Sex Q&A: How Safe Are Rim Jobs, Actually?

    We asked three experts for all the precautions you should take before mouth-to-butt contact happens.

    Welcome to the new BuzzFeed Sex Q&A where you can ask us your awkward, confusing, gross, embarrassing, or thought-provoking questions, and we'll provide answers from leading sexual health experts. Have a question about sex or sexual health? Send it to

    This week’s question:

    Q: I have a partner who is infinitely giving in the sack. He rocks my socks off. He's always so busy doing things to/for me that I get too distracted to do much for him. I would love to change this.

    One thing he's mentioned once or twice is that he'd like a rim job. In theory I would love to do this if it would give him as much pleasure as he has given me, but I have a few hesitations. Namely, if it is safe/healthy to do this without a barrier.

    We are monogamous and I'm on the Pill so we don't otherwise use condoms or dental dams for any bedroom activities.

    My googling turns up many different answers from sexperts and normal people, and I don't know how to separate the information wheat from the chaff. The more cautious sources indicate that one should use a dental dam (with some lube on the receiver's side of the dam). Many other sources act like this is an unnecessarily uptight precaution and having a basically clean body is good enough.

    I'm not able to discern if the idea of using a dental dam in this scenario is like the recommendation to use a dental dam for cunnilingus or a condom for fellatio, i.e., if it's what "they" should say to give you safer sex information, but in reality many monogamous couples who have been tested for STIs are unlikely to use these and they will (usually) be OK.

    In a nutshell, my question is this: Is it reasonably safe to perform unprotected analingus on someone (with whom you are monogamous) who is not experiencing intestinal distress and has showered that day? Or is there always a greater risk for some kind of illness from gastrointestinal bacteria and one should always use a barrier?


    Would Like to Please

    Hi, Would Like to Please! Thanks so much for your question. To help answer it, we checked in with a few experts from various fields, including: New York City sex therapist Dr. Stephen Snyder, proctologist Dr. David Rosenfeld, and Dr. Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, who specializes in the research of health risk behaviors and STDs. Here's what they had to say:

    Actually, analingus (or rim jobs, rimming, oral anal, tossing salad... whichever term you’d prefer) is reasonably safe to perform without a barrier method — at least in your VERY specific circumstances.

    STIs can definitely be transmitted via rim jobs, so make sure you’ve both been tested recently.

    OK, so there’s obviously bacteria down there — but it's maybe not as bad as you think.

    BUT if there’s any chance your partner might be sick or experiencing any gastrointestinal distress, skip it.

    Also, you probably want to talk about his poop habits before you go down there without a barrier.

    He should be really, really clean down there. Like, really clean.

    But no matter what, only do what you’re comfortable with.

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