1. Oral sex isn't automatically safe sex
Just because there's no penetration involved doesn’t mean that oral sex is automatically a safe sex option. In fact, there are several risks you need to be aware of when it comes to oral acts. It’s still very possible for you to get an STD on your mouth or genitals from giving or receiving oral sex with a partner of any gender.
Can you get herpes from oral? Yep. Can you get syphilis from oral? Also yes. Can you get gonorrhea, HPV and viral hepatitis from oral? Yes, yes and yes. Can you even get chlamydia from oral sex? It's less likely, but still possible.
If you want to engage in any kind of oral sex, make sure you use either a condom or dental dam (for someone with a vagina).
2. What does semen taste like? Well, it has something to do with diet
If your partner has a penis and eats a lot of steak, this will change the taste of their semen (aka cum). If you’re going to swallow it - and that’s totally up to you and not a requirement at all - know that your partner's diet can change what you end up tasting. If they eat a lot of fruit it can taste a little sweeter, and if they're big on dairy and meat then it’ll have the opposite effect - expect a less palatable taste.
3. Oral sex can give you cancer
Before you start to freak out and vow never to try oral sex ever, the act itself will not give you cancer. However, the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted through oral sex which can potentially cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. This is known as oropharyngeal cancer.
While there are now vaccines available designed to prevent HPV from causing cervical cancer, it has not been confirmed if this same vaccine will prevent oropharyngeal cancers. So what's the best way to prevent this risk? Practise safe sex by using a condom or dental dam every time you give or receive oral sex.
4. Condoms v dental dams: What's the difference?
Different bodies have different parts, and the tools you should use to practice safe sex are also different depending on your and your partner's genitals. When performing oral sex on a penis, you'll want to use a condom to keep you and your partner safe from STDs.
If someone is going down on a vagina, a dental dam is the best form of protection. It's a thin, flexible piece of latex that you hold over the vagina, and it protects you both in the same was as a condom would on a penis. If you can't find a dental dam, you can also carefully cut a line from the base to the tip of a condom, then flatten it out into a single sheet to use like a dental dam.
5. It’s a (bacteria) jungle down there
Pubic hair and sweaty genitals (everyone can get a bit clammy down there) are a breeding ground for bacteria. However, if you and your partner shower regularly and you use a condom or dental dam, then you’re taking the right hygiene precautions.
While we're on the topic, your mouth is also filled with bacteria - about 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria live on each tooth even if you do practise good oral health. So make sure you're both regularly brushing to keep everything as hygienic as it can be.
6. Oral sex isn't ever a requirement
You never, ever have to do anything sexual if you don't want to. That includes oral sex. Some people view oral sex as a "stepping stone" to more sexual acts, or as foreplay before penetrative sex, but that doesn't mean you have to do it if you're not into it.
Remember that sex is always a two-way street, and you and your partner should be on the same page before any and every sexual act together. That means no one should ever pressure you to engage in oral sex if you don't want to, and you should never pressure anyone either - no matter if they're your boyfriend, girlfriend, or anything else.
If you ever need help or support when it comes to sex and relationships, head to ReachOut.com.
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