April is STD awareness month. What are STD’s? They are infections that are transmitted through sexual acts. Most people don’t realize that this includes oral sex.

First, let’s define oral sex … according to the CDC “oral sex” involves using mouth, lips, or tongue to stimulate the penis, vagina, or anus of a sexual partner. Oral sex is a common sex practice in many sexually active adults. 85% of sexually active adults ages 18-44 reported having oral sex at least once with a partner of the opposite sex and as many as 33% of teenage girls and boys aged 15-17 reported having oral sex partner of the opposite sex.

The STD’s that can be transmitted through oral sex are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV (human papillomavirus), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and trichomoniasis.

Symptoms of STD’s include vaginal or penile discharge, burning with urination, sores or lesions in the mouth, on the genitals or anus, rash, flu-like symptoms, headache, or feer. It is possible to have an STD without symptoms.

Many people think that oral sex is safer … well, not exactly. Infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause throat infections. HIV and syphilis can cause systemic infections. These are factors that can increase the chances of contracting STD’s through oral sex. These include:

  1. Having poor oral health — decay, gum disease, bleeding gums or oral cancer.
  2. Having visible sores in the mouth or genitals
  3. Exposure to pre-ejaculate or ejaculate of an infected partner.

There are ways to prevent the spread of STD’s during oral sex. Using a non-lubricated latex (or polyurethane) condom to cover the penis. For oral sex on the vagina or anus using a dental dam or cutting a condom to make it square, then placing it over the vagina or anus.