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:
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:
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:
Are There Any Symptoms?
Many women with BV don’t even show symptoms. Others show symptoms such as:
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:
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.