[Art Cred: ArDem "Candy Lips"]
As a sex educator and academic researcher, I am constantly reading articles regarding sexual attitudes and behavior. Today I read an article that I am happy was written. It made me think – and made me decide to write this post (while I’m on vacation, therefore it must be a good article).
The title of the article is “Oral Versus Vaginal Sex Among Adolescents: Perceptions, Attitudes, and Behavior” and the authors are Bonnie Halpern-Felsher; Jodi Cornell; Rhonda Kropp; and Jeanne Tschann, and was published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005.
The jist of the article explained that teenagers (9th graders specifically) are:
A – more likely to have had oral sex than vaginal sex.
B – more likely to intend to have oral sex than vaginal sex.
C – more likely to perceive oral sex as less risky than vaginal sex.
Oral sex is great and common. Teenagers and adults of all ages/genders/races/sexual orientations/etc. have oral sex.
And while it is not vaginal sex or anal sex – oral sex is sex and includes vaginas, penises and anuses.
I am not here to argue whether or not people who engage in oral sex are still virgins (that’s a conversation for another time) -
What I want to accomplish with this post is to mention that like all sex – vaginal/anal/oral/etc. – there are pleasures and risks, and while oral sex is associated with less “risks” than vaginal and anal sex, it is important to be aware of what those risks are and how we can protect ourselves.
Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and herpes, can be transmitted via oral sex – for males and females.
Sexually transmitted infections don’t always come with symptoms, so it is important to be screened at a clinic for STIs if you are sexually active (including only being orally sexually active).
Sexually transmitted infections are not the end of the world, but it is best to get screened/diagnosed/treated sooner rather than later to avoid complications and to be aware of your STI status and avoid transmission to/from your partners.
Here are a couple protective tips for oral sex:
1 – Talk to your partner.
**This is by far the most important protective tip. Communicate with your sex partners [before engaging in sex]. Believe me, it CAN be a sexy conversation – because what is sexier than a person who is respectful of your body? A few good questions are:
a) “When was the last time you were tested? And did you have your mouth tested?”
**Someone can have chlamydia in their mouth, and gonorrhea in their semen/vaginal secretions, but if they only have their genitals tested, then the oral chlamydia will go undetected and untreated because the antibiotics that treat gonorrhea do not treat chlamydia.
For more info – check out: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm
b) “Do you get cold sores or know if you have the herpes virus?”
**Someone who has herpes simplex 1 or/and herpes simplex 2 can transmit the virus through oral sex. If someone has genital herpes – the person performing oral sex can contract it orally. If someone has oral herpes – the person receiving oral sex can contract it genitally. Same type of thing with kissing – the virus is contagious.
For more info – check out: http://www.cdc.gov/STd/herpes/STDFact-Herpes.htm
c) “Am I the only person that you are engaging in sexual behavior with?” <– I said that out loud and realized I would never say those exact words… so put your own spin on it. “Are we going to be sexually exclusive?” – “Are you having sex (vaginal/anal/oral) with anyone else?” – “How would you feel if I was having sex with other people?”
**Don’t assume that everyone practices monogamy. You get to set up your own rules with your sexual partners. You can’t really get mad at someone for doing something (or not doing something) that you didn’t discuss. Best to set up the relationship rules before becoming sexually involved so everyone is on the same page.
d) “What are you comfortable with?”
**Talk about what you’re into before, during, and after sex. And just because someone is into something one day, doesn’t mean they are into it every day. And someone may want to try something that they previously didn’t want. Always keep conversation and consent going.
2. Get tested.
**For the reasons listed above. Get tested. It’s affordable and quick and easy. Make a date out of it. Go pee in cups and then go get ice cream. Cute.
3 – Use protection.
**You can use dental dams and condoms during oral sex for protection from many STIs.
Dental dams are thin latex sheets that serve as a barrier between someone’s mouth and another person’s vulva or anus and can help reduce the risk of STI transmission.
For more info – check out: http://www.pamf.org/teen/sex/std/oral/dentaldam.html
Condoms can be used during oral sex to reduce the risk of STI transmission, but remember that condoms can only reduce the risk of what they cover. There are STIs that are contracted skin to skin (thus, why it is important to talk to your partner about their STI status).
For more info – check out: http://youtu.be/Y_zKhFXGuFo
Feel free to message me if you have questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
K . x