STIs can be transmitted during oral sex, so it is extremely important for you to protect yourself. There are ways to reduce your risk of transmitting STIs during oral sex, and I will break them down in just a minute.
First, it's important to know the real risks – there are several sexually transmitted infections that you can either pass on or contract through oral sex.
(If your partner has throat chlamydia, it can be spread to you through oral sex. If you perform oral sex on your partner who has chlamydia, you can contract it this way too.)
The ones that can be transmitted orally are:
Chlamydia (sometimes can be present without symptoms so be careful!)
Gonorrhoea (can also sometimes be present without symptoms)
Syphilis (can sometimes present with symptoms, sometimes without)
Herpes (Both HSV-1 and HSV-2)
HPV (Can be in your body without harming it before your body clears it, but can also have symptoms in some rarer strains)
Trichomoniasis (may not cause symptoms orally, but may in your genitals)
HIV (it's unknown how often it can be transmitted orally, with different sources saying different things but I'm going to put it on this list just so that you know it can be possible.)
How to protect yourself and your partner:
The most effective method is to just not have sex, but that's no fun! There are other things that you can do while having sex that can protect you.
Only have oral sex if you're in a mutually monogamous relationship to minimise the risks.
If you're in a monogamous relationship, get tested regularly, and make sure your partner does too.
These next methods will protect you and whoever you chose to engage in oral sex with, whether you're in a relationship or not.
If you or your partner has a penis, use a condom. It can sometimes seem unnecessary for oral sex, but actually, it's quite important. This is why there are flavoured options available! They are meant to be used during oral sex as not only do they block the spread of STIs through genital fluids, but they also stop the spread of STIs through skin-to-skin contact. Condoms are an excellent way to lower your overall STI risk.
If you or your partner have a vagina, use a dental dam. It's a square sheet of thin material that acts as a barrier between the vagina and the other person's mouth by covering the labia and the clitoris, and essentially does the same thing as a condom.
Make sure you and your partner have good oral hygiene – having poor oral health can lead to tooth decay, bleeding gums or gum disease and can create an easier pathway for STI transmission. Using condoms and dental dams are very important but making sure your oral hygiene is in good shape is also a priority.
Whether you're practising oral sex in a relationship or with other sexual partners, please get tested regularly. It's also important to have the conversation with the person you're going to engage in oral sex with about the last time you both got tested. I know it can be awkward and hard to have this conversation, but you will be thankful in the long run.
It's important to learn what the symptoms are for each of these STIs. It's very important that you do not let symptoms go untreated for an extended period, as this can lead to other serious issues.