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Is oral sex safe? The answer will positively shock you!

It might sound fun, but the side effects of oral sex can have major repercussions for your vagina, including STIs and vaginal warts.
Indulge in oral sex with a bit of caution. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Anjuri Nayar Singh Updated: 22 Apr 2024, 12:13 pm IST
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Oral sex might sound like fun and games, minus all the risks that come with unprotected intercourse. However, the side effects of oral sex are also severe and one must be aware of its dangers. 

The logic behind safety seems simple enough: No penis, no semen, no baby. What we tend to forget is that the health of our vagina is still on the line. Oral sex involves licking of the genitals. The vagina, being one of the most sensitive body parts, might be at a risk of catching an infection. When women perform oral sex on a man, it also involves risk of infection. Moreover, if questions such as “Can oral sex cause throat cancer?, or “Can oral sex lead to UTI” are crossing your mind, read on! 

What is oral sex?

Oral sex is a sexual activity where a partner’s genitals or anus is stimulated orally. It is often part of foreplay, a warm up to get into the mood. Mouth, lips and tongue are used for stimulation of your partner’s erogenous zones.

Different types of oral sex

There are three types of oral sex that can be done, keeping the best oral sex positions in mind.

  • Fellatio: This is also known as a blowjob. Here, the penis is stimulated with the help of mouth and tongue. This is also called oral-penile sex.
  • Cunnilingus: Here, the mouth and tongue is used on the vulva, clitoris and the vagine in order to stimulate them.
  • Anilingus or Analingus: This is also called rimming. Anilingus is the sexual stimulation of the anus with the tongue and mouth.

Is oral sex safe?

Oral sex, if practiced without protection, can put you at risk for sexually transmitted infections as well as urinary tract infections. Oral sex needs to be practiced with some safety measures in order to minimise your risk of catching an infection. Here are some oral sex tip for safety:

1. Reduced risks with communication and hygiene

Communication with your partner is very important while following oral sex. If you are having oral sex with multiple partners, the chances of STIs will only increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 10 or more sexual partners in one lifetime can increase risk of HPV-related cancers. What to do after oral sex? it is important to wash your genitals before and after oral sex with unscented soap and warm water.

2. Dental dams: A barrier for added protection

Use a dental dam to minimise the risk of oral sex side effects. A dental dam is a small thin latex or plastic square that is used to prevent the spread of STIs. Basically, it will act as a barrier between the vagina and the mouth.

3. STI Testing: Maintaining sexual health

If you are practicing oral health, then you must undergo regular screenings of STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Also HIV testing is also recommended for people between the ages of 15 years to 65 years, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Oral sex is risky as it tends to involve licking the vagina. Hence, one is likely to come in contact with the vaginal fluids and faeces, increasing the chances of STIs,” explains gynaecologist and infertility expert Dr Krutika Makhija.

The pleasure comes with some risks. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Vaginal health risks associated with oral sex

If you are thinking that oral sex is dangerous, then it’s important to understand it  might  be, if you ignore the risks. Herpes is one of the biggest side effects of oral sex. There are two types of Herpes; oral herpes (blisters and cold sores around the mouth or nose) and genital herpes (pain, itching, and small sores on the genitals that turn into ulcers and scabs). It is possible to be infected with one of these STIs if infected fluids come in contact with any sores, cuts, or ulcers one may have. And this is what makes it a significant oral sex side effect.

Apart from herpes, other oral sex side effects includes other infections such as hepatitis A, B, C, gonorrhea, shigellosis, herpes, chlamydia, HIV, and syphilis can be passed on through oral sex.

Also read: Even oral sex can lead to an itchy vagina! Here’s how to prevent it

Even oral sex can give you STI such as Chlamydia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

“Consult your gynecologist immediately, if you suffer from STIs or any other infections”, Dr Makhija suggests.

Oral sex and UTI

Yes, oral sex can give you UTI. You don’t always need penetration for UTI. During oral sex, the bacteria from your colon and vagina can enter the urethra. This can result in an infection.

Also read: Can you get Chlamydia from oral sex?

The health benefits of oral sex

Oral sex is a great way for a couple to interact sexually without the need of actual penetration. Many couples enjoy oral sex and make it as part of their intimacy regime regularly.

  1. Helps you to de-stress, sleep better

    A study, conducted in Cell Journal, states that semen has melatonin, which is hormone that aids better sleep. Therefore, oral sex can help you get better sleep. However, it is more research that needs to be done on this.

  2. Helps stall the ageing process

    Semen contains something called spermidine, and this can help slow down the ageing process. This study, published in Nature Cell Biology, says that spermidine can actually be injected into cells to slow down ageing.

  3. Lower risk of breast cancer

    A study conducted in Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that women who take part in oral sex once or twice a week, are at a lower risk of breast cancer. It is believed that there are some chemicals in semen that can lower the risk.

Personal Choice and Respect for Values

While oral sex is commonly practiced amongst couples, it is very important to note that there must be a channel of honest communication. Therefore, one of the most important tips for oral sex is that both partners must sit and discuss what they are okay with and what is out of limits. Also, while you cannot get pregnant after oral sex, it does comes with its share of risks, and therefore, an informed decision must be taken. It is imperative to understand how both parties feel about oral sex.

FAQs about oral sex 

How long after oral sex does STD appear?

The incubation time for different STDs vary. Chlamydia takes 7-21 days, while genital herpes takes 2-12 days. Gonorrhea takes about 14 days to show symptoms and HIV takes about 2-4 weeks.

Can I get throat infection from giving oral sex?

While it is rare, there are some STIs that can spread through oral sex and lead to issues in your throat. One such STI is Chlamydia. This is known as pharyngeal chlamydia infection.

Which STD is not curable?

There are four types of STDs that are not curable. These are hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Is oral sex safe if both partners are clean?

Maintaining hygiene is one of the most important part of engaging in oral sex. If both partners are clean, the chances of catching an STD is low, but it is not impossible.

Is oral sex high or low risk?

When it comes to HIV, there is no risk of getting it through oral sex. However, other STIs and STDs can happen with oral sex, and the risk of those is high.

Can I have oral sex after teeth cleaning?

You should technically avoid engaging in oral sex after having any sort of dental work done. This increases the changes of STDs and STIs. The risk of gingivitis or gum disease can increase with oral sex.

Anjuri Nayar Singh

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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