Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), contrary to popular opinion, aren’t only contracted through anal or vaginal sex. One can easily contract or pass on an STD via genital skin-to-skin contact. Common infections such as genital herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HPV can also be transmitted with oral sex. That means before you open your mouth to pleasure your partner with the lips or tongue, it is vital to understand the risk such sexual activities can pose. That said, let’s explore the scope of oral sex, the risk of STDs, and the need to get regular testing. Oral sex involves using mouth, lips, and tongue by one partner to stimulate the vagina, penis, or anus of another sex partner. Oral sex is increasingly becoming popular, but many overlook its potential to transmit infections. Based on scientific research, the best chance you have to reduce the transmission of STDs is to use condoms as a barrier during sexual encounters. Others prefer using a dental dam to reduce the risk of getting or passing an STD. The only proven disease with a low transmission risk via oral sex is HIV. But with oral sex, a choice for many, here are things to know before opening your mouth. Oral Sex: Risk Factors Oral sex is a common sexual activity among adults, with data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggesting that over 85% of US adults (aged between 18 to 44) have engaged in it at some point in their lives. Furthermore, a separate survey found that over 40% of teens have engaged in oral sex. Based on this data, it is safe to suggest that this activity is quite prevalent and cuts across all age groups. However, many STDs can be transmitted via oral sex, with exposure to an infected partner a risk factor that can have you contract an infection around the genitals, rectum, throat, or mouth. According to the CDC, the risk of contracting or spreading an STD via oral sex depends on: The number of oral sex acts conducted on your partner.The specific sex acts done.The type of STD. Overall, one can contract an STD in the throat or mouth by pleasuring a partner with oral sex who has an infection in the genitals. Also, one with a mouth or throat infection can pass an infection to another partner while stimulating the penis, vagina, or anus orally. Infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, intestinal parasites, and hepatitis A can be transmitted through oral sex, regardless of whether the infected partner is showing symptoms or not. Therefore, be careful when you decide to pleasure your partner using your mouth, lips, or tongue. Other risk factors are compiled as follows: Pleasuring a partner with an infected penis can pass an infection to the throat, such as chlamydia. The same applies to an infected vagina.Oral sex to a partner with a rectal infection can result in chlamydia in the throat. And the reverse is true.Penis oral sex from a partner with a throat infection can cause chlamydia of the penis. Other factors that maximize STD via oral sex include: Exposure to the pre-cum of an infected partner.Genitals or mouth sores.Poor oral health, such as bleeding gums, gum disease, tooth decay, or oral cancer. STD Prevention During Oral Sex The most common barrier methods adults use include condoms and dental dams. However, there are several measures you can take to reduce the risk of getting or giving an STD if you are sexually active. Anal or vaginal oral sex – You can use a dental dam or rip open a condom into a square shape and place it between your mouth and your partner’s vagina.Oral sex on the penis – Use condoms. STD Prevalence: The Statistics Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a bacterial infectio affecting the rectum, urinary tract, and throat. According to the CDC, about 1.15 million new cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed, with over 50% of that number being folks aged 15 to 25. The main risk factors include vaginal and anal sex, but the CDC mentions oral sex too because the infection can affect the throat, with symptoms more likely to show in a week, mostly in the form of a sore throat. Experts suggest getting tested at least twice per year, whether or not you are actively having sex with an infected partner or not. Treatment is mostly done through the prescription of antibiotics. Chlamydia Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that the CDC classifies as the most common STI in the US. And while its risk factors are mostly vaginal or anal sex, this infection can be transmitted via oral sex. Chlamydia affects the urinary tract, rectum, genitals, and throat. And like gonorrhea, its treatment is done through the administration of appropriate antibiotics. Syphilis Syphilis is a bacterial infection that develops in stages, which usually span for years. And unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, it is less common, with the CDC reporting 115,000 new cases per year. This infection affects the genitals, anus, rectum, lips, or mouth. And if left untreated, it can affect the cardiovascular system, nerves, brain, liver and even be passed to newborns at birth. Regarding treatment, right antibiotic administration will do the trick. HIV According to CDC estimates, over 1.2 million folks live with HIV/AIDS in the United States. HIV is a viral infection whose risk factors include vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner. And while everything considered the infection is spread via oral sex, the CDC says the chances of acquiring or passing HIV via oral sex are significantly low. The infection has no cure, but people living with this condition can take antiviral medications and live longer. The Bottom Line Many STDs are transmitted via vaginal or anal sex, which is the main risk factor. But others such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis can pass through oral sex with your mouth, lips, and tongue. Generally, these STDs affect the genitals, rectum, mouth, and throat. That’s why you must be careful next time you want to pleasure your partner with your mouth. Using a dental dam or condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD. Regular testing, at least twice per year, is recommended.