Is it safe to give oral sex to someone on antibiotics?
January 27, 2006 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Is it safe to perform oral sex on someone who is taking antibiotics (NOT for an STI)?

I am currently taking antibiotics (Augmentin = 875mg amoxicillin +125mg clavulanic acid) for a sinus infection. Reading the literature, I noticed that it is not recommended for nursing mothers (unless deemed absolutely medically necessary) because of the presence of antibiotics in the milk.

I was wondering about the amount of antibiotic present in semen and whether it could/would have ill effects on a woman performing oral sex or having vaginal sex.

More specific questions are: how much of the antibiotic would be present in semen? Obviously, only small amounts of semen are generally released. Given that taking small quantities (or an incomplete course) of an antibiotic increase the likelihood of resistant strains of bacteria, is there a risk associated with this quantity of antibiotics? In vaginal intercourse, is there a risk of killing off natural bacteria, increasing the chances of a yeast infection? Are there other risks/considerations?

I am not a biologist, but I do have a reasonaby strong general scientific background, so links to the literature would be particularly appreciated. Informed speculation is also welcome.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
I'm not a doctor, but I am an informed speculator.

I've never heard of this being a problem.
posted by Caviar at 8:57 PM on January 27, 2006

i wouldn't worry about it.
posted by brandz at 9:04 PM on January 27, 2006

I think a baby's body is probably more sensitive to things like antibiotics than your girlfriend. Also, a baby will (hopefully!) be consuming far more breastmilk than your girlfriend will be consuming semen. Thirdly, from my understand at least, the content of breastmilk can vary fairly widely by what the mother consumes; being a simpler substance, I wouldn't be surprised if the antibiotics don't even show up in semen. That last one is pure conjecture, though.
posted by luftmensch at 9:12 PM on January 27, 2006

The actual effects of the antibiotic to the other would be tiny, but an allergy may be triggered, as mentioned in this abstract.
posted by scodger at 9:18 PM on January 27, 2006

what luftmensch said, not to mention that aside from a baby consuming far more liquid in volume, they are also physically much, much tinier than your girlfriend, so that amount is compounded further.
posted by gatorae at 10:13 PM on January 27, 2006

If you're both adults, and the antibiotics at full strength aren't hurting you, I'm not sure why orders of magnitude less of the same stuff for another adult could conceivably be a problem (other than for reducing the long-term effectiveness of the antibiotic itself).

Is it an injection that is not to be taken orally or something?

I once had drugs where my doctor cautioned me about this, but that was 1. A drug highly highly very bad for women, due to hormonal effects, and 2. there was no evidence it might be a problem, my doctor was simply going from (1) and taking the better safe than sorry approach.

For antibiotics, I can't see there being a problem, but obviously IANAD
posted by -harlequin- at 10:16 PM on January 27, 2006

My new goal in life is to be an informed speculator.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:48 AM on January 28, 2006

I'd put this question on a par with: "Is it safe for a vegan to give oral sex to someone who ate a bacon sandwich this morning?"
posted by wackybrit at 5:07 AM on January 28, 2006

I have a feeling luftmensch is dead-on. Mother's milk is meant for transferring nutrients and passing on resistance to disease so is most likely a very natural carrier for something like antibiotics. Semen has a completely different job and the cells in it are all highly specialized for makin' da babies. Don't see why the body would pass anything else along with it.

But I'm just speculating.
posted by melt away at 6:19 AM on January 28, 2006

Why worry? Just wait until you're done with the course of antibiotics.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2006

I am fantacizing about what kind of icon a warning lable would have.

I looked for information on this semi-seriously (I'm a medical librarian) and did not find anything more than what scoder did, but it is an interesting research question.

I might dismiss your concerns had a Canadian teenager not died after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich. The kiss came almost 24 hours after the sandwich, and the boy has brushed his teeth.

If I were your partner, however, I'd probably be more concerned about whatever virus gave you that sinus infection.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:03 AM on January 28, 2006

gesamtkunstwerk: You're a medical librarian, and you don't know that you would never take antibiotics to fight a viral infection.
posted by Netzapper at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2006

unless you're a bukkake star, I wouldn't worry about side effects from your torrent of love. but antibiotics can interfere with the Pill / Nuva Ring action, so just to be safe ask her not to swallow until you're on antibiotics, and you'll all be happy
posted by matteo at 1:38 PM on January 28, 2006

Netzapper. I don't want to turn this into a pissing contest, but sinus infections generally occur after you have had a virus. It's rare to catch a sinus infection, your sinuses get infected after they have been plugged by something else, and bacteria collect. At least that is how I get sinus infections.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2006

"not to swallow _as long as_ you're on antibiotics"

not "until". sorry.
posted by matteo at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2006

My doctor told me not to engage in sexual activity while I was on antibiotics (for tonsilitis). While I ignored that advice, and everything was fine, you've been warned.
posted by klangklangston at 3:12 PM on January 28, 2006

The antibiotics could be dangerous if your SO is allergic. Other than that... I think you're ok to go.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:28 PM on January 28, 2006

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