What Disease Can You Get From Oral Sex?

Oral sex can be a pleasurable experience, but it also carries the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s important to practice safe oral sex by using barrier methods like dental dams and condoms, and to have open communication with your partner about their STI status and symptoms.

Sexually transmitted diseases that can be spread through oral sex include chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The symptoms of these infections can vary depending on the infection.

Chlamydia

The Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s one of the most common STIs and it can be spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If the bacteria enter the uterus, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Women can also get a chlamydia infection in their throat or mouth and not know it because it often causes no symptoms.

Oral sex is a common way to spread chlamydia and other STDs, especially among people who don’t use barrier methods like condoms or dental dams. It’s also more likely to happen in communities with higher rates of STI transmission and poor access to sex education and STI prevention resources.

The CDC recommends that all sexually active people, especially those who engage in oral or anal sex, get tested for STIs regularly. It’s especially important for those who have new partners or haven’t been tested in a while. Testing is simple and painless, and most STIs can be treated with antibiotics. Infections caused by chlamydia, herpes, and genital warts are especially serious and can result in permanent damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s so important to use protection and take advantage of STI prevention tools, like sex education, sex training, and barrier methods, including condoms and dental dams. A short course of antibiotics can treat most STIs, including chlamydia and herpes, but they must be taken correctly to work.

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Herpes

It is possible to get the herpes simplex virus (HSV) through oral sex, but it is usually not a common occurrence. Herpes is a viral infection that causes small sores or blisters in or around the mouth area. These are called herpes labialis and they can be painful and oozing. People who have herpes can also have repeated outbreaks over time (‘recurrences’). Medicines can decrease how long and severe these sores are, but they cannot cure them.

Oral herpes is caused by HSV-1, while genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. HSV-1 can be transferred from the mouth to the genitals through kissing or sharing of drinks and utensils. HSV-2 can be transferred from the genitals to the mouth through sexual activity.

Sometimes the herpes viruses can be spread even when there are no visible sores or blisters. This is called asymptomatic herpes and can happen to both men and women. It can also be passed to newborn babies during childbirth.

Both herpes infections are very common, and most people have one or the other by age 20. Once a person gets herpes it stays in the body for life. It does not go away, but it goes to sleep and is dormant in nerve tissue near the mouth or genitals. The virus can be woken up by the use of certain medications or by stress, and this may cause an outbreak.

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Human Papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America, and it can be passed from person to person through oral sex. Almost all sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives. The infection itself is typically symptom-free, and most people clear the virus on their own within two years. However, there are a number of types of HPV that can lead to cancer, including throat and mouth cancers. Two of the most dangerous strains are HPV-16 and HPV-18, which can cause oropharyngeal cancer.

Scientists have known for decades that HPV is linked to cervical cancer, but they recently discovered that some strains of the virus can also cause cancers of the head and neck, especially in young women. Oral HPV is typically caused by intimate skin-to-skin contact or by mouth-to-genital sex, but it can be spread through unprotected oral and penetrative sex as well as through sharing sex toys.

There are about 200 different HPV strains, and about 40 of them can infect the genital area or the oral mucus membranes. Almost all HPV infections are caused by low-risk strains, which usually result in warts that clear up on their own within a year or two. But some high-risk strains can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus, vulva and penis. There are vaccines that can protect against infections by high-risk HPV types.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis, or trich, is an infection caused by a tiny one-celled parasite called trichomonas. It can be spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex. The infection is very common and affects men and women of all ages, but older and African American women are more likely to get it than white or Hispanic women. Trich usually doesn’t cause any symptoms, but it increases your risk of getting or spreading HIV and can lead to serious problems if not treated.

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Trich is most often spread by unprotected vaginal sex or touching your own or someone else’s genitals, especially the opening of the uterus (cervix) or the inside of the penis (urethra). It can also be spread by insertion of fingers into the vagina and sharing sex toys, but only in very few cases.

People who have trich usually get antibiotic medicine (metronidazole or tinidazole) by mouth. The antibiotics help treat the infection and should be taken with food to reduce side effects like nausea. You and your sexual partners should not have sex until both of you finish taking the medicine and the symptoms go away, which usually takes about a week. You can get trich again, even after you’ve had treatment for it, so it’s important that you and your sexual partners get tested regularly and use a condom when having sex and share sex toys properly.

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