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Is Oral Sex Safe Sex?

Published on October 6th, 2016

While many people may consider oral sex a safe sexual practice, in actuality many STDs can be transmitted through oral sex. Common STDs such as chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, HPV, and syphilis can be transmitted through unprotected oral sex. And, while the risk is low, so can HIV.

Oral sex and STDs: Understanding the risks and how to practice safer sex

However, the risk of oral sex depends on the type of oral sexual contact and number of sexual partners the participants have had. For instance, some experts suggest that oral sex performed on a man is a higher risk activity than oral sex performed on a woman.

When STDs are transmitted via oral sex, the infection can appear in the genital area, throat, urinary tract, or rectum. Since many STDs present few or mild symptoms, it is important to be tested regularly if you engage in any kind of sex with multiple partners.

Teens and Oral Sex

Because the myth that oral sex is safe is so prevalent, many teens participate in oral sex. In 2005, The Washington Post reported that approximately half of teens (ages 15-19) have had oral sex. Because many teens see oral sex as a low risk alternative to intercourse, parents need to talk with their children about the risks associated with this practice and how to manage those risks.

Safer Oral Sex

To decrease the risk of transmitting an STD during oral sex, participants should use a condom or dental dam. If a dental dam is not available, a condom can be cut in half and laid flat over the vaginal or anal area and used as a dam.

If you’re experiencing genital soreness, rash, odor, or unusual discharge, you should abstain from oral sex and schedule a visit with a healthcare professional for an STD screening.

Back to STD Knowledge Base

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