Thank you for your question.
Oral sex can indeed lead to transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, or STI (sexually transmitted infections). Here are some examples of STIs: Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhoea, HIV/AIDS, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), Syphilis. If you want more information about these you can visit www.ask.com. This website offers links to other online sites offering a description of these illnesses as well as the typical symptoms you get when infected. You can also visit Health Canada’s website at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dc-ma/sti-its/index_e.html.
Saliva as such is quite clean and is part of our body’s natural defenses, but small cuts, inflammatory lesions, sores and ulcers that someone may have in or around their mouth or in their genital areas does increase the risk of getting a STI. Also, if a person has had a STI or is not aware of having one, it could be transmitted to you during a sexual act like oral sex. Many of these infections have a latent period. This means that even if you are infected, you could be free of symptoms for a long time. This is why it is important to get tested regularly, especially if you have had recent contact with someone who is potentially at risk.
Having many sexual partners or having any type of unprotected sexual relationship with someone who has had many sexual partners increases the chances of getting an STI, and this applies as much to heterosexuals as to homosexuals.
The best approach to oral sex, if you have a male partner, is to use a non-lubricated condom. For women, a dental dam (the flat piece of latex dentists use) can be purchased at any pharmacy, or you can even cut open a non lubricated condom. In other words, swallowing pre-ejaculatory fluid or ejaculatory fluid (also called sperm or semen) is not recommended as these could transmit HIV as well according to certain researchers. In a long-term, stable, monogamous relationship, you and your partner can get fully tested before initiating sexual activities such as oral sex or full intercourse; this however does not guarantee you will not get a STI… It is everyone’s personal responsibility whether gay or straight to protect themselves in a sexual relationship. Prevention is the best way to remain healthy.
I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have more questions,
Jean-Pierre, for AlterHéros