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Is oral sex risky?

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Updated June 19, 2006

Question: Is oral sex risky?
I’ve never used protection for oral sex, but I’m newly single and worried about disease in a big way. I’ve heard about dental dams, but can’t imagine anyone actually uses them. What are the real risks?
Answer:

The problem with that idea of “real risks” is that it sounds like there’s a final answer out there, which there isn’t. What your risks are depend on so many factors, not least of which is do either you or your partner currently have an STD (which is information you may not have before having sex).

Some people say that if you’re having casual sex you should act as if everyone you’re sleeping with has an STD. This isn’t meant to be scary, or to suggest that you should necessarily avoid having casual sex, instead the idea is that if you treat everyone as if they have an STD you won’t have to constantly worry if they do or they don’t and change your behavior from one situation to the next. This also seems like a good time to remind you that there is basically no kind of hot, raunchy, wild sex that you can’t make safer by using condoms or other barriers.

It’s hard for researchers to determine how risky oral sex is, since most people who engage in oral sex also engage in other sexual behaviors, making it impossible to know the way that an STD was transmitted.

That said, there are a variety of STDs that can be transmitted during oral sex (including herpes and HPV) and it’s probably worth learning more about the STD risks of oral sex so you can decide what level of protection you’re going to use. assessing your risk and then making informed choices about the risks you are willing to take.

Read more – Is oral sex safe sex?

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