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Is Oral Sex Really Safer Sex?

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Oral sex popularity and its health implications

By Rawlings Oke Godwin

On 8 Jan, 2022

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People frequently believe that oral sex is safer than penetrative sex, yet “condomless” intercourse of any kind is inherently dangerous. If you don’t take the proper precautions, you run the danger of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


HIV And Oral Sex

When compared to sexual activity, oral sex is a comparatively low-risk behaviour for HIV transmission.

HIV can be transmitted during oral intercourse, despite the fact that this is a rare occurrence.

External condoms made of latex or polyurethane, internal condoms, dental dams, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are all effective strategies to minimise your risk of catching HIV when having oral sex.


If you prefer oral intercourse over physical protection, you should be aware that your risk of HIV transmission rises:

  • Individual doing the act has oral wounds or sores.
  • Ejaculation occurs in the mouth.
  • If the person having oral sex has any other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Herpes And Oral Sex

Although separate strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2 and HSV-1, respectively) are primarily responsible for vaginal and oral herpes, either virus can infect either site.

As a result, herpes can be transmitted during oral sex. Unlike HIV, the herpes virus can easily be transmitted from one partner to the other during oral intercourse.

Herpes is considerably dangerous during oral intercourse, and it can even develop without symptoms. Condoms and other barriers, both external and internal, can dramatically minimise the risk of herpes transmission during oral sex.

External and internal condoms, on the other hand, are ineffective because the virus can transfer from skin to skin.

Prophylactic drugs like Zovirax (acyclovir) can help to lower the risk of outbreaks and transmission of the herpes virus to your partner, but they can’t completely remove it.


Herpes can exist without causing symptoms.

Some people with herpes don’t have any clear or consistent symptoms, making it difficult to detect the disease in a sexual partner.

People with asymptomatic herpes should be educated on how to recognise a flare-up, according to CDC guidelines on sexually transmitted infections, which were most recently updated in 2021.


Papillomavirus (HPV) And Oral Sex

Human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted through oral sex. In fact, HPV acquired during oral intercourse is thought to be a substantial risk factor for oral and throat malignancies, as well as for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Vertical transmission can also cause HPV to emerge in the oral cavity.

Similar to herpes, it appears that using external or internal condoms or dental dams during oral intercourse will minimise the risk of infection, but not completely eliminate it.

HPV, like herpes, is transferred by skin-to-skin contact rather than body fluids.



Teenagers with gonorrhoea-related throat infections have been in the headlines a lot recently. When oral intercourse is done on a penis, gonorrhoea can be spread in both directions.


Gonorrhoea throat infections are notoriously difficult to treat.

However, because the infection occurs in the cervix, transfer in the opposite direction is improbable. This is a portion of the female anatomy that is rarely seen during cunnilingus.

Condoms, both external and internal, as well as dental dams, should be particularly successful in preventing gonorrhoea transmission during oral sex.



During fellatio, chlamydia can be transmitted, putting both the recipient and the person conducting oral sex at risk. There has been little investigation into whether chlamydia can be transmitted during intercourse; nevertheless, because the diseases are so similar, the infection risk is likely to be similar to that of gonorrhoea.



Syphilis is very easy to spread during oral sex. The per-act risk of syphilis from oral sex in the United States is roughly 1%, which is a considerable number given the prevalence of oral sex among young sexually active persons.

Although syphilis can only be transferred if there are symptoms, the painless sores it creates during the early and later phases of the disease are easy to ignore. As a result, many people are unaware that they have syphilis symptoms until they pass it on to their partners.


Hepatitis B is a virus that causes liver disease.

The research on whether hepatitis B can be transferred through oral intercourse is inconclusive. However, oral-anal contact is unquestionably a risk factor for hepatitis A infection. It could also put you at risk for hepatitis B.

Hepatitis A and B, fortunately, can be prevented with vaccines. If you practise rimming, you should discuss getting immunised with your doctor. In any event, vaccination is suggested, and the hepatitis B vaccine is currently recommended for all children and many adult groups.



safe sex

What are the symptoms and indicators of STIs in the mouth?

  • Sores or blisters in or around the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Redness in the mouth or throat
  • White patches in the mouth
  • Inflamed tonsils or lymph nodes are all signs of STIs in the mouth.

However, there may be no signs at all, which is why you should use prophylactic devices like external and internal condoms to protect yourself.


While Oral sex is the go-to for some people, if you happen to enjoy oral sex, always consider the likely negative side of it.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

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