Speak to a Counselor

Can You Get an STD from Oral Sex? What You Need to Know About Oral Sex STI Risks

According to the World Health Organization, sexual partners transmit over 1 million STIs daily. 

You may know that an STI can spread through vaginal or anal sex, but can you get an STD from oral sex? The answer is yes. While most sexually active adults engage in oral sex, many are still unaware that it can spread STIs. 

In this article, we’ll outline what oral sex is and how safe it is. We’ll also look at the main STIs transmitted by oral sex, such as HPV, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Finally, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to stay safe while enjoying an active sex life. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we’re committed to educating our community on how to avoid STIs and how to practice safe sex. If you’re worried that you’ve contracted an STI, we’re here to help. Our Rapid STD Test includes same-day results for peace of mind. Your sexual health and wellbeing are always our number one priority. 

What is Oral Sex? 

Oral sex is when one person stimulates another person’s genitals or anus with their mouth, lips, or tongue. Three main terms describe these different types of oral sex.

1 .Fellatio is oral sex that stimulates a penis.

2 .Cunnilingus describes oral sex performed on a woman’s genitals.  

3 .Anilingus is when oral sex stimulates the anus. 

While it’s very common for sexually active adults to engage in oral sex, it can also carry certain risks. 

If you are in a monogamous relationship and both you and your partner have tested negative for STIs, then oral sex is very safe. However, if you have multiple sexual partners who are not being tested regularly, you’re at risk for contracting an STI from oral sex. 

Some STIs, such as chlamydia and HPV, can have no detectable symptoms. Unfortunately, they can still have serious health complications for both men and women.

How Safe is Oral Sex Compared to Vaginal Sex? 

When some people think of STIs, they think they are infections spread through vaginal sex alone. While certain sexually transmitted diseases transmit more readily through vaginal or anal sex, many STIs also spread through oral sex. 

It’s essential for everyone to understand that oral sex does not equal safe sex. When it comes to HIV, you are much less likely to contract it from unprotected oral sex than you are from unprotected vaginal sex. However, the risk of infection from any STI increases in certain circumstances, including:

  • The partner performing oral sex has an open cut or sore in their mouth.
  • The receiving partner has other STIs. 
  • The receiving partner ejaculates in the performing partner’s mouth.

Apart from HIV, most other STIs spread just as readily through oral sex as through vaginal sex.

Can You Get Chlamydia from Oral Sex?

Chlamydia spreads more easily through vaginal and anal sex, but you can still get it from oral sex. While you can spread or contract chlamydia through cunnilingus and anilingus, it is more likely that you’ll contract oral chlamydia from performing or receiving fellatio. 

Complications from Oral Chlamydia

Oral chlamydia can appear as a mouth or throat infection after oral sex with an infected partner. Oral chlamydia is most often symptomless, but the main symptom is a sore throat.  

If left untreated, you can spread your oral chlamydia to future sexual partners when you perform oral sex on them. Your partners can then develop genital chlamydia, which leads to infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease in women and epididymitis in men. Epididymitis refers to inflammation in the testicles, which doctors treat with antibiotics.

Oral STI Types and Complications 

At Rapid STD Testing, we understand that many people have significant gaps in their knowledge regarding oral STIs.

Can you get an STD from oral sex? We know that you can, but what specific STDs can you get? And what are the signs of STDs in your mouth? Let’s look at each specific STD to learn more. 

Gonorrhea 

Gonorrhea is known colloquially as the clap, and it’s a common STI that affects about 2.2% of the general population and nearly 6.5% of gay and bisexual men. You can contract the clap from any kind of oral sex, even if a male partner doesn’t ejaculate. 

You can get gonorrhea in the throat if you perform cunnilingus or fellatio. If a partner has oral gonorrhea, they can also spread it by giving oral sex to another partner. This can lead to genital gonorrhea in the receiving partner.

In most cases, oral gonorrhea is symptomless, but it can cause an initial sore throat. Symptoms of genital gonorrhea are more severe and can include:

  • Discharge from the penis or anus
  • Bloody discharge from the vagina
  • Sore and swollen testicles
  • Pain when urinating

If you have untreated oral gonorrhea, it can cause disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). DGI first appears as a rash and joint pain, but it can become life-threatening as it spreads to the heart. 

Genital gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, premature birth in pregnant women, and epididymitis in men. 

Gonorrhea is typically easy to treat with a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, gonorrhea is quickly developing drug resistance, so your doctor might have to use several different treatments. 

Genital Herpes 

You have a very high risk of developing herpes on your mouth, lips, or throat if you give oral sex to a partner who has herpes on their genitals or anus. If you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes, you can also contract genital herpes. 

Herpes causes painful or itchy sores at the site of infection. Signs of an initial infection include a fever or headache, but these symptoms fade quickly. 

The symptoms of genital and oral herpes typically come and go, with outbreaks usually happening when you are sick or under stress. While there is no cure for herpes, your doctor can give you antiviral medicine to shorten an attack. 

Even if you take antiviral medicine for a herpes outbreak, you can still spread herpes to sexual partners. The virus is still active even when you aren’t experiencing an outbreak. Herpes also spreads via skin contact, so condoms and dental dams are not 100% effective at preventing the virus from spreading. 

Syphilis 

Can you get an STD from oral sex? Yes, syphilis transmits incredibly easily through oral sex, but the risk of contracting it is relatively low. If you perform or receive oral sex, you have about a 1% chance of contracting the infection. 

The initial symptoms of syphilis are easy to miss, if you have any symptoms at all. Most people don’t detect the painless ulcers that develop on the site of infections. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of syphilis are serious. 

Syphilis can cause organ damage, blindness, dementia, and eventually death if left untreated. It can also lead to stillbirth in pregnant women. Luckily, syphilis is treatable with antibiotics. 

HPV 

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a very common STI that spreads readily through oral sex. The main symptom of HPV is the development of warts at the site of infection, although many people experience no symptoms. 

People with HPV in their mouth or throats are at a higher risk of developing mouth and throat cancer. Genital HPV can also develop into cancer, even if no warts are present.  

There is no cure for HPV, but your doctor may use cryotherapy and surgery to remove warts. If you have HPV, you should also schedule regular screenings for cancer cells. 

While there is no cure, there is an effective HPV vaccine. Girls and boys aged 11 or 12 can receive the vaccine, and unvaccinated adults as old as 26 should also get it. 

Less Frequent STI Types 

Gonorrhea, genital herpes, syphilis, and HPV are the most commons types of STIs you can contract through oral sex. Still, there are other infections to keep in mind. Oral chlamydia, HIV, and genital warts are less common STIs with serious consequences. 

Oral Chlamydia 

Most oral chlamydia patients contract the infection from performing fellatio. Your chance of contracting chlamydia from oral sex is relatively low, but it is still possible. Condoms and dental dams are very effective, and they can lower that chance even more. 

The main symptom of oral chlamydia is a sore throat, but there are usually no symptoms. When left untreated, oral chlamydia can spread to other partners, and it can cause arthritis and premature birth for pregnant women. 

Because oral chlamydia is often symptomless, Rapid STD Testing recommends sexually active adults get tested regularly. 

HIV 

In general, oral sex is a low-risk activity for contracting HIV, but it is still possible. 

You are most at risk for contracting HIV from oral sex if you have an open cut or sore in your mouth and your partner ejaculates in your mouth. Using condoms and dental dams during oral sex lowers your risk even more. 

Many people who develop HIV go years without symptoms. Even if the flu-like symptoms are present, they can be difficult to identify as HIV. There is no cure for HIV, but treatment options are available. 

HIV-positive people take antiviral medicine that successfully extends their life and lowers their risk of developing severe infections. Even with treatment, people with HIV have a high risk of developing cancer and serious illness. 

Genital Warts 

While genital warts originate from a strain of HPV, they are not the same as HPV. The human papillomavirus can cause cells to mutate and eventually develop into cancer. HPV strains that cause genital warts do not develop into cancer and are considered relatively low-risk.

Genital warts are usually small and flesh-colored. They can develop on the vagina, anus, penis, or testicles and are painless. You can treat genital warts at home with creams. Doctors usually treat genital warts by freezing them off, burning them off, or surgically removing them.

Factors that Can Affect the Chances of Getting STD from Oral Sex 

When it comes to getting an STD from oral sex, there are many factors at play. Of course, visiting a Rapid STD Testing clinic with your partner for same-day std testing is the most sure-fire way to avoid getting or passing on an STD. 

Performing oral sex with open sores or cuts in your mouth, having your partner ejaculate in your mouth, and not using condoms or dental dams can all increase your risk of contracting an STD from oral sex. 

While saliva does not contain STDs, many diseases transmit through skin-to-skin contact or bodily fluids like semen and vaginal fluids. 

STDs that spread through skin-to-skin contact include genital herpes, syphilis, and HPV. These infections transmit readily through oral sex, and they can spread even if you use a condom or dental dam. 

Gonorrhea, oral chlamydia, and HIV spread through bodily fluids, so using protection can substantially lower your risk of infection. Your risk is even lower if your partner doesn’t ejaculate in your mouth and if you make sure that you don’t have open cuts or sores. 

Best Practices for Safe Oral Sex 

To protect yourself from STIs and retain good oral health, you should always practice safe oral sex with every sexual partner. 

Get Tested 

If you’re sexually active, you should get tested regularly for STIs. Visit a Rapid STD Testing clinic to get a quick and effective 10-panel STD test. Protect yourself and your partners by making sure you’re clear of the most common STDs.  

Practice Safe Sex

Use condoms and dental dams when performing or receiving oral sex. While condoms and dental dams don’t offer 100% protection against skin-to-skin STIs like genital herpes and HPV, they do substantially reduce your risk of contracting an infection. 

Don’t Get Bested, Get Tested!

The clinical team at Rapid STD Testing is here to help you enjoy a happy and healthy sex life for years to come. Can you get an STD from oral sex? Yes, but practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly for STIs protects you, your current partners, and your future partners. 

Why worry about STIs when you can take action? Our comprehensive STI tests are fast, effective, and stress-free. Call us today at (866) 870-1888 to order a test or visit a Rapid STD Testing center near you.