By Dr. Amy Jones, Ob/Gyn
It’s National Kissing Day! And while, yes, we agree there are way too many contrived holidays, we’re fully on board with this one. But don’t sell your mouth short. It is capable of delivering pleasure in oh so many fun ways. How better to celebrate this day than with amazing oral sex?! It can give you the most mind-blowing orgasm you have ever experienced. So, in honor of National Kissing Day, let’s talk about oral!
Oral sex is incredibly intimate way to bond with your partner and can result in some of the most amazing orgasms you’ve ever experienced. It doesn’t get as much attention as intercourse does in the media, possibly because it is so often thought of as foreplay or an adjunct to actual sex. We’re here to champion oral sex in all of it’s stand-alone glory. Oral sex is actual sex people. When your doctor asks about your sexual partners you should include those partners with whom you only engage in oral sex.
The term “oral sex” is broad. It refers to a variety of sexual behaviors all involving the use of one’s mouth to arouse and pleasure their sexual partner. It may be an adjunct to intercourse (vaginal or anal penetration), or it may be the only form of sex you engage in. In either case it is still definitely considered sex. If you are giving or receiving oral pleasure, you are having sex.
Typically we think oral sex as mouth to vulva/vagina (cunnilingus) or mouth to penis (fellatio). Rimming, or mouth to anus stimulation, is also a form of oral sex. And stimulating other body parts (breasts and nipples, testicles, thighs) with your tongue or mouth counts too!
While you can’t get pregnant from having oral sex, it is not without risk. The growing number of head and neck cancers caused by the HPV virus highlights the dangers of having unprotected oral sex. Some of the sexually transmitted infections known to be transmissible via the oral route are: HPV, HSV (herpes), Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HIV, Hepatitis B. Although these sexually transmitted infections usually manifest in the genital area, they can also appear in the mouth and throat, especially chlamydia or gonorrhea. We now know that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is the primary cause of cervical cancer, can also infect the mouth and throat causing devastating head, neck, and throat cancers. Your dentist might do a thorough mouth exam to look for concerning lesions. And please don’t forget the HPV vaccine! It is approved for ages 9-45 and is extremely effective in preventing infection with high risk HPV viral strains known to cause cancer.
Infections transmitted by bodily fluids, such as HIV, are more likely to be transmitted to the person performing oral sex than the person receiving it. Those transmitted skin-to-skin like HSV can be passed either way. The HSV-1 virus, which we typically think of as “oral herpes,” can infect the genitals. Similarly HSV-2, or what is often referred to a “genital herpes,” can infect the mouth. You can get either strain in either location. In the end, it doesn’t matter which HSV strain is present, they both act the same. In addition to STIs, rimming can expose you or your partner to various other diseases typically transmitted via the fecal-oral route.
We’re certainly not trying to scare anyone off from oral sex, quite the contrary! We’re just advocating for safe play. The key to making oral sex safe is to avoid mouth-to-genital contact and the transmission of any bodily fluids. Condoms can be used to perform oral sex on men. For going down on women, thin sheets of latex called dental dams can be purchased online or in some shops that carry sex toys. There's also the female condom but, unfortunately, these aren't as easy to come by as the male version. If you don’t have a dental dam, simple plastic wrap can also do the trick. Why not make your protection playful? Make it fun!..In addition to condoms or dental dams add a flavored arousal oil, lip gloss or lube.
While we’re switching gears from serious to fun, let’s talk about positions. Essentially any position which you use for penetrative sex can be used as an oral sex position. Try all fours, against a wall, or the mutually pleasurable 69 position!
Here are few charmingly named positions we came across in our research…
- The Reverse Hookup
- The Lazy 69
- The Massage Envy
- Downward Dog
- The Strong Man
..we’ll let you go ahead and google those.
Ok time to delve into a couple oral sex mysteries or misconceptions.
First, we’ve all heard that pineapple juice can.. sweeten the load, so to speak. Is this true?
Not surprisingly, published studies on this topic don't seem to exist. However anecdotal suggests that pineapple can indeed make a difference. In fact, eating any foods with higher sugar content, like fruit, could possibly make bodily fluids taste a little sweeter. That effect wouldn’t be noticeable right away, however, especially not in men since prostate fluid in ejaculate can be made weeks or months before.
Will I get sick if I swallow?
Assuming your male partner is free of sexually transmitted infections, there's no evidence that swallowing semen can cause any harm. Some studies have even suggested that exposure to semen offers strange health benefits but there is no reliable evidence to support these claims. It’s really about personal preference.
Not everyone likes performing oral sex. Not everyone likes receiving it. Others prefer oral sex over intercourse. For some it is the only type of sex they choose to have. Each of these preferences is NORMAL.
The important thing is to communicate with your partner to figure out what both of you enjoy. Then get after it!..safely.