According to the CDC, one in four college students carry an STD/STI. STDs and STIs are spread through genital contact, both vaginal and oral. And despite widespread knowledge of how STDs/STIs are spread, a study published in PubMed shows that only 17% of young people have used a condom during oral sex, with only 2% of those people reporting consistent use. In contrast, a whopping 93% of sexually active women have used a male condom before. Why is this?
Using a condom during oral sex serves on main purpose – to prevent the spread of disease or infection. However, it is difficult to know whether or not you have a sexually transmitted disease or infection. Several of these infections or diseases do not show symptoms for days, months, or even years. For example, up to 90% of people infected with the herpes virus do not show any symptoms. However, the herpes virus infects 50-80% of adults in the United States. Without getting tested, it is often impossible to know whether or not a person carries an STD/STI.
Additionally, there is seems to be a level of trust among people, that the odds them having an STD/STI is low, and that it would not happen to them. But the statistics seem to tell a different story, with 25% of college students carrying an STD or STI.
On the other hand, condom use is widely practiced with intercourse. The distinction between oral sex and vaginal sex is that vaginal sex could result in a pregnancy. Every single time a person has sex with another, there is a good chance of a pregnancy resulting, while a STD or STI is only transmitted if one or both persons are infected.
Also, stories of unplanned pregnancies are widely publicized, with shows such as Teen Mom dedicated to them. TV has yet to come up with a show called Life with Herpes, or Surviving Chlamydia.
The risks of contracting a STD/STI is very real. As numbers of the infected increase, there needs to be an increase in awareness and education on disease spread, to the point where safety is something that is widely and regularly practiced, for both vaginal sex and oral sex.