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Summary: She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner

  • “She Comes First” by Ian Kerner is a groundbreaking guide to understanding and satisfying a woman’s sexual desires from a man’s perspective.
  • If you’re looking to become a more attentive and skilled lover while fostering a deeper connection in your relationship, “She Comes First” is a must-read book that will transform your understanding of female sexual pleasure.

In “She Comes First,” clinical sexologist and avid cunnilingus practitioner Ian Kerner shares his methodology, filling our culture’s sexual-information-for-men void with a tour of the finer points of pleasuring a woman. This book summary explains sexual activity through the framework of foreplay, coreplay, and moreplay; introduces the 10 pleasure hot spots in a woman’s clitoral network; and gives detailed techniques for using tongue, fingers, and hands to maximize pleasure.

Shift your focus from penetration to pleasure.


  • Want to up your game when it comes to pleasure
  • Suffer from performance anxiety in the bedroom
  • Don’t know exactly what a “vulva” is


Most women love receiving oral sex, and not just as foreplay. Sex survey results, sexuality study findings, and sex experts agree that women find cunnilingus one of the most satisfying and enjoyable forms of sexual activity. Women are far more likely to orgasm from clitoral stimulation than from penetration, and the tongue’s warmth, wetness, and dexterity make it an ideal tool for pleasure.

Book Summary: She Comes First - The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman (Kerner)

Women are more likely than men to be knowledgeable about their own bodies and sexuality, to discuss sexual topics with friends and family, and to educate themselves by reading books, magazines, and articles on the internet.

Men are more likely to form opinions and practices based on pornography and the objectifying, “conquest-oriented” stories of other men. Author Ian Kerner has interviewed men who secretly read women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan in order to learn more about sex. But even women’s magazines only go so far.

She Comes First is an in-depth guide to the pleasures of cunnilingus, which Kerner describes as the ultimate act of sexual pleasure and intimacy.

The Elements of Sexual Style

The 1994 Sex in America survey found that three-quarters of men always have orgasms during intercourse, but the same is true for less than a third of women. However, other studies have shown that in couples who engage in at least 21 minutes of foreplay, more than 90% of women consistently orgasm.

Our culture often focuses on penetration as the “goal” of sex. But the inner walls of the vagina, especially deeper in, have relatively few nerve endings. The clitoris, on the other hand, is connected to more than 20,000 nerve fibers throughout the pelvic region. Far more than just the nub that protrudes at the top of the vulva, the clitoris is a network of pleasure with as many as 18 different parts. From the shaft that connects the clitoral head to the mons pubis, the clitoris extends down both sides of the vulva. The clitoral network includes the “clitoral cluster,” often called the G-spot, which is erectile tissue that forms a protective barrier between the upper wall of the vaginal entrance and the urethra.

Giving a woman maximum pleasure requires a shift in focus away from the penis. Such a shift may be difficult, or it can be a relief, a letting go of our culture’s often anxiety-inducing obsession with size and stamina. In short, don’t make love with your penis; make love with your whole self.

Studies have found that oral sex is the most reliable way for women to experience orgasm. As that finding demonstrates, the tongue is a particularly useful tool for pleasure. It has the unique property of only being attached at one end. Like any tool, the tongue can be used expertly or inexpertly. Men often consider cunnilingus to be foreplay, in introduction to the “real thing,” but in fact it is worthy of its own focus. Cunnilingus, done well, creates an intimate erotic experience that can enhance pleasure for both partners.

From the goddess worship of earlier civilizations through the Ancient Greeks and up until just 200 or 300 years ago, scientists and philosophers believed that female orgasm was crucial for reproduction, just as male orgasm was. In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, women began to be increasingly seen as nonsexual beings. Anatomists associated the clitoris with the urinary system, or failed to label it at all.

Then, in the early 1900s, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud began to promote the view that clitoral stimulation was an “immature” source of pleasure, second best to penetration. This view was not rooted in any sort of science, but an overall approach to women’s sexuality as a lesser version of men’s sexuality.

In the second half of the 20th century, researchers of human sexuality like Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Shere Hite, and Mary Jane Sherfey have fought to replace these misconceptions with a more accurate understanding. Orgams are orgasms — all female orgasms come from clitoral stimulation in one way or another, and no one type of pleasure is superior to any other.

Chinese Empress Wu Hu received oral sex from officials and dignitaries as a form of homage. Cunnilingus is a recognition of women’s power, and a demonstration of respect for women and their equal right to pleasure.

An important part of respecting a woman and giving her pleasure is understanding the anatomy involved. The vulva is the general term for a woman’s external genitalia, including the inner and outer labia (lips) and the clitoris. We’ll get into more detail about the different parts of the vulva later. The vagina is the tube that leads inward from the vulva to the uterus. The vagina is where penetration happens, but it is not so important when it comes to a woman’s pleasure.

Like a good plot, sex has a beginning, middle, and end: a setting of the stage, a rising tension, and a resolution. We’ll call these three stages foreplay, coreplay, and moreplay.

Foreplay releases hormones, triggering enhanced sensitivity and causing the breasts and genitals to swell. Glands in the vagina produce lubricant — although many factors affect the timing and amount of lubrication, so wetness is not synonymous with arousal.

Coreplay creates a building of tension; the clitoris and vagina change shape, and the rhythm of the heart and breathing change. The tension is released in orgasmic contractions, which vary in number and intensity, and which every woman experiences differently.

Moreplay is the after, the process of returning to baseline. Unlike men, who return to a pre-aroused state quickly and are unable to orgasm again right away, women take at least five or 10 minutes to come down off their arousal and can have multiple orgasms after the first. This so-called “snuggle gap” is the reason she comes first should be your motto. Her body is better set up than yours for more sexual activity after an orgasm.

A note about hygiene: Both men and women can experience uncertainty about cleanliness and scent when it comes to oral sex. However, the vagina and vulva are self-cleaning. Kind of like yogurt, they produce healthy bacteria that protect against unhealthy bacteria. Vulvas do sweat, but a quick shower can help freshen up if desirable. Occasionally, a bacterial imbalance can cause an infection of anaerobic, trimethylamine-producing microbes, which can cause a “fishy” odor and warrant a trip to the doctor.

And of course it’s always important to communicate with your partner about STDs and use a dental dam if there’s risk of transmission. It’s much easier for a man to infect a woman than vice versa.

Rules of Usage

When it comes to foreplay, avoid touching her genitals for the first 10 or 15 minutes. Focus on other points of connection, building the anticipation with or without actual contact. Small touches can convey a lot. Think earlobe kisses, foot massages, a steamy shower together.

Cultivate your awareness of your partner and her responses — changes in her breathing, for example, can be a very good indication of arousal. (Wetness, on the other hand does not necessarily correspond with arousal: A woman can be wet without being aroused, and in one survey 20% of women said that they didn’t get very or at all wet during sexual activity.)

Communication is also a powerful tool in the pursuit of pleasure. One survey of 100,000 married women revealed that communicating sexual feelings with their partner strongly correlated with overall sexual satisfaction.

Once she’s ready to transition from foreplay into coreplay, make sure you’re both in a comfortable, sustainable position. Well-known positions like 69 and Sit on My Face can add some excitement for brief periods of time but are not likely to yield maximum pleasure overall. If she lies on her back, with pillows behind her shoulders and under her butt, her knees slightly bent and not too far apart, she’ll be able to relax and focus on the sensations you’re giving her. You should lie between her legs, giving your face and hands easy access to her vulva.

Does expert cunnilingus take time? Yes. Very generally, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. That’s why it’s important to enjoy yourself while you do it. If you focus on orgasm as the goal and get impatient, you’re likely to stimulate her too hard and fast, which will be counterproductive. If she picks up that you are impatient, she is likely to get anxious, reducing her ability to enjoy the experience or to orgasm at all.

Focus on giving her pleasure and building the intimate connection between you. The more she gets aroused during foreplay, and the more you know about the way her individual body works, the more effectively you will be able to bring her to orgasm.

The cunnilingus devotee needs to be familiar with the 10 “hot spots” of the clitoral network, all of which deserve attention:

Glans: The head of the clitoris, covered by a protective hood. It is very sensitive and responds well to rhythmic, gentle tongue strokes. Once she is well aroused, firmer pressure can be added.

Clitoral cluster: Above the vaginal ceiling from the vaginal entrance to about two inches in. Stimulate this area with fingertip pressure.

Mons pubis: The pubic mound. Massaging this area with your palm can stimulate the clitoral cluster from above.

Front commissure: Just above the clitoral hood, covering the clitoral shaft. This responds well to tongue strokes followed by firmer pressure.

Frenulum: Where the labia minora meet below the clitoral head. Use tongue strokes as well as firmer pressure.

Labia minora: The inner lips. Swell when aroused. Use tongue strokes, nibbles and gentle pinches.

Vaginal entrance: Use slow licks and gentle tickles.

Fourchette: Where the labia minora meet below the vaginal opening. Stimulate with tongue strokes and gentle tickles.

Perineum: Area between the fourchette and the anus. Stimulate with tongue strokes and fingertip pressure.

Anus: Connected to the clitoral network, this area can be stimulated with fingertip pressure, insertion, and tongue strokes, but don’t transfer tongue or fingers from this area to the vulva — doing so can transfer bacteria that shouldn’t come into contact with the vulva. Not everyone is comfortable with anal play, so be sure to check in about it.

As you practice the techniques that follow, think of yourself as a jazz band: Your tongue is the dynamic saxophone, your fingers are the supporting piano, and your hands are the bass riff holding it all together. The process of cunnilingus is should be experienced as one fluid narrative of pleasure, but for learning purposes it can be broken down into six stages.

  1. The first kiss: Like a glass of good wine, savor before you sip. Kiss her thighs. Skim her pubic hair with your fingers. Breathe on her vulva. Finally, lick her vulva from bottom to top like an ice-cream cone, but slowly. Make sure to go lightly over her clitoral head. Then rest the flat of your tongue against her vaginal entrance for a few moments.
  2. Establishing rhythm: The tension between movement and stillness, between contact and distance, is extremely powerful. Alternate licks with a flat tongue resting against her. Alternate light tongue strokes over her whole vulva with firmer strokes that stop just below her head.
  3. Building tension: Now it’s time to bring in the piano and bass. As you lick, trace her inner lips with your index finger. Tease her front commissure, frenulum, and vaginal entrance. Then slide your finger inside her vagina — just a couple of inches in. Meanwhile, support her with your other hand under her butt, cradling her cheeks. Add in some horizontal or diagonal licks, or some repetitive, focused “cat licks.” Close your lips around her head and suck very gently.
  4. Escalating the action: With your index finger in her vagina, curl it toward you, brushing the ceiling of the vagina to stimulate the clitoral cluster. Do the same with the walls and floor. Use your fingertip on the floor of her vagina and your thumb on her perineum to give her a gentle pinch. Eventually, add a second finger and use both to stimulate her clitoral cluster. As she gets more aroused, you can apply firmer pressure to her clitoral head by pressing with your upper lip or gum.
  5. Preorgasm: During this stage, it’s important to keep a firm pressure on her clitoral head. Hold her firmly in place against your mouth, and bring her legs as close together as you can to make it easier for her to orgasm. One option is to bring her legs together and straddle them. While you can (and should) enjoy her increasing excitement, keep calm. Even slow down. Keep the pressure on her front commissure with your upper lip or gum, but use light tongue strokes. Use the occasional horizontal lick between vertical licks, or skip a stroke.
  6. Orgasm: Keep the stimulation going through the spasms of orgasm until her body relaxes. An orgasm can last ten to twenty seconds or longer. During this period, enhance her pleasure with a few light tongue jabs or caresses to her clitoral head.

Once a woman has orgasmed once, it’s actually easier for her to orgasm again. She remains on a plateau of arousal. Spend a few minutes kissing and touching — returning to foreplay, essentially — and if you both feel ready, do it again! Now, after she’s warmed up, is a great time for intercourse.

After you’ve both had as many orgasms as you desire, don’t forget moreplay. Spend some time snuggling, kissing, or talking as a way to preserve your connection as you transition from the intensity of sex into the next thing, whether that’s sleep or food or work.

Putting it All Together

If you’re new to cunnilingus, try a relatively simple routine:

  1. Stage 1 (<1 minute): Slide both hands underneath her and start with slow, light licks from bottom to top.
  2. Stage 2 (3-5 minutes): Alternate five vertical halfway licks (stopping below the clitoral head) with one complete stroke. Insert index finger of one hand partway into vagina.
  3. Stage 3 (5-10 minutes): Alternate five vertical halfway licks (just brushing the bottom of the clitoral head) with one horizontal lick across the clitoral head. Leave one finger in the vaginal entrance and use the others to caress the vulva and perineum.
  4. Stage 4 (3-5 minutes): As you lick, periodically pause and press your tongue against her clitoral head for a few seconds. Insert a second finger into her vagina and feel for the clitoral cluster beyond the ceiling of the vagina.
  5. Stage 5 (3-5 minutes): Slow down tongue strokes; increase pressure. Let her grind her vulva against you. Keeping two fingers inside her, press your thumb against her perineum.
  6. Stage 6 (<1 minute): Press your tongue to her clitoral head throughout her orgasm.

As you get more experienced and learn more about how her body responds to different kinds of stimulation, incorporate more-advanced techniques and vary your routines.


Every woman is different, and every man is different, but general guidelines do apply. Use ample foreplay to make sure she’s aroused before going down on her. Get comfortable. Assure her that you’re enjoying it, too. Use your tongue to stimulate her whole vulva, going lightly on her clitoral head at first, then applying firmer pressure with your tongue or upper lip or gum. Use your fingertips inside the vaginal entrance to stimulate her clitoral cluster. Use your hands to support her and keep her in position.

Above all, stay calm, focused on her, and aware of her body. Share this erotic moment with her, body, mind, and spirit.

About the author

Ian Kerner is an integrative psychotherapist, sexuality counselor, and bestselling author. He is a regular contributor to CNN Health, gives lectures on sex and relationships at universities and conferences, and has appeared on The Today Show and NPR. His other books include Passionista and Sex Recharge. He lives in New York City.


Sex, Relationships, Sexuality, Self Help, Health, Psychology, Feminism, Science, Marriage, Womens, Psychology and Counseling Books on Sexuality, General Sexual Health

Table of Contents

Introduction: Confessions of a Premature Ejaculator
Part I: The Elements of Sexual Style

1. She Comes First: The Courtesy That Counts
2. Her Clitoris: The Little Engine That Could
3. Think Outside Her Box
4. The Female Orgasm: Keep it Simple
5. The Tongue Is Mightier Than the Sword
6. Her Inner Goddess
7. Avoid Freud
8. What’s in a Name?
9. Now You See It: Female Sexual Anatomy, Part 1
10. Now You Don’t: Female Sexual Anatomy, Part 2
11. Avoid “G-Spotty” Logic
12. When Raindrops Keep Falling on Your Head: Female Ejaculation
13. How Wet Is Wet?
14. Aristotle and the Poetics of Arousal
15. A Synopsis of Female Sexual Response
16. Scent and Sensibility
17. We’ve Come a Long Way…
18. …But Proceed with Caution
19. Eat Right
20. The Cunnilinguist Manifesto

Part II: Rules of Usage

21. A Note on the Play Process
22. Foreplay: A Lexicon of Relevant Terms
23. Introducing Coreplay
24. Form Follows Function: Getting into Position
25. A Quick Refresher of the Top Ten Hot Spots in the Clitoral Network
26. Grand Openings: the First Kiss
27. Establishing Rhythm
28. Developing Tension, Part 1
29. “Time Flies”
30. Developing Tension, Part 2
31. Escalating the Action, Part 1
32. Two’s Company
33. An Interlude
34. Escalating the Action, Part 2
35. A Stitch in Time
36. Preorgasm, Part 1
37. Preorgasm, Part 2
38. Posterior Pizzazz
39. Preorgasm, Part 3
40. A Note for Those Stuck Without an Ending
41. The Female Orgasm: Expanding Your Vocabulary
42. Moreplay: She Comes Again (and Again)
43. Seamless Transitions
44. Achieving Simultaneity
45. Don’t Forget Your Epilogue

PART III: Putting it All Together

46. The Substance of Style
47. Routines: A Cheat Sheet
48. Routines: Beginner to Advanced



“She Comes First” by Ian Kerner is a groundbreaking book that offers a comprehensive guide to female sexual pleasure, written from a man’s perspective. Kerner explores the art of pleasuring women and provides a detailed, informative, and sensitive approach to understanding and satisfying a woman’s sexual desires.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first section delves into the anatomy and physiology of the female genitalia, educating readers on the importance of understanding the intricacies of a woman’s body. Kerner emphasizes the need for patience and attentiveness in creating a strong foundation for a fulfilling sexual relationship.

In the second section, Kerner discusses the various techniques and methods for pleasuring a woman, focusing on the art of oral sex. He provides detailed and practical advice on how to give cunnilingus effectively, including communication, rhythm, and various stimulating techniques. Kerner highlights the significance of emotional connection and open communication in the sexual experience.

The final section of the book emphasizes the importance of incorporating these techniques into a woman’s sexual well-being and overall relationship. Kerner advocates for the consideration of a woman’s sexual needs as a priority and for the continuous effort to enhance her pleasure.

“She Comes First” is a remarkable book that transcends the traditional boundaries of sex education literature. Ian Kerner’s approach is not just about mechanics but about understanding and valuing a woman’s sexual experience. His book encourages men to become better, more attentive lovers, emphasizing the significance of emotional intimacy, communication, and connection.

The book is well-written, informative, and respectful in its tone, making it an accessible resource for men looking to enhance their sexual relationships. Kerner’s dedication to the subject matter and his commitment to dispelling myths and stereotypes surrounding female sexuality make this book a valuable read. “She Comes First” provides an essential guide for men who are genuinely interested in pleasuring their partners and fostering a deeper connection in their relationships.

In conclusion, “She Comes First” is a must-read for any man looking to improve his understanding of female sexual pleasure. Ian Kerner’s expertise in this subject matter is evident, and his book provides a wealth of knowledge and practical advice. It encourages a more profound connection between partners and ultimately leads to a more fulfilling sexual relationship.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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