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How to practise safe oral sex

Oral sex can be enjoyable, but it's important to make sure you're having safe oral sex

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Oral sex, sometimes known as just "oral", can be a really enjoyable experience. Oral sex involves stimulating your partner's genitals with your mouth, lips or tongue. Sometimes this is referred to as "going down" on someone.

It's important for everyone to practise safe oral sex to avoid the risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

What is oral sex?

Oral sex involves using your mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate another person's genitals or anus.

This could be:

  • Using your mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate the clitoris, sometimes known as a lick out.
  • Using your mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate a penis, sometimes known as a blow job.
  • Using your mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate the anus, sometimes known as rimming or a rim job.

Oral sex can be very intimate, and no one should pressure you into having oral sex if you're not ready. It's okay to say no to anything you're not comfortable with. If you would like to try oral sex but your partner isn't ready, give them some time. Find out about sexual consent here, and be patient, respectful, and understanding. 

Communicate with your partner to find out how they feel about oral sex. Oral sex can be pleasurable for both partners, so find out what they like and don't like, and make sure they're comfortable.

Practising safe oral sex

There are a few things to keep in mind when having oral sex.

  • It is possible to get a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) from oral sex, including herpes, genital warts, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, HIV, syphillis and trichomoniasis. There are forms of protection you can use to reduce this risk.
  • If you have a cut in your mouth, bleeding gums, lip sores or broken skin it is possible for infection to enter your body during oral sex. Avoid oral until things have cleared up.
  • For an enjoyable experience, it’s important that your genitals are clean before having oral sex.
  • It is not possible to get pregnant from oral sex. 

Protection for safe oral sex

  • There are two main forms of protection for oral sex, dental dams and condoms.
  • Dental dams can be used for oral sex performed on a vagina or anus. A dental dam is a rectangular piece of thin latex that you hold over the area you want to stimulate, acting as a barrier between your mouth and you partner's genitals or anus. 
  • A condom can be used for oral sex performed on a penis. You can also use a condom if you don't have a dental dam, by cutting it up and holding the latex over the area.
  • You can buy flavoured dental dams and condoms to give you a more enjoyable experience.

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published February 11th, 2013
Last updated April 6th, 2018
Tags oral sex sexual health safer sex oral
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