Health risks of oral sex and how to protect yourself from it, according to an expert
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 25, 2023
When it comes to spicing things up between the sheets, adding oral sex to the act can definitely take the pleasure factor up by several notches. In fact, oral sex is the mainstay for the couples who fear an unwanted pregnancy due to sexual intercourse.
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Enter oral sex to the rescue! From touching each other’s sensitive points to simply going down on each other, oral sex can definitely add excitement to your sex life. But there’s more to it than just pleasure.
It isn’t as safe as you think it is “There is a lack of awareness about oral sex. Oral sex is not a hundred percent safe when it comes to your intimate and general health as it can cause infections,” says Dr. Sandeep Chaddha, a gynecologist at Motherhood Hospital, Noida.
Yes, you read that right. In fact, Dr. Chaddha is quick to list out some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that you can contract even through oral sex:
Human papillomavirus (HPV): This is a common virus that can affect both men and women. It usually spreads through skin-to-skin contact. This virus can affect the mouth, throat, and genital area, leading to the development of stem-like protrusions or warts on the affected area.
Herpes: Caused by the herpes simplex virus, this STI can spread through skin-to-skin contact very easily. In fact, in case your partner has a cold sore around the mouth (oral herpes), they can pass the infection on to your genital area during oral sex and vice versa. Herpes usually leads to sores, itching, and pain in the affected area.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): Caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), this sexually transmitted disease (STD), can be deadly as it attacks the immune system aggressively and can lead to fever, fatigue, recurrent infections, rapid weight loss, etc.
Even though the chances of transmission of HIV through oral sex are highly unlikely, if there’s an open wound/cut in the mouth or the genital area of an infected person, one can get infected as it usually spreads through blood.
Syphilis: This is a chronic bacterial disease that can be contracted by coming into direct contact with an infected person during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. There may be sores on your partner’s penis, vagina, anus, in the rectum, on their lips, and on their mouth. That’s exactly what can pass on the infection to you as well.
Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be spread through oral or penetrative sex and lead to pain in the genital area and lower abdomen, along with watery/puss-like discharge from the vagina/penis.
What makes you more prone to contracting an STI through oral sex? Despite a relatively lower chance of getting an STI through oral sex, many people still manage to get infected, thanks to their carelessness while practicing it.
Dr. Chaddha is quick to point out that the most common mistake made by people during oral sex is that they do not use protection while they’re at it.
“If you choose not to use protection during oral sex, then you should know that the risk of transmission of HIV and other STIs increases, especially if the person performing the act has cuts or sores in his/her mouth, or if the ejaculation of the infected person takes place in the mouth itself,” he warns.
“However, practicing safe sex can significantly reduce this risk,” he adds.
Another common mistake that Chaddha points out is having multiple sexual partners or simply not being aware of whether or not your partner is infected already before having oral or penetrative sex with him/her.
So, how can you keep yourself safe? “As a woman, you should not be afraid to prioritize your sexual health and safety,” says Dr. Chaddha.
“The best way to do so is to use barrier protection every time you have sex, both oral and penetrative,” he suggests.
Additionally, you must try to abstain from having sex until you are emotionally as well as physically ready and have ensured that your partner is not infected.
“Don’t hesitate or forget to ask your partner to get tested,” he concludes.
A little vigilance will go a long way when it comes to enjoying your sexual life!