A mouthful on STIs 

You may not be aware of this, but some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be spread orally during fellatio, cunnilingus and analingus. Few things in life worth having or doing provide no risk. So this oversized text box is not designed to put anyone off of having and enjoying oral sex. Rather, it is a way of communicating the risk-factors and "ins and outs" (pardon the expression), so that if you decide to have oral sex, you can, with a better understanding of what is at risk.

Jogging in a bustling city can also be dangerous. It helps to familiarise yourself with information such as where traffic is bad at which time of the day; where treacherous potholes are to be found, and so on. This data allows you to make an informed decision if you should decide you want to grab your running togs and hit the streets. This info may not completely prevent you from getting hit by a bus, but it will significantly decrease the likelihood. Luckily, being infected with an STI is not nearly as dramatic or uncommon as getting splatted by a bus, and usually much easier to treat. So without further ado, here are some STI facts that apply to oral sex.

It's important to note that people infected with STIs may not present any symptoms at all. In these cases, there is still a risk of transmission with sex. You or your partner may have gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis or HPV (genital warts among other things), and show zero signs of it.

Herpes can be transmitted via the mouth, genitals or anus. As described above, you can still get infected by someone who has herpes, even if they demonstrate no symptoms like sores or blisters. Once you have herpes, you can never un-get it. But the frequency of recurrence is slower if your immune system is healthy

Another important STI associated with oral sex is gonorrhoea. Professor Remco Peters, clinical programme specialist at Anova Health Institute, says that it's hard to know just how long gonorrhoea can exist in the body without symptoms, particularly pharyngeal gonorrhoea. When symptoms do present, they are very hard to ignore, swollen and persistent throat infection or a painful penile discharge. You can get pharyngeal gonorrhoea by giving someone a blowjob, and you can get a penile infection from someone with pharyngeal gonorrhoea if they give you a blowjob. Chlamydia and syphilis can be transmitted in the same way, but oral infections are less common.

Hepatitis C and HIV , in relation to oral sex, is a bit different to Hep B, but they can all be transmitted orally, although very rare. Exposure to semen, HIV, and blood (HCV) are important risk factors.

Rimming your partner (analingus) or touching their anus and then touching your mouth could put you at risk of hepatitis A or other enteric infections transmitted faeco-orally (even Salmonella!), which is transmitted orally via tiny amounts of fecal matter (shit) being ingested that you may not be able to see with the naked eye.

Lines of Defence

You can minimise the likelihood of getting infected by any of the infections mentioned above by doing the following:

  • Use a condom, or possibly even a dental dam; it would reduce the risk for most STIs, but is generally not done/feasible
  • Avoid oral sex if either of you present any blisters, cuts, sores or a rash. Also, avoid oral sex if either of you has inflamed or unhealed piercings on your genitals or anywhere else
  • Avoid giving oral sex to a woman who has her period
  • Avoid exposure to semen

If you or your partner have an STI, you may both need to be treated at the same time to ensure that you don't infect or reinfect one another, and if one of you is HIV-positive, you should go on ARVs.

Now you have a bit of insight into the lay of the land when it comes to STIs and how to enjoy oral sex in a safer way, but if you have suddenly and inexplicably lost any desire you may have had to go for a jog, I don't blame you.

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