Oral sex may be your favorite sex position but are you and your partner aware of the risks associated with it?

Sure, it feels great but having oral sex can put you at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes and syphilis. It can also put you at risk of getting a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.

Here we will talk about the likelihood of getting an infection from oral sex, what you need to know about bacterial vaginosis, and what you can do to prevent it (and other infections).

What is oral sex?

Before we look at these infections, we must first clarify what oral sex entails.

Oral sex goes by many names such as “head”, “top”, “going down”, “rimming”, and so on. Medically, oral sex performed on a woman is called cunnilingus (when it is performed on a man it is fellatio). If It involves any anal play, it is called anilingus.

In short, oral sex is where your partner uses his/her mouth, tongue or lips to stimulate your lady parts and/or your anus. This act can be a part of foreplay to really get you in the mood, or it can bring you all the way to climax. Either way, it is an amazing experience if he/she knows what he/she is doing.


Oral sex has many benefits. For one, it can give you an enhanced sexual experience, and give you a good night’s sleep. Great oral sex can also help to relieve stress and will bring you closer to your partner.

For a long time, oral sex has been considered “safe sex” because there is no risk of pregnancy and it is less likely that you will contract an STI. But studies have proven that this is not so.

Some risks associated with oral sex include:

Getting chlamydia of the throat, genitals, rectum and urinary tract
Getting gonorrhea of the throat, genitals, rectum and urinary tract
Getting syphilis of the lips, mouth, throat, genitals, anus, and rectum
Getting herpes of the lips, mouth, throat, genital area, anus, rectum and buttocks
Getting HPV (human papillomavirus) of the mouth, throat, genital area, cervix, anus, rectum
HIV (while the risk is very low, there have been a few reported cases)

You are at a higher risk of getting an STI if you and your partner have open cuts, sores or ulcers.

To reduce your chances of getting an STI from oral sex, the CDC recommends that:

You use a dental dam
You can cut a condom into a square to act as a barrier between the mouth and the vagina
You should ask new partners to get tested for STIs before letting him/her perform oral sex on you
Avoid oral sex altogether

Aside from contracting an STI, you are also at risk of getting infections such as Shigella gastroenteritis which is caused by oro-anal sex. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever.

Unprotected oral sex can also lead to vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections when proper dental hygiene is not practiced by your partner. It can also occur when sex toys and food is used during the act.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis, or BV, is a vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina.

There are various types of bacteria already present in the bacteria, but good bacteria such as lactobacillus help to keep the pH of the vagina slightly acidic and balanced. This way, bad bacteria already present in the vagina are kept in check, and other bacteria introduced to the vagina cannot flourish. Whenever the bad bacteria manages to surpass the good bacteria, bacterial vaginosis will occur.

How do you Get It?

Bacterial vaginosis affects women primarily in their reproductive years, between the ages of 15-44 years. This infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection because women who have never had oral, anal or vaginal sex can still get BV.

The most common causes of BV include:

Sex- While it isn’t a sexually transmitted infection, BV can be caused by having sex with multiple partners, or even one new partner. This is especially true if your partner is a woman and sex toys are shared. Not using protection with your current partner can also lead to infection even if he/she is faithful as natural genital chemistry changes can cause bacteria to grow
Masturbation- Not washing your sex toys before using them can lead to BV. This practice can introduce bacteria into the vagina.
Douching- What many women fail to understand is that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Meaning, there is no need for you to put anything inside it to get it clean or make it smell good. Douching, especially with harsh soaps loaded with fragrances and other chemicals can not only kill the good bacteria, but it can also change the pH of the vagina and make it more susceptible to getting an infection
Pregnancy- With pregnancy, your body will go through a number of changes which includes hormonal changes. This can alter the pH of your vagina, making you more likely to get an infection.
Birth control- Whether you are on the pill, the shot, or have an Intrauterine device (IUD), these all have an impact on the hormones in your body. This can, in turn, change the natural vaginal environment, making it less acidic and more prone to the risk of infection.
Genetics- Some women are naturally unable to produce ample amounts of lactobacilli bacteria. They are at higher risk of getting BV.
Smoking – Studies have shown that women who smoke are at a higher risk of getting BV. This is because there seems to be a direct link between smoking and low lactobacillus production in women.

Are There Any Symptoms?

Many women with BV don’t even show symptoms. Others show symptoms such as:

A strong, fishy odor especially after sex
Discomfort during sex
Bleeding after sex and between periods
Thin, grey or green discharge
Burning sensation when urinating
Pain, itching, and burning in and around the vagina

How Oral Sex Increases the Chances of BV

We already said that receiving oral sex can increase your chances of getting BV but we didn’t say how exactly this happens.

One way you can get BV during oral sex is by using food in the bedroom. Sure, you want to spice things up a bit, or should we say sweeten, but getting the whipped cream and chocolate syrup inside of the vagina can actually upset the vagina’s very delicate ecosystem and lead to various kinds of infections, including Bacterial Vaginosis.

Another way you can get BV from oral sex is from the gram-positive and gram-negative organisms present in the mouth. The microorganisms naturally present in the mouth seemingly put you at greater risk of getting BV. In a study conducted on women who received cunnilingus in the past four weeks leading up to the study and women who had not engaged in oral sex, it was discovered that women who had received oral sex are more likely to have BV.


Sometimes, Bacterial Vaginosis goes away on its own as the vagina is capable of healing on its own. If you are pregnant, you are at risk of having a stillbirth or premature birth. BV can also put you at a higher risk of getting other STIs.

Bacterial Vaginosis can be treated with pills, gels, and creams that are inserted into the vagina. To determine if you have BV and not anything else, you will have to visit your doctor who will perform tests and prescribe the right course of antibiotics to get your BV cleared up.


Having BV can be pretty uncomfortable. Here’s how you can avoid getting BV from oral sex:

Using protection- While it may seem a bit weird to cut open a condom and lay it over your vagina, this can reduce your chances of getting BV and STIs that can be transferred by the mouth.
Cleaning sex toys- If your partner likes to use sex toys while he/she is performing oral sex on you, make sure they’re clean since they can transfer bacteria.
Stop douching and using scented soaps- There is no vagina on this planet that smells or tastes like flowers or fruit, so there is no reason for you to try to make it taste or smell like that. These practices throw off your natural pH and put you at greater risk of getting BV so just stop okay? Warm water and neutral pH soaps are enough to keep the vulva and the entire vaginal region clean.

Bottom Line

While there is a connection between a woman’s sexual activities and her chances of getting BV, we aren’t going to tell you to stop because women who have never had any type of sex still end up with it.

The best thing you can do is use protection when possible, vet your partners and keep yourself clean.

Lastly oral sex done the right way is unlikely to give you BV.

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