1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Can You Get an STD From Oral Sex?

Is Oral Sex Risky


Can You Get an STD From Oral Sex?
Can You Get an STD From Oral Sex?

Dental Dam Placement

Image © Glyde USA

Oral sex refers to any contact between the mouth of one person and the genitals of another, oral sex is a perfectly normal sexual activity that can feel nice for both partners. And while many people enjoy oral sex,  a lot of teens (and adults) wonder if you really need to use a condom or dental dam for it.

Partly due to this uncertainty, plenty of folks don't bother doing so. But it is actually a really good idea to use a condom for oral sex on a penis and a dam for oral sex on a vulva or for anal oral contact . This is because you can actually contract almost all of the same sexually transmitted infections from oral that you can get from anal and vaginal sex! Plus, both the person giving oral sex as well as the person receiving it can be exposed to a variety of infections.

However, it should be noted that the risk of certain infections, particularly, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is actually significantly lower from oral sex than it is from vaginal or anal sex. But since transmission is still a possibility, that's a risk a lot of young people don't want to take. 

Here are the specifics what you need to know!

Oral Sex on a Vulva

Oral sex on a vulva is called cunnilingus. A slang term for cunnilingus is "going down" on someone. This is a really low risk activity for HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). But cunnilingus puts you at significant risk for things that can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, like herpes.

To reduce your risk, you can use a latex barrier (aka: a dental dam) over the vulva.

Oral Sex on a Penis

Oral sex on a penis, is called fellatio or a blow job. It is a lower risk activity for HIV transmission than is vaginal or anal sex, but it is a higher risk than cunnilingus. Oral sex on a penis also puts you at risk for infections like herpes and gonorrhea.

The best way to reduce your risk is to use a condom. If you aren't using condom, avoid taking a partner's body fluids into your mouth.


Analingus, or rimming, refers to using your mouth on a partner's anus. Analingus isn't generally a risk for HIV. However, it can expose you to a number of parasites and can put you at risk for hepatitis.

You can use a dental dam over the anus to help reduce your risk.

So while oral sex is considered a lower risk activity for STDs than are anal and vaginal sex, it is still possible to get an STD whether you are giving or getting oral sex.

You should also keep in mind that it is always a good idea to get tested for sexually transmitted infections any time you have a new sex partner.  Here's more on that. 

Many people enjoy oral sex, and that is perfectly fine. Just make sure to take some safety precautions!


©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.