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The Risks of Oral Sex

It's Not as Safe as Teens Think


Updated May 27, 2014

While talking to a group of teenagers recently, I heard a term that was completely new to me. Many of the teens talked about "friends with benefits". Being a naive father of three teenage daughters I had to ask what that meant exactly. I was shocked to find out that many teenagers from 14 to 18 years of age were developing a new type of sex only relationship. It was explained to me that boys and girls were "hooking up" for sex, both intercourse and oral, but did not consider themselves to be dating or in a intimate monogamous relationship. They considered one another to be "friends with benefits". The more questions I asked the more concerned I became.

A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology surveyed a group of 10th. graders about their thoughts and perceptions on sex. The fact that teenagers in the 10th. grade were sexually active was no big surprise. What was surprising was the survey found teenagers were having oral sex more often than intercourse and with many more partners. Most disturbing was that a majority of those teens surveyed said they did not use condoms during oral sex.

Why Are Teens so Sexually Active?

Peer pressure is a very strong influence in a teenager's life. But that is just one factor in a teen's decision to engage in sexual behavior. Reasons include:
  • Teens want to be popular among their peers. Teens believe that if they engage in sex, oral or intercourse they will be viewed as more popular. Studies show just the opposite. While they may be viewed as "popular" those teens who engage in unsafe sex are not well liked among their peers.
  • Teens believe oral sex is the safe alternative to intercourse, both from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The statistics prove otherwise. Millions of teenagers become infected with STD's such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and herpes each year and oral sex is a route by which teens are becoming infected.

What Are the Risks of Oral Sex?

Oral to Penis Contact
Theoretical Risk -
Performing oral sex or "giving a blow job" carries a theoretical risk of transmission for the receptive partner because infected pre-ejaculate ("pre-cum") fluid or semen (cum) can get into the mouth. Any open sores, cold sores, etc. can be a route by which the virus or bacteria can enter the bloodstream and infect. For the insertive partner there is a theoretical risk of infection because infected blood from a partner's bleeding gums or an open sore could come in contact with a scratch, cut, or sore on the penis.

Documented Risk - Although the risk is many times smaller than anal or vaginal sex, HIV has been transmitted to receptive partners through oral sex ("blow jobs"), even in cases when insertive partners didn't ejaculate (cum).

Oral to Vagina Contact

Theoretical Risk - Performing oral sex on a woman carries a theoretical risk of HIV transmission for the insertive partner (the person who is licking or sucking the vaginal area) because infected vaginal fluids and blood can get into the mouth. (This includes, but is not limited to, menstrual blood). Likewise, there is a theoretical risk of HIV transmission during oral sex for the receptive partner (the person who is having her vagina licked or sucked) if infected blood from oral sores or bleeding gums comes in contact with vulvar or vaginal cuts or sores.

Documented Risk - The risk of HIV transmission during oral sex is low compared to vaginal and anal sex. However, there have been cases of HIV transmission and STDs resulting from oral-vaginal sex.

Key Points to Remember

For Teens -
  • Oral sex carries a risk for both HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • HIV and some STDs are forever meaning they can't be cured.
  • While you may seem more popular, having unprotected oral sex does not make you more liked among your peers. In fact, studies show that people like you and respect you less when you have unprotected oral sex.
  • During oral sex, both the boy and girl are at risk for disease.
  • Getting a reputation for being "promiscuous", "slutty", or "easy" will stay with you long after high school is over.
  • If you can't talk to a parent about oral sex, talk to your school counselor, a teacher you like or your family doctor.
  • If you have questions about oral sex you can e-mail me here.

What Every Teen Should Know About HIV

10 Ways to Make Love Without Having Sex

For Parents and Those Counseling Teens -

  • Stress the risks of oral sex for boys and girls.
  • Make them aware that being popular does not mean they are well liked.
  • Stress that they can come to you and discuss anything, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be for you.
  • Know what your teen is doing, where they are going, and who they are going to be with.

Talking to Your Kids About HIV

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. AIDS / HIV
  4. Positive Living
  5. Youth HIV Resources
  6. The Risks of Oral Sex (How to Counsel Teens)

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