We’ve all heard of Sexually Transmitted Infections “down there,” but a lesser known location that nobody ever wants to talk about is “mouth STIs.” Well, open wide! We’re changing that attitude right now!
Today we’re taking a look at the Top 5 Myths about Mouth STIs & STDs!
Wait… Mouth STIs?
That’s right! Sexually transmitted infections can pop up in places far beyond your bathing suit area. Performing and/or receiving oral sex can lead to mouth STIs. Here are some of the most common and high-risk infections that can be orally transmitted between partners:
Myth #1: Oral Sex is Totally Safe
Sadly untrue! Sure, sticking to strictly “mouth stuff” will help you avoid any risk of pregnancy. But it’s not going to help you when it comes to mouth STIs! Oral sex, without protection, is not safe sex. And these STIs are equal opportunity infectors.
Myth #2: Okay, Well Oral Sex is Nearly Safe!
It’s true that oral sex puts you at lower risk for STIs than traditional genital-to-genital intercourse. That said, you’re still nowhere near in-the-clear. You still need to know and understand your risk factors.
For instance, you also should take you and your partner’s dental health into consideration. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are some factors that may make some individuals more susceptible to mouth STIs:
- Unprotected oral sex
- Tooth decay, gum disease, bleeding gums, and oral cancer
- Sores in the mouth, genitals or anus
- Oral exposure to seminal fluid
By making a conscious effort to control these risk factors, you’ll become much more protected against mouth STIs.
Myth #3: Condoms Eliminate Any Risk of Mouth STIs
Using condoms during oral sex is a great start. Unfortunately, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Condoms help to reduce the risk of mouth STIs being transmitted, but cannot eliminate them completely. Many STIs can actually be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. A condom simply cannot fully cover every possible area that is susceptible to infection.
For example, HIV is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. In this case, a condom is significantly more effective at reducing the risk of transmission. However, something like chlamydia can be contracted by exposure to the skin around the genitals. In this case, the condom can’t cover everything.
As you can see, condoms can be a big help. Sadly, they can’t keep you completely safe.
Myth #4: Mouth STIs Are Always Visible
Think again! You’re probably picturing the type of visible sores that are usually associated with “mouth herpes.” While the common sores that are associated with Herpes Simplex Virus (or HSV). These are easy telltales of the infection… but sores or other physical symptoms of Mouth STIs are not always detectable. In the case of herpes, there may not be any visible symptoms at all.
Herpes isn’t alone. Gonorrhea, or “the Clap,” is another bacterial infection that can affect your mouth and throat. Symptoms of oral gonorrhea may include a sore throat and difficulty swallowing. Performing oral sex on someone that is carrying the Clap can transmit an infection in your throat. Similarly, if any of your partners have oral gonorrhea and perform oral sex on you, they can transfer the infection directly to your genitals.
These are just two examples of mouth STIs. There are plenty more! As always, it pays to prepare.
Myth #5: You Can’t Test For Mouth STIs
Nope! You absolutely can be tested for areas beyond the genital region! This is called extragenital testing, and it is just as important as traditional genital-testing, which clinics usually rely on. At myLAB Box, we offer extragenital testing to specifically cover infections of chlamydia or gonorrhea that may affect the mouth, throat and rectal regions. Depending on your lifestyle and sexual activity, this testing method is a powerful new weapon in the fight against STIs.
Fortunately, the results from all of myLAB Box’s home STI test kits are lab-certified. This means that these are the exact same quality results that you would receive from a clinic or doctor’s office.
Think, Test and Be Merry
Oral sex may possibly decrease your level of risk, but it cannot help you to avoid oral STDs. When you engage in oral sex, routine extragenital testing is the only way to stay completely in control of your sexual health. Otherwise, these infections can go undiagnosed, even if you are screened with a traditional genital-only test.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA
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