Info Center

Do I need to use protection during oral sex?

Yes. Although the chance of getting or giving a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during oral sex is less likely than with vaginal or anal sex it is still possible. Many STDs can be passed from the mouth to genitals and vice versa. STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, herpes, hepatitis B and syphilis, can be spread by giving or receiving oral sex. There is a small risk for getting and giving HIV through oral sex, too.

Anytime pre-ejaculatory fluid, semen or vaginal fluids enter the body, whether through the mouth or another opening, there’s a risk of transmitting an STD if either partner has one. HPV and herpes are not spread through fluids—they are spread through skin to skin contact. It’s tough to tell whether a person has an infection. Sometimes, people have infections and don’t even know it.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy oral sex. But it does mean that you need to plan ahead, talk to your partner and use protection. One way to make oral sex safer is to get tested for STDs regularly. Pay attention to any potential symptoms of STDs, and get them checked out by a health care provider right away.

If you do not abstain from oral sex, using a latex barrier or other safer sex method is your best chance of avoiding most STDs. A condom can be used on a penis to protect a guy and his partner from STDs. Many condom brands have flavored condoms to make using one during oral sex more enjoyable.

A dental dam—a thin sheet of latex—can be used for oral sex on a vagina or anus. You can get dental dams at a clinic. Sexual partners can also cut a condom lengthwise to create a sheet that works like a dental dam to use as a barrier between a person’s mouth and a vulva or anus.

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