anonymous on September 13, 2011

Can an upper respiratory infection be transmitted to someone during oral sex?

I have a cough that seems to be allergy-related, but it’s gotten worse so I’m getting it checked out. My question is, can an upper respiratory infection be transmitted either to or from someone during oral sex?

answered by Linda Lesondak, PhD on September 13, 2011

There’s a lot of confusion about how diseases spread, so I’m glad you shared your concern.
No, an upper respiratory infection (URI) is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD)...although kissing or other close, face-to-face contact can spread the infection. You can also become infected by handling objects touched by someone with an URI.
That said, if you’re worried that you might have been exposed to an STD through oral sex or other sexual activity, getting tested is the only way to know for sure. Keep in mind that most STDs don’t show any obvious signs or symptoms at first, but STD testing can confirm whether or not you have an STD. I would encourage you to learn more about STD risk factors and how to prevent STDs...including using latex condoms and dentals dams, and getting tested for STDs on a regular basis if you’re sexually active. 
Meanwhile, I’m glad to know that you’re going to get your cough checked out by a healthcare provider. If it turns out that you do have an URI, several non-prescription medicines are available to treat your symptoms. 
As well, to avoid spreading germs, I encourage you to cover your cough correctly...among several other pointers, the CDC’s Cover Your Cough campaign recommends coughing into the elbow or a tissue to prevent the spread of germs.
Related Info: 

Linda Lesondak, PhD

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.

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