How risky is unprotected oral sex?
What is the risk of contracting STDs through oral sex with a man who is not wearing a condom? Is the risk reduced if I don’t swallow the ejaculate?
Lisa Oldson, MD on September 16, 2011
Thanks for sharing your concern with us. Allow me to help...
Unprotected oral sex is risky. Although your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection by giving someone unprotected oral sex is lower than if you have unprotected vaginal or anal sex, you’re still at risk. In fact, even without ejaculation, it’s possible to get most sexually transmitted infections when you give someone oral sex without a condom. The most common STDs that can be caught orally include gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis.
Lots of people think oral sex is safe sex, but it’s not without risk. Using a barrier for oral sex, like a condom if you give oral sex to a man or a dental dam if you give oral sex to a woman, greatly reduces your risk.
Bottom line: if you’re sexually active ⎼ especially if you’re not in a mutually monogamous relationship in which you and your partner know each other’s sexual history ⎼ be sure to practice safer sex, and get tested for common STDs regularly. That way, if it turns out that you test positive for an STD at some point, you’ll be in a position to get treated promptly before you develop potential complications from an untreated infection.
You can learn more about STDs and how to reduce your in our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
I wish you good luck, and I hope you’ll continue to be proactive about your sexual health.
Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.