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receptive vs. insertive in oral sex

Oct 28, 1996

mr. sowadsky. i am confused i need your help,if a woman has my penis in her mouth am i the insertive or rective partner? i ask that because you have a question where a man says he was performing oral sex and he called himself {insertive}. also in regards to this, are you saying that if someone is giving oral sex that even though they might be hiv+ as long as there is no {visible blood} that this is still a low risk for hiv infection? please explain. thank you.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your questions.

When talking about oral sex, I talk about the person giving oral sex, and the person receiving oral sex. But at times, people may misinterpret what giving and receiving oral sex means. That's why when I talk about the risks of oral sex, I mention specifically what body fluids a person is being exposed to. So rather than just saying insertive/receptive partner, I mention the body fluids a person is exposed to, so there is no confusion what these terms mean. As an example:

If you are GIVING someone oral sex, there is a risk of infection since pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and menstrual blood can get into your mouth. The more of these body fluids you are exposed to, the greater the risk of infection there would be. If you have any open sores, cuts, abrasions, or gum disease in the mouth, the virus can get into your bloodstream. The risk is less than vaginal or anal intercourse, but the risk is real, and transmission can occur. There have already been reported cases of HIV infection specifically through giving oral sex. In addition to HIV, while giving oral sex, you could also be at risk for other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) including herpes and gonorrhea.

If you are RECEIVING oral sex from someone else, you are only being exposed to saliva. The concentrations of the virus in saliva are so low, that nobody has ever been infected from saliva. Keep in mind however that you can get other sexually transmitted diseases (like herpes) by receiving oral sex. However, as far as HIV is concerned, receiving oral sex is extremely low risk.

In these descriptions, there is little doubt as to what giving and receiving means, since I explain what body fluids a person would be exposed to, when giving or receiving oral sex. This takes away a lot of the confusion. So as I see it, if you have your penis in a woman's mouth, she is the giving partner, and you are the receiving partner.

Also, if someone is giving you oral sex (you're only being exposed to saliva), you would not be at any significant risk for HIV. If the person had visible blood in their mouth, then yes, you would be at risk. But realistically, a person doesn't normally have blood in their mouth, so normally a person would not be at risk for HIV by receiving oral sex.

I hope this cleared up the confusion in terminology in regards to oral sex. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS

deep kissing
Oral Sex and HIV transmission

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