Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Can I get pregnant from oral sex? Can I catch a disease?
Linda Lesondak, PhD on September 12, 2011
First, take comfort in the knowledge that you cannot become pregnant through oral sex...with or without a condom. Women can only become pregnant when a sperm enters the vagina during ovulation (when an egg is released).
Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. So in a woman with a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation would begin about 14 days after the day her last period begins. A woman is most likely to become pregnant if she has unprotected sex in the days before ovulation.
That said, it is possible to catch an STD through oral sex...even if you do use a condom, although the risk is greatly reduced. Genital herpes and some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact (even if signs of the disease aren’t apparent). Luckily, using a condom reduces the risk of catching one of these STDs so it’s smart to continue using a condom.
Using protection isespecially important if you have more than one sexual partner, or if your partner is someone whose sexual history you don’t know...in fact, when used correctly and consistently, latex condoms greatly reduce the risk of pregnancy, as well as the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
However, condoms aren’t foolproof...even if you’re diligent about practicing safer sex, there’s still a chance of pregnancy or catching an STD (e.g., if a condom breaks or doesn’t entirely cover an infected area). And unless you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship (where both partners only have sex with each other) and both of you are STD-free, it’s a good idea to get tested for STDs on a regular basis.
If you test negative, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re STD-free. If you test positive for an STD, you can get treated and take precautions to avoid spreading a disease to others.
If you’re interested to learn more about STD risk factors, prevention and testing, you’ll find more information in our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
Hopefully this information helps put your mind at ease. Thanks for your question.
Dr. Lesondak is a Community Psychologist with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Her areas of expertise include STDs, HIV, preventive care, public health and community planning, as well as human sexuality and women’s health. Dr. Lesondak was educated at Georgia University in Atlanta.