Let's face it, the sex ed we were dished at school barely covered the basics.
We were starved of a good, hard honest look into the intimacy of so many kinds – with consent, pleasure and same-sex dynamics seemingly actively avoided as topics to discuss.
And that left a lot of us searching for answers elsewhere: our friends, TV shows, our big sisters and porn.
A rather patchy selection of sources to build our whole sex life on top of, right?
Well, we're going to fill in one of the big blanks for you today. In fact, we're kick-starting a series of how-to's where we explore a sexual act in a lot of detail and give you all the juicy insights.
But back to today. We're talking about how to go down on a woman. And there's a lot to cover, so let's get started.
Our sexual guides today are Sophie Cachia (the host of Mamamia's podcast HER) and sex columnist Nadia Bokody. While they would consider themselves experts in the trade now, they both had to start somewhere – with zero experience and a whole lot of learning ahead of them.
"I will say that when I look back at my first time doing this, I want to crawl under a table," Sophie says of her first experience of giving oral sex to another woman.
But since then she's communicated more, had more female partners and now wants to share with the world her best tried-and-tested tips – as well as the routine she recommends for the first time going down on a girl.
Here's every detail you need to know.
The cues you need to look for in their body.
When it comes to oral sex, there's often a need to decode body language over verbal conversations – as mouths may be a little preoccupied...
But what are the signals you need to spot? Well, Sophie says that women tend to move around a lot more than their male sexual counterparts, making it harder to know if you've just witnessed a good 'I like that' movement, or a bad 'let's move on from this' movement.
"It's not like they're just on their back and still. You're working with the clitoris, which is a very sensitive tool, and so someone could wriggle and you go, 'hang on was that a good movement? Or was that too sensitive?' But in those moments [of confusion] you just need to check in with them."
Sophie and Nadia refer to negative movements as "the flinch" – aka a little convulsion to shake up the position or rhythm – and that you should use those as an opportunity to talk and suggest something new.
There is one movement, however, that Sophie is certain is a great big, tick-in-the-box validation – and it's all to do with the hips.
"How good is it when you feel their hips grinding, like towards your face?! When a woman starts you know, maybe her hand goes on your head. That's often a good sign. If her hand is going on your head like pushing it down there. You know she's having a good time."
How to please all of the clitoris.
"When I am giving head to a woman I am looking to hit both ends of the clitoris," says Nadia.
...If you've just read that and are thinking, 'both ends? What do you mean, both ends?!' then let's pause and have a little biology lesson.
Winding it back to the late 90s (you know the time, low-rise jeans, glittery lip gloss), an Australian neurologist named Helen O'Connell started researching clitoral anatomy. She worked out that the little pea-sized bump that we see on the outside which we've always called the clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg.
"What the clitoris actually is, is it's these roots which run down in a wishbone-like shape, deep down into the vagina," Nadia explains. "So when you are hitting the g-spot what you are actually hitting is the bottom of those clitoral roots and those clitoral roots are filled with erectile tissue – just the same as you find in a penis.
"So when I'm giving oral, I'm looking to hit both ends of the clitoris. So my tongue is on the clit. But I've got two fingers inside the pussy pressing up against the g-spot."
Remember to think outside of the clit.
While the clitoris is usually the most sensitive area, it's not the only spot where pleasure can be found – so don't be afraid to explore other destinations.
Sophie is strong on her stance that "we are all individuals" and "not everyone will like what you like", so communicating and exploring together is a great way to learn about your partner's body and what it really, truly craves.
"Something that I know partners I've had in the past have really enjoyed is the whole area – it is not just about the clitoris. There are glands and sensitive areas around the vagina and around the vulva – they go all the way down."
"Some people like having their bum included in that as well," Sophie shares. "I know I do."
*Adds to the to-do list.
The art of mastering 'tenting'.
We know you've just finished your biology lesson, but here's a quick lecture on semantics.
There's a term in the lesbian world called 'tenting' which Nadia explains is an expansion within the vagina.
Nadia says that "tenting is when you can feel with your fingers when she's really fucking into it and getting close to coming. It's almost like the vagina expands. You can actually feel the expansion."
Want to know how to get to that level of pleasure? Read on...
Once you find the rhythm, don't change the tune.
This is potentially the top tip Sophie and Nadia want you to take into the bedroom with a woman. So if you take away one thing from this masterclass, let it be this: Once you find what they like, repeat it.
"You can mix things up at the start, but once she's getting into it, oh my god, please do not change things up," says Sophie.
"You know yourself as a woman, if you are getting close, and then your partner has been down there for 15 minutes and then they change something. It's not like they can just go back after that – you're immediately back to the start of that 15 minutes. You are back to square one."
The routine to follow.
Now you have the dos and don'ts down pat, it's time to iron out your routine.
As mentioned, everyone is different and this shouldn't be a must-stick-to-every-bullet-point blueprint that you follow to a tee, but it's a nice little routine to start – especially if this is your first time.
1. Let the licking begin.
We've spoken a bit about technique already, but as a reminder, "you don't need to be doing the ABCs with your tongue" here. Instead, as Nadia suggests, "imagine you are licking a delicious ice cream like it's a flat, evenly dispersed soft tongue because that's going to hit the head of the clitoris".
You need to stay on this step for at least 15 minutes.
2. Introducing digits.
"Women need time to relax and get lubricated, so don't just go ramming your fingers in there," warns Nadia.
"Once you've been concentrating on the clit with your mouth for a few minutes, you can tease the entrance to the vagina. Do not put your fingers all the way in – get two fingers and like kind of circle them around the opening of the vagina almost like kind of stretching it a little bit."
There are heaps of nerve endings around the vaginal entrance, so this phase can go on for as long as you want, with Nadia recommending sticking with it for a while to enjoy something else...
3. Get gushing.
"My girlfriend calls 'the gusher' when she circles around like the opening of my vagina and does it repeatedly. I'm like, 'I don't know what's happening, but I'm like gushing right now' – like it's making the extra lubricated," Nadia says.
This surge of fluids and enthusiasm leads very nicely to the next step.
4. Fully using fingers.
Go on, go ahead and put your fingers inside. This can be while you're still working softly with your tongue so you're working both ends of the clitoris.
5. Come hither.
Now, what to do with those fingers?
You don't need to go in as far in as you may think – in fact, Sophie says it's just a "couple of centimetres in, up to your first or second knuckle". It's here where you might feel a difference in texture – a spongier, softer spot.
"Do not be afraid to have a feel around to you can find that spot and feel grooves you can feel nerve endings."
Once you find it, then you can start moving your fingers as if you're ushering someone over with a 'come hither' signal. Keep this movement slow and gradually increase the pressure.
6. Curl it up.
The roots of the clitoris are just behind the vaginal wall, so if you want to up the ante you can progress your 'come hither' movement to a 'full curl'.
Nadia had her first experience of a 'full curl' with her girlfriend and says while she's not religious, she's pretty sure she saw the face of god when her partner did a 'full curl' on her.
"Once I got with my most recent girlfriend, she was doing something to me when she was going down on me with her fingers that I was like, What the hell is that? Like? I am not a religious person. But I saw the face of God. She was doing this thing with her fingers, curling them all the way around to be almost in a crescent moon shape."
This should be done slowly and sparingly, as the results can be explosive. Literally.
And there's your routine! Have any questions or concerns? Well, Sophie Cachia will be back next week for a subscriber episode of HER, running through your next sexcapades.