Dr Sash | Is Oral Sex Safe?

A common misconception that society faces regarding sexual health is that oral sex is safe. Some people don’t even consider oral sex a risky sexual behaviour. Why? Mainly because we've always been told that safe sex involves genitalia and wearing a condom. The efforts of social media have solely focused on one aspect of transmission while completely ignoring others.

So, before we go into any further detail, let’s get the facts straight. Oral sex is a risky sexual behaviour that puts all participants in jeopardy of contracting numerous sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Oral sex is classified as any contact occurring between the genitalia and the mouth. The STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex includes oral herpes, genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis A, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Yes, this means that an individual with oral herpes (HSV-1) can transmit the virus to a sexual partner’s genitalia and vice versa. We know what herpes and warts look like. But what are the common symptoms of hepatitis A, oral chlamydia and gonorrhoea?

Individuals who have contracted hepatitis A usually exhibit symptoms at two to six weeks. Symptoms usually last for typically eight weeks and may include anything from nausea, vomiting, and fever, to diarrhoea, jaundice and abdominal pain. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Your body will clear the virus on its own and build immunity to future hep A infections.

People who have contracted either chlamydia or gonorrhoea from providing oral sex don’t always exhibit symptoms. However, in those who do, oral chlamydia and/or gonorrhoea is commonly characterised by a sore throat accompanied by a low-grade fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. The approach to treating oral chlamydia and gonorrhoea is the same as treating the disease if it were contracted via sexual intercourse; antibiotics.

Find out about your sexual health today! Get tested! Better safe than sorry.

This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2018.
Posted 6:26pm Thursday 26th July 2018 by Doctor Sash.