My boyfriend wants to try oral sex with me, but it’s weird. What are the downsides of oral sex?

It’s great that you are thinking about possible risks associated with oral sex– there are definitely some important ones. Herpes & HPV are both viral STIs that transmit via skin-to-skin contact. Both viruses present themselves in the mouth and genitals. Herpes can cause cold sores on the outside of the mouth and around the genitals. HPV can cause abnormal cell growth in the mouth, throat, and genitals. It’s also possible to contract Chlamydia or Gonorrhea in the throat through unprotected oral sex. Symptoms are generally a sore throat. Flavored condoms & dental dams exist purely for protected oral sex. Check out your Teen Clinic or local pharmacy for condoms & dental dams; be sure to use them every time!

Avoid using flavored condoms for vaginal intercourse, however.  The artificial flavoring can contain sugars and other chemicals that may cause vaginal infection.  To reduce the risk of STI transmission and pregnancy during vaginal intercourse, just use a plain condom! And don’t forget to switch condoms between sexual activities.

At Teen Clinic, we think the most important thing is consent. If you’re thinking about engaging in oral sex, make sure you feel safe and healthy in the relationship. Know that you have the right to change your mind at any moment. And if you’re sexually active, be sure to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs by using condoms and choosing a reliable birth control method.  These are an important part of well-being, too. Before you decide, it would be a good idea to get tested! Teen Clinic provides low-cost and confidential STI testing.

At the end of the day, it’s your body—and you have the right to make decisions that work for you.