Oral Sex and Sexually Transmitted Infections
Compared to sex, oral sex is considered a lower-risk sexual activity. There is zero risk of unwanted pregnancy and a lower chance of passing along a sexually transmitted disease. However, “lower risk” does not mean “no risk” – there is no such thing as 100 percent safe sex, and oral sex is no exception.
Not just cold sores. People may tend to think of embarrassing cold sores and the Herpes virus when they think of oral sex and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). However the majority of common sexually transmitted infections can be transferred through oral sex. Some, such as Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are relatively easy to treat with antibiotics, but this list also includes the dangerous STI Syphilis and there is even a very small risk of transferring HIV.
What you can’t see can hurt you. Often, STI’s that are transferred through oral sex will have no visible symptoms. A person may be most contagious when they have an active visible infection or sores, but STI’s can also be caught while the infected person looks completely healthy.
Protect yourself. Men can wear a latex condom while receiving oral sex, and women can use a dental dam, which is a thin square of latex that can be placed over the female genitals. Dental dams are sold in some pharmacies, but if one cannot be found, a condom can be cut and unrolled into a square to serve this purpose.
Making safe oral sex enjoyable oral sex. Some people may not like using protection during oral sex; they may find it reduces sensitivity or they may dislike the taste of latex.
Here are some fun suggestions to have safe and enjoyable oral sex:
- Use non-lubricated condoms and dental dams
- Experiment with flavoured condoms or dental dams to find which you like best
- For men, add a small amount of saliva or lubricant between the condom and your penis to increase sensitivity.
An alternative for monogamous couples may be for both partners to see a health professional and get tested for STI’s. It’s important to talk to your partner, and make sure that you are both aware that there are still risks:
- Testing is not 100% reliable and some STI’s including HIV may not show up in testing until several months after infection.
- Protection should be used until both partners receive negative test results.
- If both partners are not completely monogamous, there is still a risk of infection.
- Condoms are still highly recommended for protection during vaginal and anal sex.
From Sexuality and U, Canada