What is oral sex?

Oral sex is when you stimulate your partner’s genitals with your mouth, lips or tongue. This could involve sucking or licking their penis (also called fellatio), vagina, vulva or clitoris (cunnilingus), or anus (anilingus).

Is it common to have oral sex?

Many people have oral sex before or instead of sexual intercourse.

If you’re going to have oral sex with your partner, try different techniques until you find out what you both enjoy. Read more tips on how to have a healthy sex life.

Is oral sex safe?

There’s no risk of getting pregnant through oral sex. However, you can catch or pass on some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by having oral sex. STIs that can be passed on through oral sex include:

The risk is generally higher if you give rather than receive oral sex. This is because you’re more likely to be exposed to genital fluids.

The risk is also higher if you have cuts, sores or ulcers in your mouth. Avoid brushing your teeth or using dental floss shortly before giving oral sex as this could cause your gums to bleed. If you want to freshen your mouth first, you could try mouthwash or mints.

If you think you may have an STI, see your GP or go to your nearest sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.

Can you catch HIV from oral sex?

It’s possible to get HIV through oral sex, although you’re less likely to get HIV in this way than from unprotected vaginal and anal sex. It's a-low risk activity but the risks may be higher if your partner ejaculates in your mouth, particularly if you have any cuts.

How can I make oral sex safer?

For oral sex on a man, use a condom to reduce your risk of getting an STI. If you don’t like the taste of regular condoms, try a flavoured one.

For oral sex on a woman, or when performing anilingus, use a dam. This is a small, thin square of latex or plastic that acts as a barrier between the vagina or anus and the mouth, preventing the spread of STIs. Dams are available at some sexual health clinics, online, or pharmacies may order them for you.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information: 

 

Enjoying sex safely: condom negotiation

In the heat of the moment, how do you persuade your partner that safer sex can still be fun?

Media last reviewed: 07/01/2013

Next review due: 07/01/2015

Page last reviewed: 04/11/2014

Next review due: 03/11/2016