men and 19% of women reported having engaged in oral sex according to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.
Oral sex is also known as fellatio, oral-genital sex, or cunnilingus. One partner may also refer to oral sex by saying that they "went down on" the other.
Oral sex is considered a common sexual behavior among both gay and straight couples, and a number of positions are used in performing oral sex. According to the Janus Report on Sexual Behavior, 18% of women report a preference for oral sex to achieve orgasm, compared to 10% of men. Women are also more likely to achieve orgasm through oral sex than through vaginal sex.
From a sexual health perspective, oral sex carries no risk of pregnancy. However, there is a risk of transmitting other STDs this way, including HIV, although it's lower than with anal or vaginal sex. In recent years, oral cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) has also become a concern with oral sex. These risks can be greatly reduced through the use of condoms.
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