When it comes to the act of sex, many people classify oral sex as a performance in a category all its own that seems to float above the hazards that vaginal and anal sex pose. However, whether one views oral sex as a sexual act or as an act of foreplay, using the mouth on the genitals poses the same threat to the body as genital-to-genital contact in the case of contracting STDs. Countless numbers of people believe oral sex to be a safer form of sex, but the only way to ensure you are practicing safer sex, even during oral sex, is to use a barrier of protection to reduce your chances of contracting an infection or virus.
One of the major questions that I am asked as a sex educator is, “can I catch an STD in my mouth?”
The answer is YES!
Any area of the body that grants access to the inside of the body or to the bloodstream is a pathway for STDs to enter, fester and multiply. Every STD can live in the warm ecosystem of the mouth and can be spread from partner to partner through kissing and mouth-to- genital contact. The best way to ensure your overall sexual health and to reduce your chances of STD exposure if you are sexually active is to use condoms and dental dams correctly during oral sex and to get tested regularly to know your STD status. The only way to completely prevent your chances of contracting any STD is by not having sex at all.
STDs are often asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have symptoms that notify you when something is wrong with your body. When symptoms do decide to rear their ugly heads, they are often subtle and appear days, weeks, months or even years after the initial contraction.
It is recommended for sexually active persons to get tested every three to six months depending on the level of your sexual activity. If you need immediate testing that is discreet and free, you can find a testing site near you by logging on to www.gytnow.org and entering your zip code to find a location that is right for you.
While you are being tested, you can pick up as many condoms as you want (these centers often have a ton of free condoms) to keep yourself in the safer sex zone, and during your next visit to the dentist, you can request a dental dam to use during cunniligus (oral sex) to be used over the vulva. These barriers come in latex and non-latex and they even come in flavors.
So there you have it! Oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex all present the same hazards of being exposed to STDs/STIs. Educating yourself and protecting yourself by applying what you have learned will keep you healthy, safe and ready to explore your sexuality with a partner that you trust.