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Research reveals that vaginal intercourse during a woman's menstrual period isn't that rare — around a quarter of women report that they "usually" have penetrative sex during their periods. (Interestingly, intercourse during periods is more widespread among women who generally have sex more often, and among those who've had a higher number of sex partners in their lifetimes. It's also more common among white, highly educated, young women. One more thing: the practice is indeed correlated with a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases.) 

What about oral sex during a menstrual period, though?

I'm not sure how common this practice is, but some people certainly do engage in it, or they wouldn't be asking questions about it on the internet. Is oral sex during menstruation medically safe, and what else do you need to know about it? That's what we'll have a look at today.

Is It Safe To Engage In Oral Sex During A Menstrual Period? 

To put it simply, oral sex involves both the genitals and the oral cavity. You may think of the genitals as the main risk factor, but keep in mind that the oral cavity can hold over 600 different bacterial species, not all of which are "friendly". In general, STDs aside, it's safer to have oral sex with a person who practices meticulous oral care. 

Menstruation does bring a few issues of its own. Though oral transmission of various sexually transmitted diseases is not discussed all that much, it is indeed possible to spread STDs like HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, and others in this way. Semen, vaginal secretions, and saliva, are all bodily fluids that can facilitate this, though saliva very rarely leads to HIV infection. Menstrual blood is a different matter. Men who have oral sex with a HIV positive partner during her period will increase their risk of becoming infected themselves, especially if they have known injuries or gum disease in their mouths. Conversely, a HIV positive man with gum disease or oral injuries can pass the infection onto his female partner.

In short, while unprotected oral sex is generally safer (not safe — just safer) than unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse, you'll want to pay special attention to oral sex during periods if the STD status of either partner is unknown. Dental dams can help here, and home-made dental dams can be created using regular or female condoms, though this isn't as good as using the real thing. (Note: the same very much holds true outside of a woman's menstrual periods, as well!)

Should both partners be monogamous (I hate to say it, but that's sometimes difficult to verify) and free of any sexually transmitted diseases (as verified by STD testing), oral sex during menstrual periods doesn't pose any special risks. 

Isn't Oral Sex During Periods Just Gross?

If you feel like that, as the receiving or giving partner, definitely skip oral sex during a menstrual period. Periods tend to last between four and seven days, so you won't have to wait forever. If you're both STD-free and would like to give it a try, meanwhile, just make sure to communicate well and stop if either of you feels uncomfortable. 

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