Oral STDs – The Ultimate Guide
The list that nobody wants to see, but one day might appear in your mouth. That is the list of STDs that show symptoms in the mouth.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes are the most common STDs that will show symptoms in your mouth. Less common, but also possible, are HIV/AIDS, and HPV.
So, let’s waste no time, we’ll get straight into it.
Please note: Information found within this post has been sourced and referenced by professionals and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. We do not know your individual circumstance and therefore it is advisable and recommended to seek direct advice and consultation with either your dentist or your general practitioner.
STDs In the Throat
The below list of STDs all can affect your throat in different ways.
Some are much more common in certain age groups and others fairly rare, generally.
Chlamydia is common among those aged 15 – 29.
It can be passed through oral, anal, or vaginal sex (the latter two more likely).
Chlamydia often does not show any symptoms, but when they do flare, will include a sore throat.
Gonorrhea is common throughout those aged between 15 – 34.
It too can be transmitted through oral sex but is more likely to be passed through anal or vaginal sex.
Gonorrhea of the throat often does not show any warning signs.
However, symptoms do appear typically a week after having been exposed to the STD and can include a sore throat.
Syphilis is not as common as other STDs, but those who do get it are generally young – 15 to 29.
Syphilis will affect the mouth, lips, and throat.
Symptoms include an immediate outbreak of sores in or around the mouth and throat.
After this, your lymph nodes will swell.
HSV-2 (Genital Herpes) & Herpes Esophagitis
Genital herpes is considered a common STD, with roughly 1 in 8 Australians aged 25 or more having the virus.
It can be caused by both strains of the herpes simplex virus, of which there is currently no cure for, but treatment can be used to control symptoms.
HSV-1 usually causes cold sores, but you can catch genital herpes from having oral sex with someone who has HSV-1.
In contrast, HSV-2 usually only causes genital herpes. This is spread through vaginal or genital sex.
However, although rare, HSV-2 can be spread through oral sex and cause herpes esophagitis.
Symptoms of this include:
- Open wounds in your mouth
- Trouble swallowing.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV used to be common amongst those aged 18 to 28.
However, in 2007 Australia launched a vaccination strategy, and they scarcely occur to young people now.
Though, those who do have the virus can spread it through both oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
HPV affects your mouth and throat. Symptoms include:
- Warts in the throat
- Changes to your voice
- Some trouble with speaking
- Difficulty breathing
HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS.
It is currently impacting a very young age group – 13 to 19.
It is most often transmitted through vaginal and anal sex.
A lifelong disease, many people do not see the symptoms for years after becoming infected.
If you have HIV/AIDS, common oral problems you will undergo are:
- Oral warts
- Cold sores
- Hairy leukoplakia (the black hairy tongue)
- Oral thrush
- Mouth ulcers
It may also give you a dry mouth, which can cause:
- Trouble eating and speaking
If you have HIV/AIDS, the changes your mouth undergoes may be a reflection of the level of your immunity.
How to Know if You Have Contracted an Oral STD?
Symptoms will depend on the type of STD you have come down with.
For example, oral gonorrhea is also called pharyngeal gonorrhea, as it generally tends to impact your pharynx.
But symptoms that may be a warning sign that you have an oral STD include:
- Sores inside your mouth (these may be pain-free)
- Lesions similar to cold sores on or around your mouth
- A red, sore throat. Or a slightly red throat with white spots, that bears a resemblance to strep throat
- Trouble swallowing
- A whitish or yellow excretion from your throat.
But, keep in mind that often, an oral STD will not generate any noticeable symptoms.
So, it’s important to be aware of your own oral and sexual health, and that of your sexual partners, as best as possible.
Do Any Oral STD’s Clear on Their Own?
This is a very common question.
Unfortunately – the answer is, not usually. It’s highly unlikely the STD will clear by itself.
If you put off seeking treatment, you are also risking the infection causing further long-term problems.
You may also be unknowingly passing the infection on to sexual partners, even if you do not have any symptoms.
So, if you think you have an oral STD, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider and get checked out.
Natural Remedies for STD’s, and Do They Work?
After you have tested positive for an STD, you can receive the necessary treatment.
For a curable STD, you will probably be prescribed antibiotics or another medication, which will treat the infection.
If the STD is incurable, you may still be able to receive treatment to reduce your symptoms and help stop the spread of the disease to your sexual partners.
Having said that, you can still try natural remedies while undergoing professional medical treatment.
Natural remedies can be effective at reducing some of the symptoms of the STD and using these alongside conventional medicines can ensure the best results.
The natural remedies that you can try include the following.
Vitamin A, C, E and Zinc
These nutrients are important to keep your immune system functioning and can provide resistance to infection.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties, but it is also highly acidic.
This is best taken orally – applying it topically can irritate your genitals.
A study was done in 2016 to show what effect the mouthwash Listerine had on the bacteria in the mouths of people with gonorrhea.
Men with oral gonorrhea were asked to use either Listerine or a saline placebo for 1 minute each day.
Research showed that:
- 52% who used Listerine were culture-positive, and
- 84% who used the placebo were positive.
So, the researcher’s concluded that Listerine might be able to treat (but not cure) oral gonorrhea.
Garlic is anti-bacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal, and has proven to be effective against many infections.
There are few downfalls to adding garlic to your diet.
Licorice has antiviral properties and been used to treat herpes with a successful result.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has high levels of antibacterial and antifungal properties.
To try this, dilute a few drops in water, before applying to affected regions.
It is possible that it may irritate your skin. Ask your healthcare provider if this worries you.
Lemon balm has antiviral activity. Studies have shown that it effectively reduces the frequency and seriousness of genital herpes.
This can be applied in the form of a topical cream, or taken internally.
There is an enzyme (glucose oxidase) in honey, that helps to kill bacteria.
The probiotics in yoghurt are beneficial to your health.
They contain particularly good bacteria that can assist in keeping your gut flora at a balanced level.
If you are taking antibiotics to treat your STD, that antibiotic is killing your good bacteria as well as the infected bacteria.
That can cause you to have diarrhea.
Eating yoghurt may help your body sustain a number of good bacteria, reducing your chance of getting diarrhea.
If the STD is making your skin itchy or irritated, pure aloe vera gel may help to soothe this.
Aloe is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Pure aloe vera gel moisturises and stimulates wounds, helping them heal.
Some studies have shown that aloe can help herpes lesions to heal faster.
If using this in your genital area, just be sure that it is pure aloe (read the label and ensure it has no additives).
Again, it is important to note that, while these natural remedies may help you cope with the symptoms of an STD, or the side-effects of treatment, they WILL NOT cure or treat the STD.
The only way you can possibly cure or treat an STD is with prescription medication from your healthcare provider.
How to Get Rid of Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is not actually an STD – it’s an infection of the mouth, caused by the yeast fungus “candida”.
It is common – over half of the population will have candida in their mouth without having any of the negative side-effects.
Candida can cause issues when the chemicals inside your mouth change.
This eliminates all the good bacteria, allowing the bad yeast to thrive.
Oral thrush is common in the people who:
- Have diabetes
- Have severe medical conditions (i.e. cancer or untreated HIV)
- Are taking antibiotics (especially for extended lengths of time)
- Take a lot of drugs
- Eat an unhealthy diet
- Wear dentures (particularly incorrectly-fitted dentures)
- Have asthma, and so must inhale corticosteroids
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
- Raised white patches on your mouth, tongue, cheeks, gums, the roof of your mouth, and tonsils, that look like cottage cheese and can be wiped off, leaving behind red, bleeding areas.
- A painful, burning sensation in the mouth.
- Mouth bleeding.
- A displeasing taste.
- Lack of taste.
- A feeling as if your mouth is full of cotton.
- Mouth and throat redness.
- Splits at the edges of your mouth.
- Not being able to eat or drink correctly.
You may not get all of these symptoms – the thrush ranges in its severity.
You might need an antifungal medication or lozenge to treat thrush – this will get rid of the infection.
You can simply speak to your pharmacist about what your best treatment option is.
But if the thrush is severe or comes back after you treat it, or you have a weak immune system, then I recommend speaking to your Doctor.
It’s also important you have a good oral hygiene regime.
Looking after your mouth will help get rid of, and prevent oral thrush from reoccurring.
So, make sure to:
- Brush your teeth after every meal, using fluoride toothpaste (this will help decrease the bacteria that has built-up in your mouth).
- Use a soft toothbrush if your mouth is sore.
- If you wear dentures, make sure to clean them properly, as well as the skin underneath them.
- If you use inhaled corticosteroids, wash out your mouth with water thoroughly every time you inhale.
- Drink plenty of water, unless you have a health condition and this is not possible.
- If you smoke, try to quit or cut down. Smoking can worsen the symptoms.
“Over-the-Counter” Chemist Treatments for Oral STD’s
The only person who is capable of determining the correct treatment for an STD is a healthcare provider.
Prescription medication is generally required, but just which one you need depends on what infection you have.
For example, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. Whereas herpes can be treated (but not cured) with an antiviral medication.
Though, there are cases where, just like natural remedies, over-the-counter options may help to:
- Relieve your symptoms
- Encourage healing
- Prevent recurrence
An over-the-counter antiviral cream that is commonly used for cold sores can be used to treat herpes.
These can help to lessen the length of an outbreak.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for an antiviral cream for your genitals.
Oral painkillers, such as Nurofen (ibuprofen), can also help lessen your discomfort during a herpes outbreak.
Oral STD’s can be common and cause some nasty symptoms and conditions.
Sex has and probably always will be a carefree and impulsive experience, but that does not mean it has to be unsafe.
Practicing safe sex with your partner is always recommended and encouraged.
We are certainly not trying to spoil the mood by giving you a stern STD talk.
We simply want to remind you that using a little common sense can save you from getting many oral problems that can potentially occur when an STD is contracted.
Finally, always see your doctor if any symptoms should occur.
By Andrew Adams
Created at November 18, 2020, Updated at September 28, 2021