Can STDs Be Passed on Through Oral Sex?
Yes, it’s possible to catch an STD in your mouth or throat if you have oral sex with someone infected. There won’t always be symptoms, but if any appear, they could include a sore throat (chlamydia), swollen lymph nodes (gonorrhoea) and small sores (syphilis and herpes).
The symptoms that you’ll notice if you catch an STD in this manner will usually be localised to the area infected, meaning they’re completely different to catching the STD in your genitals. In this article we take a look at the potential symptoms of an oral STD.
Oral STD Symptoms By STD
To make it easier to work out if you could have the symptoms of an oral STD, we’ve gone through the most common STDs individually.
Oral chlamydia symptoms
If you catch chlamydia through oral sex then you’ll rarely notice symptoms and the only way to know for certain you have it is by performing an STD test. Some of the symptoms that you might notice though include a sore throat and redness at the back of the throat. It’s worth noting that even if you don’t notice symptoms you can still pass the condition on.
Oral gonorrhoea symptoms
If you catch gonorrhoea by performing oral sex on an infected individual then you’re unlikely to notice any symptoms. In many cases the only way to know you have it is by carrying out an STD test using a swab sample from the throat. If you do happen to notice symptoms it will usually be in the form of a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
The symptoms of syphilis are the same if they affect you in the genitals – following vaginal sex – or in the mouth – following oral sex. Syphilis will show in the shape of small sores known as chancres three weeks to three months after infection. On occasion the sores may go unnoticed or may be mistaken for another ailment such as an ulcer. Even once the sores disappear you are still infected and can pass the condition on.
It’s common to pass genital herpes on following oral sex with someone who has an active herpes outbreak. If you have sex with someone who you notice has sores on their penis or vagina you should stop immediately and this includes oral sex. Herpes will show in the form of sores around your mouth. Following your initial outbreak the sores will disappear, but you may have further outbreaks in future as herpes is never cured.
However, there are a number of infections that could be mistaken for herpes, which you can find out more about in our recent blog: What Could be Mistaken for Herpes?
Although it’s possible to catch HIV through oral sex, this would usually only be possible if you had bleeding gums or lips and even then it’s very rare. In these instances the symptoms would be exactly the same as if you caught HIV through vaginal or anal sex. Early symptoms of HIV are similar to those associated with the flu and usually appear 2 to 6 weeks following infection. You can find out more about these symptoms on our HIV Guide.
There won’t always be symptoms
It’s worth pointing out that there aren’t always symptoms when you catch an STD and that’s still true if you catch it performing oral sex. As with any STD the only way to be completely certain that you’ve caught it is by taking a sexual health test. Your Sexual Health offer a range of STD tests that will diagnose STDs affecting your throat. Find out more in one of our helpful articles: Are there any STDs with no symptoms?
Which test should you carry out?
If you catch an STD by performing oral sex you will often require an STD test to diagnose it. The type of test that you take will depend on the condition that you want to test for. Some of the potential options are included below: –
A throat swab will often be required to diagnose bacterial sexual health infections including chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Symptomatic Lesion Swab
If you notice a lesion or spot that could be caused by either herpes or syphilis then you can take a swab sample from the lesion itself to diagnose it. In these instances the lesion must be open and not have dried up or scabbed over.
There are a range of STDs which can be diagnosed by a simple blood test including syphilis, HIV and herpes. This is the same whether you’ve caught the STD through oral, anal or vaginal sex.