Opened condom packet against light blue background to represent condom usage to prevent STD transmission through oral sex

What STDs Can Be Transmitted Through Oral Sex?

Medically reviewed by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT on November 26, 2023. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Many people associate STIs with penetrative sex, but it’s still possible to be infected or transmit an infection by engaging in oral sex. [1] “Oral sex” encompasses any time your mouth comes in contact with another person’s vagina (cunnilingus), penis (fellatio), or anus (anilingus). [1]

Can you get an STD from oral sex? The answer is yes: A total of seven types of common STIs are known to be transmitted orally. While routine sexual health testing is the best way to prevent STIs, if you’re sexually active, it can also be useful to know what symptoms to look for.

Below, we’ll cover each STI that can be transmitted orally and steps you can take to protect yourself and your sexual partners.

Understanding STI Transmission and Oral Sex

The CDC estimates as many as 1 in 5 American adults—almost 68 million people—are infected with an STI. [2] While STIs have existed for as long as humans have existed, rates of infection for certain infections (like syphilis and gonorrhea) have risen in recent years. [3]

In total, there are more than 30 different kinds of STIs, though some are more prevalent than others. All STIs are passed on through infectious microbes such as [2]:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites

These microscopic organisms have evolved to propagate through sexual contact, often through the bodily fluids secreted during sex. “Bodily fluids” include:

  • Semen
  • Pre-ejaculatory fluid (also called “precum”)
  • Vaginal fluids

Some STIs can also be transmitted through blood, and a few can spread through simple skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.

The oral sex act in particular is common among sexually active adults in the US. [1] According to the CDC, over 85% of sexually active adults in the US in the 18 to 44 age range report having had oral sex with a partner of the opposite biological sex at least once. [1] The practice is particularly prevalent among young people (41% of people between 15 and 19 years old report having had oral sex). [1]

What STIs Can You Get From Oral Sex?

When it comes to the STD oral sex connection, there are a number of possible STDs or STIs to look out for. According to the CDC, seven STIs are transmissible through oral sex [1]:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • HIV
  • Trichomoniasis

Below, we’ll detail signs you may have contracted them and what to do to ensure you get treatment.


Chlamydia is a bacterial STI that can be transmitted through any form of oral sex. While the infection can occur in anyone sexually active, it more often affects women. [4]

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs partly because it often presents with no noticeable symptoms. Even when signs do occur, they are frequently mild or easily mistaken for other health issues. [4]

If you do see symptoms of a chlamydia infection, you may notice [5]:

  • Genital discharge
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Testicular pain
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods

Chlamydia can infect the mouth as well as the genitals and anus. In rarer cases, chlamydia can also infect the eye if it makes contact with infected fluids. Chlamydia can also infect a baby during childbirth if the mother is infected. [4]

Chlamydia is a treatable sexually transmitted infection. The most common treatment modality is a 7-day course of the antibiotic doxycycline (typically 100 mg of oral medicine, taken twice a day). [4] It’s important to treat a chlamydia infection early to reduce the chance of complications. Long-term effects of chlamydia may lead to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) in women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB). [5]


Gonorrhea is another bacterial STI that can occur with no visible symptoms, especially in its early stages.[6] Symptoms of gonorrhea typically impact the genitals, but other parts of the body can also exhibit symptoms.

Vaginal symptoms generally include [6]:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Yellowish or bloody discharge from the vagina
  • Bleeding between periods

Alternatively, common penile symptoms include [6]:

  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Yellow, white, or green discharge from the penis

Left untreated, gonorrhea can pose serious health issues and may even cause fertility problems. When it infects the throat (pharyngeal or oral gonorrhea), gonorrhea is often mistaken for a condition like strep throat.

Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics. Usually, you’ll be administered a single dose of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, typically in the form of an injection. [6] Additionally, you’ll need to abstain from sex for at least 7 days following treatment. [6]

Private STD consultations


Herpes is a viral STI, of which there are two types [7]:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)

Both are capable of infecting the genitals, anus, rectum, lips, mouth, and throat, but HSV-1 more typically causes oral herpes while HSV-2 is most commonly associated with genital herpes.

Herpes is one of the most common STIs, and the CDC estimates that nearly 12% of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 have been infected with HSV-2. [7] Herpes can spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. There is currently no cure for herpes, though medicine can help you manage outbreaks and prevent transmitting the infection.

Unfortunately, herpes does not always present with symptoms. [8] The most visible symptoms are itchy, painful blisters that form on the infected area, which can burst and turn into sores or lesions.

Other symptoms of genital herpes include [8]:

  • A burning sensation while you urinate
  • Itching
  • Trouble urinating because blisters or sores block the urethra
  • Pain in the genitals
  • Flu-like symptoms

Oral herpes also causes sores or blisters, usually around the lips. These are referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. Sores can also appear inside your mouth, though this only happens in the early stages of the infection.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that commonly spreads via skin-to-skin contact with a chancre—a type of sore that is characteristic of syphilis in its early stages, usually within the first 3 weeks of infection. [9] Chancres can appear firm and round or open and wet, but they are usually painless. They show up at the site of infection, though this sometimes means they can be hard to spot near the genitals or rectum of an infected partner. In some cases, chancres can be mistaken for ingrown hairs, pimples, or simple blemishes. [9]

In its second stage, syphilis can progress to a rash that spreads to the back, pelvic region, chest, and stomach. [9] A rash can also affect the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Alongside the rash, many people experience [9]:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hair loss
  • Oral or genital sores
  • Unexplained weight loss

If it’s caught early, syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. However, advanced syphilis can be more difficult to treat and heightens your risk of serious health complications. At any stage of infection, syphilis can adversely impact the brain, nervous system, and eyes, causing complications such as blindness and paralysis. [9]

With an at-home Syphilis Test, you can catch a suspected infection early and reduce your risk of its progression.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

HPV, the most prevalent STI in the US, may be contracted through oral as well as penetrative sex or vaginal sex and skin-to-skin contact. It frequently presents with no observable symptoms, but those infected may develop warts (especially genital warts) from certain strains of HPV. [10]

In most cases, HPV dissipates on its own within 2 years of getting it. [11] However, the infection is highly contagious, and the best way to protect yourself and your partners is to get an HPV vaccine.

Notably, HPV is particularly dangerous for women because it’s been causally linked to cervical cancer. [10] HPV tests are available for women, but they won’t test for the infection itself—rather, they screen for signs of cervical cancer.

With that, the CDC sexually active women between the ages of 30 and 65 are encouraged to have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests to rule out the possibility of infection. [11]


Contracting HIV through oral sex is rare, but it is possible. [12] If you do contract HIV by either giving or receiving sex from an infected person, you may not notice symptoms for years after the infection originates. Sometimes, people who’ve been infected through oral sex notice flu-like symptoms shortly after infection. [12]

There is no cure for HIV, though treatment options have advanced tremendously over the past several decades. The primary mode of treatment is ART, or antiretroviral therapy, which requires you to take a medication that helps reduce how much of the virus is in your body. [13] However, even if you’re being treated, having an HIV infection elevates your risk of contracting other infections or developing certain cancers. [12]


Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a parasite. It’s rare to be transmitted orally, but when it happens, it’s caused by giving oral sex to an infected partner. [1] This can cause trichomoniasis of the throat. [1]

Women more readily notice symptoms of “trich” than men. However, if you’ve been infected, you might notice:

  • Penile or vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal inflammation, redness, or itching
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination

Trichomoniasis is treatable with a single-dose oral antibiotic (metronidazole, tinidazole, or secnidazole). [14] On occasion, a healthcare provider might prescribe a low-dose medication taken over several days. [14]

If you’re being treated for trichomoniasis, it’s crucial you notify your sexual partner(s) so that they can be treated too. To avoid passing the infection onto others, you’ll want to abstain from any type of sexual activity (oral sex, as well as other kinds of intimate touch) for at least 1 week after you’ve taken your final round of medicine. [14]

Can You Get STIs from Kissing?

Kissing is a generally low-risk activity compared to vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex.

However, it is possible to spread herpes or syphilis through kissing if you have blisters or sores on your lips or inside your mouth. While that does not mean you should completely refrain from kissing your sex partner, it does mean that it’s best to exercise some caution during outbreaks and be sure your partner is aware of any sores or blisters you are experiencing.

Prevent STIs Through Testing with Everlywell

Preventing the oral transmission of an STI or oral sex STD means practicing safe oral sex: using latex condoms or dental dams during oral sex prevents the transfer of bodily or genital fluids.

Along with barrier methods of protection, getting tested regularly for STIs is crucial for preventing their spread and your well-being. With Everlywell, both men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and women and people AFAB can screen for 6 common STDs conveniently and affordably. You’ll take your test at home, mail it to Everlywell’s CLIA-certified labs, and you’ll receive physician-reviewed results clueing you into your STI status. Or, meet with a clinician virtually, via Everlywell. They can speak to you about your concerns and provide STD treatment online.

To explore our complete Sexual Health collection, check out Everlywell STI Tests today.

Chlamydia in the Throat: Causes, Symptoms, and More

Can You Get HIV From Oral Sex?

Can You Get Gonorrhea From Oral?


  1. “STD Facts - STD Risk and Oral Sex.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Dec. 2021,
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine;Health and Medicine Division;Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice;Committee on Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States; Crowley JS, Geller AB, Vermund SH, editors. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Adopting a Sexual Health Paradigm. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2021 Mar 24. 1, Addressing STI Epidemics: Integrating Sexual Health, Intersectionality, and Social Determinants.Accessed 31 Oct. 2023.
  3. “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2021.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Apr. 2023,
  4. “Chlamydial Infections - STI Treatment Guidelines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 July 2021,
  5. “Chlamydia Trachomatis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2023,
  6. “Gonorrhea.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2023,
  7. “Detailed Std Facts - Genital Herpes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 July 2021,
  8. “Genital Herpes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Nov. 2022,
  9. “Syphilis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Oct. 2023,
  10. “Std Facts - Human Papillomavirus (HPV).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Apr. 2022,
  11. “HPV Infection.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Accessed 31 Oct. 2023.
  12. “STD Facts - STD Risk and Oral Sex.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Dec. 2021,
  13. “Treatment.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Oct. 2023,
  14. “Trichomoniasis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Accessed 31 Oct. 2023.
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