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Oral Sex & You: What you need to know to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Oral sex can be fun, but it can also spread disease. (Gross, right?)

Think about it: Oral sex puts you into contact with skin and body fluids—semen, vaginal fluids, blood, urine, feces, breast milk—any of which can contain disease-causing viruses or bacteria… And spitting out these fluids will not protect you from infection. Simple acts like shaving too close and flossing leave tiny cuts that can allow viruses and bacteria to enter the body. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can be passed from one partner to another through oral sex include herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphillis and Human papillomavirus (HPV).

While abstinence from oral-penile (fellatio, “blow job”), oral-vaginal (cunnilingus) and oral-anal (analingus, “rimming”) contact is the most effective protection against STIs during oral sex, there are ways to make these acts safer.


Explore barrier methods.

There are many brands, styles, types and flavors to choose from, so experiment to find one that works for you. If you’re in a relationship, find a method that both you and your partner can enjoy so you’ll be more inclined to use it regularly.

Be prepared!

Always have your barrier method of choice on hand. Correct and consistent use of protection is KEY in lowering your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Use a barrier EVERY TIME.

Use a new barrier for each oral sex act. Carefully remove and discard used barriers, and steer clear of fluid contact.

Look before you lick.

Just because someone looks disease-free on the outside doesn’t mean that they are! If you see lesions, growths or unusual discharge in the genital area, hold off. These symptoms can be due to numerous STIs, and physical contact with them can lead to infection.

Don’t ever forget the most important person: YOU.

Check your body periodically and contact your health care provider if you have any concerns. If you’re sexually active, get yourself tested for STIs regularly.



BARRIER METHOD OPTIONS:

Condom (latex or polyurethane)

  • PROS: Cheap, easy to find in stores, relatively easy to use
  • CONS: Bad taste (plain latex)

Dental dam, also known as oral dam

  • PROS: Made specifically for oral sex
  • CONS: Somewhat expensive, more difficult to find in stores

Do-it-yourself dental dam? Yes you can!
Time required: 1 minute… Seriously!

  1. Starting with an unlubricated or flavored condom, carefully remove the condom from the package. NOTE: Because they cannot be stored safely, homemade dental dams cannot be made ahead of time.
  2. Place a pair of sharp scissors into the cylindrical tube of the condom and cut up to the top/tip. NOTE: Do not cut all the way through the condom.
  3. Roll the condom out flat. You now have a thin, rectangular sheet perfect for use during oral sex!

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

  • Always store condoms/dental dams in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t open a condom/dental dam package till you are ready to use it.
  • Never use an old condom/dental dam. Check the date on the package to make sure it isn’t expired. Don’t use anything that is older than 5 years from the date of manufacture, either.
  • Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms. Latex condoms become damaged when used with oil-based substances—such as petroleum jelly, cooking oil, baby oil, mineral oil and skin lotions—as lubricants.
  • Not into latex? Try polyurethane condoms. Polyurethane is often considered better than latex in several ways: it conducts heat better than latex, can be used with oil-based lubricants and does not have an odor.

 

Still not sure about using protection during oral sex?

Consider this: If you’ve had 2 sexual partners, each of which had 3 sexual partners who had 4 sexual partners apiece… You’ve had indirect sexual contact with at least THIRTY-TWO people — most of whom you’ve never met.

Online sexual health resources

ashastd.org (American Social Health Association): ASHA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, provides information on sexual health with a focus on preventing sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STDs/STIs).

cdc.gov/sexualhealth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): The CDC’s “Sexual Health” area provides information on multiple topics, including: sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STDs/STIs); reproductive health; healthy pregnancy; HIV/AIDS prevention; sexual violence prevention; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) health.

itsyoursexlife.com/gyt (Get Yourself Tested): GYT provides the facts on sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STDs/STIs), testing and protection; talking tips to help young people communicate with their partners, parents and health care providers; and a testing center locator provided by the CDC. GYT is developed as part of It’s Your (Sex) Life, a longstanding public information partnership of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation, together with the CDC, Planned Parenthood and other national partners.