Woman eating a strawberry

Is Oral Sex Safe Sex?

Highlights

  • Is oral sex safe sex? Unfortunately, oral sex is not safe; there’s moderate to high risk involved. 
  • You can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from oral-genital or oral-anal contacts. 
  • If you have more than one partner, you should use a barrier contraceptive to minimize the risks during oral sex. 
  • Regular testing and STI treatment are important for your sexual health. 

Is oral sex safe sex? Many people don’t ask themselves that question. Instead, we focus on using effective birth control and preventing “big” infections like HIV during intercourse. But oral sex practices also come with a risk for sexual health and fertility. The good news is that you can protect yourself and your partner and still have fun. 

How Safe Is Oral Sex?

Oral sex is not completely safe because it involves an exchange of bodily fluids. Also, if you have a small tear in the mouth, genital, or anal area, there may be contact with blood. 

Openings of the body that are used for oral sex are lined with mucous membranes. These membranes are more sensitive to damage than the skin, and viruses and bacteria can easily pass through them. 

Here are some of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you can get through oral-genital or oral-anal contacts. 

  • Herpes simplex. This is one of the most common STIs, and it’s very easy to catch. Many people believe that if there are no visible cold sores, there is no risk. But sometimes the infected person may shed the virus without having any signs of an active infection in their body. 
  • HIV. This virus is present in semen, vaginal fluids, and to some extent in saliva. There have been confirmed cases of oral transmission for both hetero- and homosexual contacts. 
  • Chlamydia. Clinical analyses have confirmed the presence of this infection in people’s throats. If untreated, this disease can harm fertility, especially in women.
  • Gonorrhea. This is another STI that can affect fertility. Many people don’t realize they have it in their throat and that it can be passed on orally. 
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Most sexually active people have HPV, but some HPV types are more dangerous than others. In the worst case scenario, the infection may lead to oral and genital cancers in women and men.
  • Hepatitis A and B. These viruses can spread through oral-anal practices (sometimes called “rimming”). Both conditions affect the liver, with hepatitis B putting you at risk of cancer. 
  • Syphilis. You can get this infection through contact with lesions. The tricky part is that these are not always easy to notice. 
Woman taking off her bra and underwear
Oral sex comes with a risk of sexually transmitted infections

Should Monogamous Couples Worry About Oral Sex Safety?

If you’re in an exclusive relationship and have been tested for STIs, you probably don’t need to use protection when going down on your partner. 

However, if you’ve been together for a while but don’t know your own and your partner’s sexual health status, it’s a good idea to get checked. Some STIs don’t show any symptoms but can still lead to serious consequences. 

Some monogamous couples still like to use latex barriers for oral-anal contacts for hygiene reasons. Sometimes women are touch-sensitive or prone to vaginal infections from cunnilingus and prefer to use a barrier when receiving oral pleasure. 

Another reason why some lovers use condoms for oral sex is to avoid ejaculate getting in the mouth. 

How To Practice Safer Oral Sex?

If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, extending safer sex practices to oral will protect your health. It may feel awkward at first but will get easier with practice. 

Talk To Your Lover(s)

Sometimes the hardest part of taking care of your sexual safety is talking about it with your partner. You may think you’re the only person in the world who wants to use protection for oral sex, but that’s not true. Explain to your partner why it’s important to you and that this is a sign of respect for your lover’s health as well. 

With casual sex it’s good practice to have a conversation about safety before you do anything sexual. You can even address it before you meet, especially if it’s a hookup situation. 

Two men laughing in bed
Talking about safer sex may feel awkward at first

Use Protection

So you’re ready to try safer oral sex, but you don’t know where to start. Thankfully, there are several products to help you stay safe. Not all of them will be available at your local pharmacy or drugstore, but they’re all easy to find online. 

  • Male condoms. These are versatile safer-sex tools. You can use them for blow jobs, but they can also be placed on female genitals if you cut a condom in half and stretch it. Some manufacturers offer condoms designed for oral sex, and they come in different flavors. 
  • Dental dams. Some people know them from going to the dentist. They are latex or polyurethane sheets that protect an area of the body from bacteria or viruses. Nowadays, you can get them made specifically for sexual purposes, and they are available in different colors and flavors. They are great for cunnilingus (oral sex given to a woman) and for rimming. Some people like to put some lube on their genitals before placing the sheet on their body. The only thing to remember is that someone needs to hold the dam in place so it doesn’t move away.
  • Latex panties. This is a new invention that makes cunnilingus easier for both partners. The company that produces them still doesn’t have FDA approval for STI protection, but they are planning to apply for it soon. Still, using a thin latex barrier like this might be better than using nothing. 
  • Plastic wrap. Since dental dams are sometimes hard to get, some people get creative and use Saran wrap. However, there aren’t any conclusive studies to confirm that these protect against HIV and STIs. 
Dental dam graphic
Dental dams are thin sheets of latex used for oral sex

Get Tested Regularly

Aside from using barriers for oral fun, you should regularly get tested for STIs. Even if you use protection all the time, it’s not always possible to avoid contact between the mouth and the genital or anal area. 

Remember that anything you do sexually carries a risk of infection, so check-ups are the only way to discover a hidden infection early.

Get Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections

If you discover that you have a sexually transmitted infection, talk to a doctor as soon as possible and get treatment. Even if you have no symptoms, the condition may lead to complications later. And refusing to treat yourself means you’re putting your partner at risk as well. 

With some STIs, like herpes, medication can reduce the frequency of outbreaks and the risk of transmitting the virus to your sexual partner. Order your medicines online today by visiting our sexual health page. At eDrugstore, we stand for high-quality service, discreet delivery, and free consultations with U.S.-licensed physicians. 

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