Fellatio, cunnilingus, going down––the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior has collected data that shows that more than half of women from the ages of 18-39 had given or received oral sex in the 90 days prior to the survey. More than half of men aged 18-39 had also received and given oral sex in the 90 days previous to the survey.
So why do we have such a hard time talking to our partners about it if most of us are ‘going down?’ A taboo exists where it is unpopular to use protection during oral sex. As it turns out, however, many sexually transmitted infections are passed around orally. About 7.1 percent of males aged 20-24 have caught an STI and 13.4 percent of females aged 20-24 have caught an STI.
Many people think that having oral sex without condoms or dental dams provides the partner with more pleasure, but in my opinion, a one-night stand that you don’t know well won’t necessarily be pleasurable anyway.
If you decide that going down on your partner is absolutely imperative to do without protection, there are some things you should make sure of first. For instance, be open with your partner and ask them if they have been tested for STIs. If they do not want to answer the question, you have some thinking to do—maybe you don’t want to participate in sexual acts with someone who is embarrassed to talk about their past or believe that they are immune to STIs.
Another thing to think about is that when you are having sex with someone without protection, you are coming in contact with everyone who has had contact with that person’s genitals. Oral sex may take you upwards of 20 minutes, but the herpes virus lasts a lifetime. Oral herpes can turn in to genital herpes from a simple cold sore you get when the seasons change.
We don’t think about the what-ifs when we’re in the heat of the moment. Some may say it’s a turn-off to ask the important questions, but all of us have it on our minds the next morning. This causes anxiety and feelings of doubt, especially when you have not known your sexual partner for more than a few hours.
In our college years, it is so important to take a step back when engaging in fellatio, cunnilingus and going-down. Our hook-up culture leads us to believe that we are impervious to STIs and that it’s “not a huge deal” if you go down on someone and never see them again. You cannot, however, misread the data that about 1 in 10 people ages 20-24 have contracted an STI, and that person may not even know it at the time of your hook-up. Be conscious, responsible and respectable to your body. If not, you may become another statistic.