Oral sex is not really sex, right? Wrong! Many people feel safe participating in oral sex because “it’s not real sex” and there is no risk of pregnancy. However, oral sex is “real” sex and while it may be the less risky type of sex, it still carries the same risks associated with vaginal or anal sex. Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis can be transmitted through oral-genital contact. It is difficult to determine exact rates of transmission of STIs through oral sex since many sexually active individuals practice oral sex in addition to other, higher risk activities, such as vaginal and/or anal sex. In addition, oral HPV, which is closely linked to oral cancer, is on the rise among adolescents.
Given the risks of oral sex, if you decide to engage in this behavior-whether you are receiving or giving-knowing ways to reduce the risk of exposure STI is important. Many people consider practicing safer sex to be an obligation-talking to your partner about ways to eroticize the experience can let pleasure still remain the primary focus.
For oral sex on a woman, the use of latex barrier such as a dental dam, condoms cut open and rolled out flat or plastic wrap can serve as a barrier to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STIs. There are some ltex barriers are manufactured with flavors to cater to different tastes.
For oral sex on a man, using a flavored latex condom can reduce STI transmission. Some people complain that condoms have a rubbery taste and lessen the sensation on the penis. Spermicides on the condoms may also numb the tongue. While using flavored condoms may make the idea of using a condom more appealing, but be sure that the condom is not a novelty condom. Condoms that say “for novelty use only” should not be used for protection from STIs. Using a small amount of lubricant inside the condom may help increase sensation.
For oral-anal contact, a barrier is strongly recommended. Using a dental dam or plastic wrap will reduce possible transmission.
Do not brush or floss your teeth right before you have oral sex. Flossing and brushing may tear the lining of the mouth, increasing the exposure to any viruses that may be present. Also, be sure to examine your partners genitals before engaging in oral sex. If there is a sore or discharge on your partner’s genitals or an unusual odor, avoid any type of contact with the genitals including oral sex.
Communication with your partner is important when deciding to have oral sex. Talking with your partner can help both of you make appropriate decisions and reduce your risk.