15 November 2007

Can oral sex lead to transmission of STIs?

I want to give my boyfriend a blow-job, but I am worried about the fluid coming from his penis, either before or after ejaculation. Can oral sex lead to transmission of sexually transmitted infections and can ingestion of that sperm be deleterious to your health?
Thank you.

JP Duc

Hi John,

Thank you for your question.

Oral sex can indeed lead to transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, or STI (sexually transmitted infections). If you want more information about these you can visit l’Actuel’s website. This website offers links to other online sites offering a description of these infections as well as the typical symptoms you get when infected. You can also visit Health Canada’s website.

Saliva as such is quite clean and is part of our body’s natural defenses, but small cuts, inflammatory lesions, sores and ulcers that someone may have in or around their mouth or in their genital areas does increase the risk of getting a STI. Also, if a person has had a STI or is not aware of having one, it could be transmitted to you during a sexual act like oral sex. Many of these infections have a latent period. This means that even if you are infected, you could be free of symptoms for a long time. This is why it is important to get tested regularly, especially if you have had recent contact with someone who is potentially at risk.

Having many sexual partners or having any type of unprotected sexual relationship with someone who has had many sexual partners increases the chances of getting an STI, and this applies as much to heterosexuals as to homosexuals.

The best approach to oral sex, if you have a partner with a penis, is to use a non-lubricated condom. For people with vulvas and for anulingus, a dental dam (the flat piece of latex dentists use) can be purchased at any pharmacy, or you can even cut open a non lubricated condom. In other words, swallowing pre-ejaculatory fluid or ejaculatory fluid (also called sperm or semen) is not recommended as these could transmit HIV. In a long-term, stable, monogamous relationship, you and your partner can get fully tested before initiating sexual activities such as oral sex or full intercourse; this however does not guarantee you will not get a STI… It is everyone’s personal responsibility whether gay or straight to protect themselves in a sexual relationship. Prevention is the best way to remain healthy.

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have more questions,

Jean-Pierre, for AlterHéros