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Questions and Answers

Safer Oral Sex: What Are My Options?

satisfied-looking lube cartoon with safer sex gloves

Many people enjoy giving and receiving oral sex for sexual pleasure. Oral sex involves using your mouth to stimulate your partner’s genitals. This can include their vulva (the parts outside the vagina), penis, anus, or any other surrounding areas.

Like all types of sex, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can spread through oral sex.  Luckily, there are easy ways to lower your chances of getting an STI or giving one to your partner while still having great oral sex!

What STIs can I get from oral sex?

Some STIs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis, can pass from the genitals to the mouth or throat, or from the mouth and throat to the genitals. These STIs are passed through contact between the skin inside/around the mouth and the skin or fluids from the genitals.

It’s also possible to pass HIV and hepatitis B and C through oral sex, but the risk is much lower. This can only happen if there are open cuts, sores, or gingivitis (inflamed gums) in the mouth. These STIs need to get into the blood to be passed between partners.

What about condoms?

For oral sex on a penis, you can use an external condom. There are many types of condoms, so you can experiment to find a condom that feels the best! Many companies sell thinner condoms. These are just as effective as thicker condoms at preventing STIs. Putting some lube inside the tip of the condom can also make it feel better!

Some people don’t like the taste of latex condoms, so they use flavoured lube or flavoured condoms. Everyone’s flavour preferences are different, so try a few and see what tastes the best! Keep in mind that flavoured lube or condoms with sugar in them can cause a vaginal or anal yeast infection. So check the box before using a flavoured product for vaginal or anal sex!

Remember, it’s always best to use a new condom when switching between oral, vaginal or anal sex to prevent infections

Dental dam? What’s that?

For oral sex on a vulva or anus, you can use a dental dam. These are rectangular pieces of latex that you lay over either the vulva or anus. They are barriers that prevent STIs from passing through.
You can get dental dams from the Gender Advocacy Centre, Kontak, and some pharmacies and sex toy shops. You can also make one yourself from a condom or glove! Like condoms, if you’re going to switch between the anus and the vulva, you should use a new dental dam

Should I get tested?

Before giving or receiving oral sex, check for sores on the penis, vulva, or anus. These may be a sign of an STI, and can often go unnoticed. Also, many people who have STIs don’t show any signs or symptoms, so getting tested between sexual partners is the best way to know if you have an STI. There are many places in Montreal that you can get tested.

Can I get pregnant from oral sex?

You can’t get pregnant from just oral sex. To get pregnant, semen from the penis (released during ejaculation/orgasm) needs to get on or in the vagina. Any semen that may be swallowed during oral sex would be digested by stomach acid. Also, there’s no way for sperm to get from your stomach to your reproductive organs.

Other tips for safer oral sex

To lower your risk of STIs…

  • Avoid taking semen (cum from a penis) into your mouth, swallowing it, or cumming in someone’s mouth. Some STIs have a higher risk from semen than from pre-cum (the clear fluid that comes out of an erect penis).
  • Avoid giving oral sex if you have a cold sore or chancre sore. STIs are more likely to spread between people when there are open sores.
  • Try not to give oral sex if you have bleeding gums, tooth abscesses, or have just gone to the dentist.
  • Wait 30 minutes after brushing your teeth before giving oral sex. Brushing your teeth can create small tears in your gums that allow STIs in.

If you want fresh breath, you can chew gum or use mouthwash! Remember to use chewing gum without sugar if you’re giving oral sex on a vulva or anus since sugars can cause yeast infections.

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