Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Do condoms protect against STDs during oral sex?
Linda Lesondak, PhD on August 15, 2011
First, you’re right that using a condom when you receive oral sex from a prostitute is safer than not wearing one. Likewise, if you perform oral sex on a female prostitute, I encourage you to use a latex dental damn to avoid possible exposure to a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Condoms and dental dams go a long way toward protecting you and your partner(s) from spreading STDs (and preventing an unwanted pregnancy). They help protect you during oral sex in addition to vaginal or anal sex. That said, condoms and dental dams don’t offer 100% protection.
For example, if any sexual partner – prostitute or not – has oral herpes, it is possible for the herpes virus to be transmitted to your genitals even if you’re wearing a condom. Why? Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. A partner with oral herpes can spread the virus to your genitals during oral sex if your partner’s mouth comes into contact with any area of your genitals that isn’t covered by a condom.
What’s tricky about STDs is that most people who are infected don’t show any signs or symptoms for a long time. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 50 million Americans have genital herpes...but only about 10% of those people are aware of their infection.
Bottom line: practicing safer sex and regular testing for common STDs is incredibly important...especially for people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors (e.g., multiple sexual partners whose history of STDs you don’t know).
Sex (including oral, vaginal or anal) with prostitutes, in particular, puts you at a higher risk for STDs. In fact, it’s so risky that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires would-be blood donors who have had sex with a prostitute – male or female – to wait a full year after that encounter to be considered eligible.
To learn more about STD risk factors, prevention and testing, you may want to browse our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
In the meantime, I wish you good luck and good health...and I hope that you’ll continue to reduce your risk of catching an STD.
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.