Someone asked us:
Q. Not sure if you folks are the right ones to ask, but I was wondering about lesbian safe sex. What are the actual chances of getting an STD from oral sex? I’ve heard you can get herpes from cold sores, so obviously avoiding oral sex when one’s got a cold sore is a good plan, but outside of that, what are the actual chances of getting an STD from standard lesbian sex?
You’re right, herpes can be transmitted through oral sex. But keep in mind that it can be even when someone has no symptoms at the time. For lesbian partners, if one partner has herpes, the best way to avoid transmitting it to anyone else is by using dental dams for oral sex. Using condoms on shared sex toys is also a good idea to minimize the risk. Other STDs like syphilis and HPV can be spread through oral sex, too. And while it’s less likely through oral sex than through vaginal or anal, HIV can also be spread orally. Even fingering carries a risk — that’s why there’s no such thing as “safe” sex, only safer sex. For sex toys, using condoms and cleaning them regularly is recommended.
If you’re concerned about spreading STDs, you and your partner might want to get tested together beforehand and continue to get tested regularly, as some STDs take a while to show up. And if you go to your local Planned Parenthood health center, make sure to stock up on condoms and dental dams while you’re there!
-Tobias at PPFA