I'm recently single, and I like giving blowjobs. I know that I should use a condom for this, but that just seems weird—most people I know don't. Am I being stupid? What are the odds that I can catch something serious from that?
Right?!?! This is like the open secret of people who claim they engage in safe sex practices: everyone agrees it is correct yet few people actually do it, like actually quitting smoking for real. Also: dental dams. I saw them in my freshman dorm in college, and have not encountered them since.
So, this week's column is going to be a sort of round table discussion on condoms and blowjobs. First off, let's hear from the experts. It seems to me that HIV transmission is a primary concern when talking about HIV-negative folks and safer sex. So, from a 2003 InSite panel discussion entitled "Risk of HIV Infection Through Receptive Oral Sex:"
"Transmission of HIV by receptive fellatio without ejaculation is exceedingly rare." Further, "transmission by oral sex/fellatio with ejaculation, being the receptive partner, transmission is biologically plausible. We believe it occurs based on case evidence. It's a relatively rare event."
According to Science, all of these are definitely possible to get from dick-sucking: HPV, the herp, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis B. (On a side note, if y'all have health insurance/can afford it, go get hepatitis shots!)
But! This is pretty much information we all already knew, right? I think we can all agree that gloved blowjobs are the safest way to go, I mean, a-doy. Yet as the question-asker points out, and my anecdata confirm, very few people actually do this!
I polled some people willing to talk to me (anonymously) about their experiences with blowjobs and condoms. Here's what they say:
"Once, when my friend was going through a super-slutty nightly park-cruising phase, he got gonorrhea of the throat. Fortunately, his doctor gave him antibiotics, and then he was fine."
"Condoms suck. I was once told by a doctor that my throat infection could be an STD. Not from a blowjob, but from the other kind of oral sex. [Ed note: CUNNILINGUS!] Turns out it wasn't an STD."
"I guess I remember girls saying that they made guys wear them when they were 18, like the first three times, and then they stopped. I know I never did. I am aware of many women who regret giving certain blowjobs but I don't think the lack of condom usage was the reason."
"I have never once and that is true for most people I know. I got gonorrhea once in college."
I also got a few more votes in the "never have/don't know anyone who does" camp. Which, wow, I was actually pretty astounded: I couldn't find a single person who used condoms for head. Also, nobody had ever used dental dams at all. Also also, I found out that people sure do love to talk about blowjobs!
It seems like the consensus is that protected oral sex falls into the seatbelts-in-a-cab category of "I know I should but I don't" risky behavior. I know the pros use 'em, but readers, anyone else want to chime in here?
By the way, THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF UNSAFE SEX. I'm just trying to sort out what's happening out there on the streets. It's called journalism and yes, I sometimes engage in it.