What is oral sex?
The fun stuff
NSW Government
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Whether you’re preparing for penetrative sex or you’re just not quite ready to go ‘all the way’; oral sex is a great way to experience and experiment with intimacy. Officially, we call it ‘cunnilingus’ (for vaginas) or ‘fellatio’ (for penises) — but for now, let’s just stick to oral sex and get down to it. 

What is it and most importantly, how do you have oral sex safely? 

What exactly is oral sex?

It’s the stimulation of the vulva and clitoris, penis or anus by the mouth or tongue. As with most kinds of sex, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Make sure you communicate with your partner clearly before, during and after to make sure they’re comfortable — and of course you need to feel comfortable too — understanding what it means to have and give clear consent applies to oral sex just as it does to sexual intercourse. 

It can take a little bit of practice and discussion with your partner to work out what you both like best, sometimes it might lead to climax and sometimes it wont — as always, climax is not the goal because all forms of sex can still be enjoyable without it. It will also be different with every new person because we’re all unique, no two bodies are the same and no two people will enjoy the exact same things in the bedroom. 

How do you have oral sex safely?

While oral sex isn’t considered to be penetrative sex or sexual intercourse; it’s still sex. It’s important to know that ‘sex’ as an act can refer to many different things including mutual masturbation, sexting, intimate touching and digital penetration (you may know this better as ‘fingering’). So, when it comes to being safe — we should still use protection during oral sex. A condom is your best option in terms of protection from STIs from a penis. Make sure you know how to put one on properly, to its most effective. Remember, you can still catch and spread an STI during oral sex, so using a form of barrier protection is just as important is it would be during penetrative sex. Another option for this is a dental dama stretchable square of latex used as a barrier during certain dental procedures to keep particles from falling into the throat. Also used as a barrier for safer sex during cunnilingus and anilingus (oral sex of the vulva and/or anus). Either way, it’s imperative to have a protection plan in place before engaging in any form of sexual activity, including oral sex.  

No, you can’t get pregnant

However you’re still at risk of catching an STI…the most common ones being herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis. None of which you want to be carrying around! 

So use a condom

Stay safe by using a condom if there is a penis involved, or a dam if it’s mouth to vulva or mouth to anus.  There will be less body fluid and skin-to-skin contact (which is how STIs are transmitted). 

How should I prepare for oral sex?

When talking about any kind of intimacy, the only elements that need to be 100% clear are that you should always engage in any kind of sex safely and with consent. So when you start having sex — oral included — be prepared with condoms, dams, lube and have an open discussion with your partner beforehand to talk about what you do and do not feel comfortable with. It’s also a good idea to consider STI testing before and after, as oral sex can expose you to STIs but also, sometimes it may lead to penetrative sex. 

Do you have questions about your sex life? Why not join the conversation on the Play Safe sex and relationship forum or ask Nurse Nettie a question. If you would like to find out more about STI testing and STI treatment in Sydney and NSW, you’ll find all the information you need here.

Could I have an STI?