QJSex: Going down safely

Oral sex isn’t necessarily safe sex.

This may come as a shock for you if you were taught sex-ed with a pregnancy-prevention focus, or have just always considered oral pleasure to be both sexy and safe. If pregnancy is your primary concern, then yes, oral sex is a safe option for experiencing pleasure. However, several STIs can be quite easily transmitted through cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the female genitals), fellatio (oral stimulation of the male genitals), and analingus (oral stimulation of the anus).

Any STIs that can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact are a big worry. A few in particular are worrisome because they are harder to test for and typically not included in STI screenings. Even if you and your partner (s) have been tested, you may still be at risk of:

• The herpes simplex virus which can present itself as genital or oral herpes (cold sores).

• The human papilloma virus which has several strains, but often present itself as warts on various parts of the body.

Many other bacterial STIs can be transmitted through bodily fluids.

• Gonorrhea and chlamydia can manifest in the throat, presenting as any other sort of throat infection and can be passed to the person receiving oral sex.

• In rarer cases, it’s possible for STIs such as hepatitis, HIV and syphilis to enter one’s blood stream through cuts or sores in the mouth or on the genitals.

Don’t think that this means you have to give up on going down — just protect yourself why while you’re getting off or getting someone off.

Now, you might be thinking, “A condom for a blowjob? A dental dam for going down? That’s a serious mood killer.” But it doesn’t have to be. Caring for your partner and wanting to keep them safe can be just as sexy as wanting to pleasure them, and there are plenty of ways that you can make the act itself sexy.

Try rolling a condom down their penis with your mouth, attaching a dental dam to a garder belt to go “hands-free”, or using the opportunity to experiment and learn different ways to stimulate them through that barrier.The barrier can make sensations different for both parties, but you may find that the material stimulates some areas more than a tongue or lips alone can!

A few tips for using a condom or dental dam for safer oral sex:

• Watch out for teeth! Be aware of your sharper canines grazing the barrier, or try covering your teeth with your lips

• Avoid using spermicidal condoms. The spermicidal agent (nonoxyl-9) not only has an unpleasant taste, but can cause numbness in the lips and tongue. For the same reasons, avoid desensitizing condoms. If you don’t like the taste of latex, try using flavoured lubricant or buying flavoured condoms (dental dams are typically sold flavoured).

• Avoid using oily food products and massage oils when performing safer oral sex, as anything oil-based can degrade latex.

• If you don’t have a dental dam or require a latex-free dental dam, you can make one out of a condom or a glove!

Regular STI testing and honest communication with your partner(s) is an important part of safer sex, no matter the act. If you are risk-aware, STI-free, and you are honest with and trusting of your partner, then you may very well consider oral sex to be safer sex. If you or your partner have an STI or if the status is unknown, don’t be afraid to ask them to use a condom or a dental dam for oral sex.

This blog is being run in conjunction with the Sexual Health Resource Centre, located in the JDUC, room 223. Follow them on Twitter @shrckingston.

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