Oral sex

Oral sex is a medium-risk activity for most sexually transmitted infections. You can find out how to reduce the health risks from oral sex here.

What is oral sex?

Oral sex is when the mouth is used to stimulate someone’s genitals, such as licking, sucking or kissing.

What are the risks from oral sex?

Most sexually transmitted infections can be passed on through unprotected oral sex.

Some, like gonorrhoea, genital herpes, genital warts, chlamydia and syphilis are easily caught through unprotected oral sex with a man or a woman. Though the risk is lower, HIV can also be passed on from a man during oral sex if his semen enters the bloodstream. This can happen if there are small cuts or sores in the mouth of the person giving him oral sex.

A woman’s vaginal fluid can also contain the HIV virus and can pass into the bloodstream through cuts in the mouth.

Find out more about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How can I reduce the risks from oral sex?

The risks from oral sex can be reduced if you:
  • Always use a fresh condom or dental dam
  • Change the dental dam or condom if in use for a long time
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to prevent bleeding gums and sores (but don’t clean your teeth immediately before as this can cause bleeding)
  • Refrain from oral sex if there are any signs of infection, or refrain from oral sex if the person giving it has any cuts or sores in their mouth