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I normally masturbate by licking my hand and using the saliva as a lube, because I'm circumcised and the thrusting motion I actually don't like—it can tear my penis skin since it's too tense.

Is using saliva safe, or does it contain bacteria that could cause me something? Obviously I can't contract a disease I didn't have, but maybe bacteria in the mouth should not reach the penis?

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Saliva is safe to apply to the sexual organs. While it is true that the mouth contains lots of micro-organisms, the same varieties are also commonly thrive elsewhere in the body, and are all harmless against a normally functioning immune system. Saliva also contains antibacterials, has skin-like acidity, and acts as a pH buffer.

The only concern is that it may also contain anything that has recently been in your mouth. For example, using saliva as a sexual lubricant may be risky if you—

  • have a topical infection around your mouth or lips, or have recently licked a location of such an infection,

  • have recently eaten a food that can irritate sensitive skin or mucous membranes (e.g. vinegar, salt, or anything abrasive), or

  • have recently kissed or had oral sex with anyone who might have a sexually transmissible illness.

In cases that you're unsure, other water-based lubricants sold in supermarkets and pharmacies are a safe alternative.

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