Posted by HIM on Monday October 26th, 2009
Here are some frequently asked questions about oral sex and STIs
SOURCE: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
Can I get an STI from oral sex?
Yes, STIs can be transmitted during unprotected oral sex. Oral sex is a much lower risk activity than intercourse, but there’s still a possibility for transmission. Not using a condom, dental dam, or other barrier puts both partners at risk. This means that performing and receiving oral sex puts you at risk. Some STIs are more likely to be transmitted during oral sex than others, including:
For the person receiving oral sex, there is little chance of contracting HIV, although it’s difficult to pinpoint when HIV has been transmitted because people rarely engage in only one type of sexual activity. In the case of fellatio (oral sex on a man), the HIV virus theoretically could gain entry from the mouth to the opening on the tip of the penis, or through an open cut or lesion on the penis. If you receive oral sex however, you mainly expose yourself to saliva, which has negligible concentrations of HIV.
The risk of HIV infection is greater for the partner who performs oral sex and who has recent dental work done or having cuts in his mouth or an irritation of the tissue in the mouth.
Other STIs like HPV (genital Warts), Hepatitis B, Syphilis, Chlamydia and Chancroids can be transmitted through oral sex, although less commonly.
What are the symptoms of an oral STI?
If you have an oral STI infection, you might experience a sore throat, tonsillitis, oral lesions, or cold sores. However, many oral STI cases are asymptomatic. If your partner(s) is diagnosed with an STI, you should get tested for STIs and possibly treated.
How are they treated?
Treatments vary based on the STI diagnosed and the severity of the case. For example, gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics but HIV cannot.
How can I protect myself?
You and your partner need to make decisions based on an understanding of the risks involved and respect for each other’s comfort level. The safest way is to use a latex barrier during every act of oral sex. Using a condom or a dental dam during oral sex will prevent for STIs transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or by fluid transmission. Some suggestions:
You have increased risk of being exposed to STIs in the following situations: you have gum disease, cuts or sores, recent dental work that bruised Any tissue in your mouth or if you have vigorously brushed or flossed.
During the 6 weeks after any type of oral or genital piercing, avoid any type of oral sexual contact. Wait 6 weeks even if you are in a mutually monogamous relationship, because until it is completely healed, the piercing is an open wound and provided easy access for bacteria and viruses.
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