Five STDs that Are Easily Transmitted During Oral Sex

You probably think you’re pretty well-educated about sexual health. You know you need to protect your wellbeing against STDs by using a condom during sex, but what about the risks of oral sex? Let’s take a look at which STDs threaten your wellness during oral sex, and what you can do to prevent this.


1. Herpes: According to sexual health and wellness writer Amanda King, herpes ‘is the most commonly transmitted STD through oral sex. There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection: HSV 1, which causes sores around the mouth, and HSV 2 which is responsible for genital sores. It is possible for a person with HSV 1 to transmit the virus and cause genital sores on the receiving partner. It is also possible, although rare, for HSV 2 to be transmitted from genital to mouth contact, causing mouth sores. It is possible to transmit and catch herpes even during times when there are no symptoms. Certain medications, such as Zovirax, and the use of condoms or dental dams can help to lessen the chance of transmission, but won’t eliminate it entirely.


2. HPV (human papillomavirus): ‘Also referred to as genital warts, HPV can also be transmitted via oral sex,’ says Davies. ‘In fact, HPV acquired through oral sex is believed to be a main cause of throat cancer. Condoms and dental dams are effective in reducing the transmission rate of HPV through oral sex, but they do not prevent it, entirely, since, like with herpes, the disease is spread through skin to skin contact, rather than through bodily fluids. HPV presents as small, hard, generally painless white bumps on the genitalia and is a major cause of cancer in women.’


3. Gonorrhoea: Davies notes, ‘Sometimes called “The Clap,” gonorrhoea is very easily transmitted through oral sex, most often causing throat infections, which are difficult to treat, but usually resolve in a matter of three to four months. It is less likely to be transmitted from a female to a partner, since the site of infection is at the cervix, which doesn’t come into play during cunnilingus. Oral gonorrhoea can produce a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, red spots and white/yellow discharge. Oral gonorrhoea can also be transmitted to another person through oral sex, manifesting as an infection of the genitals. Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics, but in recent years, antibiotic resistant strains of the disease have been emerging, making it difficult to treat. Left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and epididymitis in men, which can both lead to infertility.’


4. Chlamydia: Davies comments that chlamydia ‘is transmitted similarly to gonorrhoea, being more common during fellatio, and with low female to partner transmission rates. The symptoms of a chlamydia throat infection are similar to a sore throat because of a cold. Dry, scratchy throat and painful swallowing are common. The symptoms of a genital infection are burning during urination, pain during sex (for women), testicular pain, rectal pain and discharge, discharge from the penis or vagina. Like gonorrhoea, it is treated with antibiotics.’


5. Syphilis: This STD ‘extremely transmittable via oral sex,’ warns Davies. ‘It is only contagious during symptomatic phases, however, in some phases of the disease, the painless sores are easy to overlook. The symptoms include sores, skin rash and lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fever, swollen lymph nodes, hair loss, headaches, weight loss and exhaustion. Left untreated, syphilis can damage internal organs, including the brain. Late stage syphilis causes blindness, paralysis, trouble coordinating muscle movements and even death.  It is also treated with antibiotics.’

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