Anonymous on August 8, 2011

Can I get hepatitis from giving my partner analingus?

My wife enjoys analingus when I perform it on her. It doesn’t bother me, but I am wondering if I can contract hepatitis from doing this. What are the risks? Does she have to be a carrier for hepatitis in order for me to get it from analingus?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on August 8, 2011

I’m glad you asked these questions. Analingus or “rimming” can be pleasurable for many people, but its potential risks aren’t often discussed.

Yes, hepatitis is an STD that can be transmitted with analingus. The types of hepatitis most likely to be transmitted in this way are hepatitis A and hepatitis B. And you’re correct that your wife would have to have hepatitis for you to contract a hepatitis virus in this way.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you and your wife to discuss STD testing with each other and with a doctor. To be on the safe side, you may both want to be tested for hepatitis A and B. You may also want to talk to your doctor about testing for some common STDs so that, if one or both of you is infected, you can get treated and avoid potentially serious complications down the road.

Remember, it’s possible to have hepatitis or other STDs without showing any obvious signs or symptoms...getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you’re infected. The good news is that vaccines are available to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B...and most adults infected with hepatitis A or B fully recover with antiviral medications.

Are there other risks of analingus? Yes. Besides potentially getting infected with a hepatitis virus, there’s a risk of transmitting STDs through oral-anal contact. It’s possible for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HIV and HPV to be transmitted through this kind of sexual activity.

Also, remember that the anus is connected to the digestive tract. That means there are many specialized bacteria near the anus...bacteria that should not come into contact with your wife’s vagina. So after performing analingus, be sure to wash with soap and water anything that has touched her anus...including your fingers, tongue, penis and any sex toys that you may have used.

Another potential risk of analingus is giardiasis, an infection of the small intestine caused by the microscopic parasite Giardia.

You can help protect yourself during oral-anal sex with a dental dam. To help avert the risks I mentioned above, a latex dental dam can be used when performing condoms, dental dams go a long way toward to preventing transmission of STDs and other harmful viruses and bacteria. You might also want to learn more about hepatitis B and STD Prevention + Safer Sex in our expert guides.

Thanks for your question...and I hope you and your wife stay safe and healthy.

Lisa Oldson, MD

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.

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