We are told it’s better to give than to receive, but when it comes to oral sex, that’s not always the case. A recent study published in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found women are more than twice as likely to go down on their partners than men, but they are less likely to enjoy performing the act.

Oral sex has become more commonplace in sexual encounters among people of all ages. Prior to the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, it was just considered taboo, an act reserved for homosexuals or prostitution. Now, “going downtown” has become just as important as intercourse, with some women finding being on the receiving end to be more intimate, and a better way to reach orgasm more quickly.

So, when it comes to giving and receiving oral sex, does one gender find it more pleasurable than the other?

Jessica Wood, lead author of the study at the University of Guelph, and her colleagues, teamed up with two professional marketing/research companies to recruit a national sample of 1,500 Canadian undergraduate students between the ages 18 to 24, and survey them online about their sexual activities in their most recent sexual encounter.

Of the 900 students who were heterosexual, and who had at least one sexual experience in the past, about 70 percent of both sexes reported having oral sex. Oral sex was no more or less likely to happen in hookups versus committed relationships. However, more than twice as many women (26 percent) as men (10 percent) had given but not received oral sex.

These participants were asked to rate how pleasurable oral sex was on a scale from 1 (not at all pleasurable) to 4 (very pleasurable). Going down was found to be less pleasurable with casual partners than with dating or cohabitating partners. This pattern was true among both sexes, with men and women enjoying giving and receiving oral in committed scenarios more so than in casual ones.

However, oral sex with casual partners was still deemed pleasurable. The amount of pleasure experienced was always rated above the mid-point of the scale on average, and receiving oral in particular was closer to the far end of the pleasure scale for both men and women. Here, the two types of oral sex were not created equal. Unsurprisingly, both sexes enjoyed receiving oral more than giving oral, regardless of whether they were just hooking up or in a serious relationship.

The biggest gender difference in oral sex was the enjoyment of giving oral. More than half of men who had given cunnilingus reported enjoying it a lot, while an additional 41 percent enjoyed it somewhat, and 7 percent didn't enjoy it much or at all. Contrastingly, only 28 percent of the women who gave fellatio found it very pleasurable; for 55 it was somewhat pleasurable; and 17 percent didn't enjoy doing it. This pattern was more significant in casual hookups.  

Unfortunately, more women are giving blowjobs, but the majority aren’t enjoying themselves. This could be attributed to women either subtly or not subtly being pressured to perform sexual acts they do not enjoy. An Australian survey found half of women ages 16 to 25 had felt pressured at some point to engage in oral sex by either partners, peers, the influence of traditional gender roles, or as the result of inadequate sex education.

Meanwhile, men are performing less oral, yet they are twice more likely than women to enjoy it. Now, if more men enjoy it, then why aren’t they doing it more? Previous research has found a man's health could benefit from going down on his partner. Women produce hormones like oxytocin and DHEA, which can be transferred from their vaginas to their partners’ mouths, have protective effects against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Men, help bridge that gender gap, and have more orals with your partner — for your health's sake.

Source: Wood JR, McKay A, Komarnicky T et al. 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 . 2016.