Before you have oral sex it is very important to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page.
Make sure to talk to your partner about the kinds of sex that you both want to have. Agreeing to have oral sex (or any type of sex for that matter) is called consenting. Both you and your partner need to consent before having oral sex.
Remember that either of you can change your mind any time!
What is oral sex?
Oral sex is when a person uses their mouth to play with another person's penis, vagina or anus.
People of all sexes, genders and sexual orientations enjoy oral sex!
It’s not possible to get pregnant from oral sex.
There is very little to no chance of passing HIV through oral sex, but some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed.
Using a barrier (condom or dental dam) for oral sex can lower the chance of passing many STIs.
The words we use to talk about oral sex
Everyone has a right to choose the words that they want to use to talk about their bodies and genitals. The medical words for genitals are penis, vulva and anus.
Most guys have penises. A penis can be soft or hard (erect). A penis has a head and a shaft. Some penises have foreskins and some don't. A penis can also be called a dick, cock, strapless, etc.
Most women have vulvas. Many people call these genitals the vagina, but the vagina is actually just one part of the vulva. Vulvas also have other parts, including inner and outer lips (also called labia) and the clitoris. A vulva can also be called a pussy, front hole, etc.
Anus is the word for the opening of a person's butt. An anus can also be called a butthole, ass, arse, bum, etc.
Kinds of oral sex
Fellatio‚ also known as a blow job / giving head / headjob / blowing / going down
Oral sex on someone's penis is called fellatio (fel-lay-she-o). When a person uses their mouth on another person's penis it can make their partner feel good. Most people want the focus of oral sex to be on the head of the penis, since this is the most sensitive part. Watch the teeth, though – contact between a penis and someone's teeth isn't usually appreciated and can reduce or even end the fun.
Some people produce a bit of clear natural lubricant that comes to the tip of the penis when they are just getting excited – this is usually called pre-cum. When a person who is getting fellatio ejaculates (cums) a fluid called semen comes out of the penis.
Some people like to use a combination of a hand job (stroking the penis with the hands) and fellatio.
Cunnilingus‚ also known as going down / eating out
Oral sex on someone's vulva is called cunnilingus (cun-nil-in-gus). When a person uses their tongue and lips on another person's vulva it can make their partner feel good. Most people want the focus of oral sex to be on the clitoris (clit), which is the most sensitive part. Holding the outer lips of the vulva back gently with the hands will allow for easier exploration of the whole area.
During cunnilingus, the walls of the vagina may lubricate or "get wet" and produce a liquid called vaginal fluid (frontal fluid). Some people also produce a fluid that comes out of the urethra when they have an orgasm– this is ejaculate or cum.
Some people like it when a sex toy or one or more fingers are inserted inside the vagina during oral sex to add extra stimulation.
Anilingus‚ also known as rimming / a rim job
Oral sex on someone's anus is called anilingus (a-nil-in-gus). When a person uses their tongue and lips on another person's anus it can make their partner feel good. It is a good idea for the person who is getting anilingus to wash their anus beforehand.
STIs and their symptoms
Oral sex can be a lot of fun, but it comes with a chance of passing STIs.
Some people who have chlamydia notice a discharge from the vagina, urethra (pee hole) or anus, or it may hurt when they pee, but most people have no symptoms. Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. It can damage the reproductive organs if left untreated.
Some people who have gonorrhea will have a discharge from the vagina, urethra or anus, but most people don't have any symptoms. Gonorrhea can also infect the throat and cause it to be sore. It can be cured with antibiotics. Gonorrhea can damage the reproductive organs if left untreated.
Most people who have hepatitis A experience some symptoms such as feeling tired or losing their appetite. It usually clears up on its own after a while, but in the meantime hepatitis A can affect how well the liver works. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A.
People with hepatitis B often do not have symptoms. Most people's bodies are able to fight off the infection. Hepatitis B can affect how well the liver works, but treatments can help fight the virus and keep the liver healthy. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B.
A person can get herpes on their genitals or their mouth (cold sores). Most people with herpes don't have symptoms, but some people with herpes experience a tingling or burning feeling on the skin or an outbreak of blisters or sores. There is no cure for herpes but medication can help to reduce the number and severity of outbreaks.
When they first get HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), many people have no symptoms but some people feel like they have the flu. HIV can weaken the body's immune system if it is not treated. There is no cure for HIV but there are medications that help people who have HIV to live long and healthy lives. These medications also help to prevent passing HIV to others.
People with HPV (human papillomavirus) usually have no symptoms. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts. In rare cases, some types can eventually lead to cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and throat. Most cases of HPV clear on their own. Genital warts can be treated but they can come back. There is a vaccine that can prevent most cases of genital warts and HPV-related cancers.
Some people get a painless sore on their genitals, anus or mouth. Some people might also get a rash, but not everyone has symptoms. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. It can cause serious health problems if it is not treated.
These charts show how easily these common STIs can be passed from different kinds of oral sex if one partner has the STI and the other does not. The charts apply to both giving and receiving oral sex (unless otherwise noted). The chance of getting many STIs is lower when you use a barrier (condom or dental dam). See the next section for information about HIV.
Fellatio (blow jobs)
|Chlamydia||Gonorrhea||Hepatitis A||Hepatitis B||Herpes||HPV||Syphilis|
|easily passed||easily passed||cannot be passed||less easily passed||easily passed||easily passed||easily passed|
Cunnilingus (eating out)
|Chlamydia||Gonorrhea||Hepatitis A||Hepatitis B||Herpes||HPV||Syphilis|
|less easily passed||less easily passed||cannot be passed||less easily passed||easily passed||easily passed||easily passed|
|Chlamydia||Gonorrhea||Hepatitis A*||Hepatitis B||Herpes||HPV||Syphilis|
|less easily passed||less easily passed||easily passed||easily passed||easily passed||easily passed||easily passed|
* A person can get hepatitis A from giving anilingus, but not from receiving it.
If you are sexually active, it is a good idea to get tested regularly for STIs.
Can HIV be passed through oral sex?
There is no chance of a person getting HIV from receiving any type of oral sex. There is also no chance of getting HIV from giving anilingus (rimming someone).
There is almost no chance of getting HIV from giving someone fellatio (a blow job) when the person does not ejaculate (cum), or from giving cunnilingus (eating someone out).
There is very little chance of a person getting HIV from giving fellatio (a blow job), if the person ejaculates (cums) in their mouth.
Ways to prevent passing HIV
There is very little to no chance of HIV being passed through oral sex, but for people who are at risk of passing or coming into contact with HIV through vaginal or anal sex here are some prevention options:
- Condoms are a great way to help prevent HIV and STIs. Just make sure to use them correctly each time you have sex.
- People who do not have HIV can also take medications to help prevent getting it. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication that a person takes starting before and continuing after they might come into contact with HIV. Most people on PrEP take it every day.
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is medication that can be taken up to 72 hours after a person might have come into contact with HIV, to help prevent the person from getting HIV. PEP is taken for 28 days. It is meant for emergencies only (for example, after a condom breaks during sex).
- People who have HIV can take medications daily to keep their bodies healthy and also prevent them from passing HIV to others through sex. This is because HIV medications can lower the amount of HIV in the body to a level so low that tests can't detect it. This is called an undetectable viral load. When a person maintains an undetectable viral load, they cannot pass HIV through sex.
Condoms and dental dams for safer oral sex
Using a barrier (condom or dental dam) can lower the chance of getting or passing an STI through oral sex.
Visit a local public health unit, sexual health clinic or HIV organization to get free condoms! Some of these places also have free dental dams.
Production of this document has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
This resource was adapted from a resource originally published by the Canadian Public Health Association. CATIE thanks YouthCO (BC) and the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia for reviewing this resource. We also thank the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) and Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, University of Toronto, for medical review.
Writer: Mallory Harrigan
Design: Pam Sloan Designs