Oral sex is the stimulation of the genitals using the mouth and tongue. It is one of the ways that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are most frequently passed on.
You can catch an STI if you have just one sexual partner. However, the more partners you have, the greater the risk of catching an infection.
STIs commonly caught through oral sex are:
Infections less frequently passed on through oral sex include:
The symptoms of an STI vary depending on the type of infection. However, most STIs are treatable if detected early enough.
If you think you may have an infection, or if you have had unprotected sex, it's important to visit your GP, local family planning clinic or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic as soon as possible.
Find your nearest sexual health service.
If left untreated, STIs not only are uncomfortable and embarrassing but also can seriously affect your health and fertility.
You can reduce the risk of STI transmission during oral sex by making sure you or your partner wears a condom.
You can use a dental dam to cover the anus or female genitals during oral sex. A dental dam is a latex or polyurethane (very thin, soft plastic) square, of about 15cm by 15cm. It acts as a barrier to help prevent STIs passing from one person to another.
Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.