STIs and Oral Sex

Can someone be infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from oral sex? Yes. Many STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, can be spread through oral sex. However, the chances of giving or getting STIs during oral sex can be lowered by using a condom or dental dam.

By definition, oral sex is when someone puts his or her lips, mouth or tongue on a man’s penis, a woman’s genitals (including the clitoris, vulva, and vaginal opening), or the anus of another person. There are different terms used to describe types of oral sex:

  • Fellatio is the technical term used to describe oral contact with the penis.
  • Cunnilingus describes oral contact with the clitoris, vulva or vaginal opening.
  • Anilingus (sometimes called “rimming”) refers to oral contact with the anus.

Oral sex is common among sexually active adults. As with other types of sexual activity, oral sex can transmit STIs. It may be possible to get some STIs in the mouth or throat from giving oral sex to a partner with a genital or anal/rectal infection, particularly from giving fellatio.

It also may be possible to get certain STIs on the penis, and possibly the vagina, anus or rectum, from receiving oral sex from a partner with a mouth or throat infection. It’s possible to have an STI in more than one area, for example in the throat and the genitals.

STIs Transmitted Through Oral Sex

Preventing STIs

The chances of giving or getting STIs during oral sex can be lowered by using a condom, dental dam or other barrier method each and every time a person has oral sex:

For fellatio (mouth-to-penis contact):

  • Cover the penis with a non-lubricated latex condom.
  • Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms, if a partner is allergic to latex.

For cunnilingus (mouth-to-vagina contact) and anilingus (mouth to anus contact):

  • Use a dental dam, or
  • Cut open a condom to make a square, and put it between the mouth and the partner’s vagina or anus.

Sexually active individuals should get tested regularly for STIs and HIV, and talk to all partner(s) about STIs. Anyone who thinks that he/she might have an STI should stop having sex and visit a doctor or clinic to get tested. There are free and low-cost options for testing available. It is important to talk openly with a health care provider about any activities that might put a person at risk for an STI, including oral sex.

More to Explore

Oklahoma legislature

Oklahoma Bill Would Criminalize STIs

The Oklahoma House recently passed a bill making it a crime to intentionally or recklessly spread several STIs. Those found guilty would be convicted of a felony and punished with between two and five years in prison.

Join us for a discussion of Dr. Tang’s new book, It’s Not Hysteria Everything You Need to Know About Your Reproductive Health (but Were Never Told), and ask Dr. Tang your questions about reproductive health!