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Oral sex

Oral sex is when a person stimulates their partner’s genitals with their mouth, lips or tongue. Oral sex can include licking or sucking a person’s vulva, vagina or internal genitals, clitoris (cunnilingus), penis or external genitals (blow job or fellatio), or anus (rimming or anilingus).

People have different preferences with how they enjoy giving and/or receiving oral sex, and some people do not enjoy oral sex. It is helpful to talk with your partners about your sexual needs and desires.

Oral sex and STIs

Some STIs can be passed through oral sex. For example, herpes sores on the mouth or genitals can pass the virus to a partner’s genitals or mouth. Syphilis, HPV, chlamydia and gonorrhea can all be passed with unprotected oral sex. However, the chance of getting or passing HIV through oral sex is low. Parasites, shigellosis and hepatitis A can be passed through rimming (oral sex on an anus). You cannot get pregnant from oral sex.

For more information on oral sex and STIs, visit our Know Your Chances page.

Preventing STIs

  • Barriers like condoms or dental dams are the best way to stop STIs during oral sex. If you don’t use a barrier, there are a number of other ways lower your chances of STIs:
  • Avoid having oral sex if you or your partners have cuts or sores in or on the mouth or genitals.
  • Wash the anal area before rimming.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly – this may include throat swabs for chlamydia and gonorrhea. If you are diagnosed with an STI, make sure that you and your partners are properly treated.
  • Make sure your hepatitis vaccines are up-to-date. Hepatitis A can be spread by a small amount of feces and hepatitis B can be spread through semen, vaginal and rectal fluids. There are vaccines available for both hepatitis A and B.

Resources

Scarleteen - Mouthing Off On Oral Sex
San Francisco Sex Information - Information on cunnilingus
San Francisco Sex Information - Information on fellatio (blow jobs)
AVERT.org - Tips on how to have oral sex

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