STDs Expert Forum
Expert opinion
About This Forum:

The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Expert opinion

Hi Sir,

I recently posted a question concerning my STD risk and have copied your reply below.  As my risk for an STD is very low if I do not develop any symptoms in 2 weeks and hypothetically speaking if I meet a woman and desire starting a monogamous sexual relationship, is it safe for me to do so? Please see attached below:

If this is your only potential exposure, you are at little or no risk for any STD and testing is a low priority unless you develop symptoms, such as penile sores or discharge or, even less likely, oral sores or sore throat.

Oral sex is safe sex -- not entirely risk free, but with a far lower chance of disease transmission than vaginal or anal sex.  The reason is that oral infection with STDs is far less common than genital or anal infection; and even when oral infection is present, it is not efficiently transmitted by oral sex.  And cunnilingus -- oral sex on female partners -- is even lower risk than fellatio (penile-oral contact).  Of course condom-protected vaginal sex is very low risk as well.  Condoms are excellent protection if they are properly used (in place for all contact) and do not break.  (Microscopic leaks that can result in STD/HIV transmission are mostly an urban myth, at least for latex and polyurethane condoms.)  A final consideration is that most escorts -- i.e. expensive sex workers by appointment -- generally are very good at protecting themselves and tend to have low rates of STD.  So it probably is unlikely your partner had gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, active herpes, etc.


Thanks for your time!
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Welcome back to the Forum. You did not need to start a new question for this follow-up.  I will however address it.

The question you ask is a numbers issue which I would rephrase as "How likely is it that I could get an STD from an oral exposure, particularly if it is condom protected". The answer is that it is extraordinarily unlikely that you would get an STD of any sort from such an encounter and thus it is most likely that starting a new relationship with a new partner would not have untoward consequences.  Can we be 100% certain- no. Things happen. Perhaps you have an STD that you have carried without symptoms for a long period of time, perhaps somehow you did acquire an STD but the realistic chance that you have or caught something is truly miniscule and not something to worry about.  

Thus my advice would be not to worry - I would not.  On the other hand, if this is on your mind, for peace of mind, you could seek testing. It is easily performed and very accurate. The chance that you would find that you are infected however is, as I've already said, minuscule.  

Feel free to follow-up with either Dr. Handsfield or me but not both .EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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