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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/internal genitals, and clitoris (cunnilingus), penis/external genitals (blow job or fellatio), or anus (rimming or anilingus).

Some people enjoy oral sex, while other people do not. Some prefer to give or receive oral sex, but not the other way around. 

It is helpful to talk with your partner or partners to share what you like and find out what they like. This will help you decide what to avoid and what works best for everyone.

Oral sex and STIs

Some STIs can be passed through oral sex. If you have a herpes sore on your mouth or genitals, the virus can be passed to your partner’s genitals or mouth. It is possible to get parasites, shigellosis or hepatitis A through rimming (anilingus). 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 relatively low. For more information on oral sex and STIs, visit our Know Your Chances page. You cannot get pregnant from oral sex.

Preventing STIs

Barriers like condoms 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 partner has cuts or sores in/on the mouth or genitals.
  • Avoid flossing or brushing your teeth several hours before (and right after) oral sex so there are no open cuts in your mouth (or use mouthwash instead).
  • Suck and lick only the shaft and balls, avoiding the head of the penis.
  • Try not to take semen in your mouth. Either stop sucking before ejaculation, or have your partner withdraw before ejaculation.
  • 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 the smallest 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

Planned Parenthood - Information on different kinds of sex.
Scarleteen - Detailed information 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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