Many of us aren’t sure about the risks involved in oral sex. On this page we try and explain some of the risks involved and the STI’s that you can catch through sucking.
HIV and Oral Sex
The bottom line is:
• Sucking is not totally safe from HIV infection.
• The latest evidence suggests that there is a small risk, because there are a number of cases each year where infection could only have occurred through oral sex.
• Compared to sucking, unprotected penetrative sex with men or women is definitely still the most risky kind of sex.
Can HIV enter my blood through the mouth or throat?
The linings of the mouth and throat are very thick, and they don’t absorb much, even if they’re damaged. They also contain few cells that are vulnerable to HIV infection. Fluids stay in contact with these linings for a very short time because you swallow frequently. This suggests it’s unlikely that infected blood or cum could be absorbed through the mouth or throat. However there may be an increased risk if your gums are damaged, if you have cuts or sores in your mouth, or if you’ve got an inflamed throat caused by a cold, flu, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like gonorrhoea.
So should I let someone cum in my mouth?
The decision is yours! The risk of HIV infection can be reduced if you avoid getting cum in your mouth.
HIV is found in cum and pre cum, and the risk of HIV infection through sucking may be significantly increased when the amount of HIV in the cum of a man who is HIV positive is especially high. It’s thought this happens at two particular times:
• During the period just after he’s become infected with HIV.
• If he starts to develop HIV related illnesses (which could be years later)
Most people who’ve just been infected probably aren’t aware of the fact, so they won’t realise there may be risk of passing on HIV through their cum.
If he does cum in my mouth, should I swallow?
Swallowing cum takes it away from any damaged tissue in the mouth and acids in the stomach probably kill HIV. However, if you do swallow cum it will also make contact with any inflamed tissue in your throat. If you decide to spit, the cum is in contact with gums and ulcers longer. There is no evidence to suggest either way is safest. The best way of reducing the risk of infection is by avoiding getting cum in your mouth.
Does saliva kill HIV?
Not exactly, but evidence suggests it contains an enzyme which makes it harder for HIV to infect vulnerable white blood cells. Saliva itself can’t pass on HIV.
Can pre-cum pass on HIV?
Pre-cum (the clear, slippery liquid which appears before ejaculation) can certainly contain HIV, though some experts think it doesn’t contain enough HIV to be infectious (and some men don’t produce very much of it). This suggests that, although pre-cum might pass on HIV, it is particularly unlikely.
Can I get HIV from being sucked?
This is highly unlikely.
What about the risk of other STI’s?
Other STI’s though generally less serious than HIV are often more easily picked up through sucking. They include Gonorrhoea, NSU (Non-Specific Urethritis), Chlamydia, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Herpes. Condoms when used correctly are the only way to protect yourself from these STI’s. See the STI’s page for more information on these and other infections.
If you think you may have picked up an infection, or just want a routine check up, visit your local sexual health service for a free & confidential examination, see the Sexual Health Service page for more information.
Making sucking safer
Only you can choose how safe you want to be, and only you can decide what precautions you’re willing to take.
Here are some suggestions:
• You may decide that the risks of oral sex are low enough for you to continue your regular behaviour.
• You may prefer not to have oral sex because you do not wish to take even a low risk of HIV transmission.
• Stop sucking him before he cums. Some men will tell you when they’re about to cum, others will groan louder, others will take their dick out of your mouth anyway. Some will shoot their load without warning, so be careful!
• Don’t suck if you’ve got cuts, sores, or inflammation in your mouth or throat. It’s also best not to suck if you’ve just brushed your teeth (because your gums might be bleeding). Current evidence suggests it’s best to wait 1 hour after brushing your teeth.
• Lick the shaft of his penis or suck his balls instead of putting the end of his penis in your mouth (especially if you’re worried about pre-cum).
• You may decide to reduce the number of partners whom you have oral sex with.
• You may decide only to have insertive oral sex (being sucked), as this is safer than receptive oral sex (sucking).
• Take regular sexual health screening. This will show if you have any STI’s which may increase the risk of you transmitting HIV to a negative partner, and reduce the risk of you contracting HIV if you are HIV negative.
• You can cover the dick, which is being sucked with a flavoured condom. Using a condom for sucking is the best way to minimise any risk (unless you choose not to suck at all). Women can also carefully split a condom or use a dental dam to cover the vagina. Split condoms or dams can also be used when rimming (anal stimulation using the tongue).