Whether you use your mouth, tongue, and lips to stimulate a partner’s genitals; oral sex is a great way to experience sexual pleasure.
And it’s pretty popular too. In one of the biggest studies into sexual behaviour in Britain, 71% of 16-24-year-old men and 80% of 25-34-year old men said they’d given or received oral sex in the last year. Among women it was almost the same; 70% of 16-24-year-olds and 80% of 25-34-year-olds.
With so many people enjoying cunnilingus, fellatio, going down, blow jobs, giving head and rimming, is there anything you need to know about enjoying oral sex safely?
Although there isn’t a risk of pregnancy, oral sex does carry a risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This may be news to lots of people; in a survey we conducted for Sexual Health Week, more than half didn’t know that infections can be passed on during oral sex.
The infections most commonly passed on through oral sex are herpes simplex, which causes genital herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis, but other STIs can also be transmitted.
As with STIs passed on through vaginal or anal sex, you might not notice any signs or symptoms, so it’s important to know ways in which infections can be passed on and how to help prevent this happening.
STIs can be transmitted through skin to skin and hair to hair contact, and in body fluids. If there are symptoms, these could include a sore throat and blisters or sores in the mouth or on the lips.
There is usually more of an STI risk for the person who is giving oral sex (your mouth on their genitals) because they are more likely to come into contact with their partner’s body fluids. However, there is still a risk if you are receiving oral sex (their mouth on your genitals), because if they have an STI it could be passed on if they have any sores or blisters in their mouth, for example if they have genital herpes.
Making oral sex safer
It is best to avoid oral sex if you or a partner know you or they have an STI.
It’s also a good idea not to do it if at least one of you has
- sores, cuts, ulcers, blisters, warts or rashes around the genitals, anus or mouth
- any unhealed or inflamed piercings in the mouth or genitals
- a throat infection.
Because infections can also be passed on through menstrual blood it is best to avoid receiving oral sex while you are on your period.