Popular American actor, Micheal Douglas, once stirred up a controversy about oral sex when he said he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat because he engaged in oral sex quite frequently. Isn’t this odd? But experts agree with his physician’s diagnosis. According to them, it is not strange to think that oral sex may have been a contributing factor.
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They say that Douglas may have been infected with the Human Papilloma Virus, a cancerous and sexually transmitted virus while performing oral sex on his partner.
Yes, you can get throat cancer from oral sex, says American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer, Otis Brawley.
Brawley explains that it is not oral sex, per se, that causes cancer, but the HPV virus, which can be passed from person to person during sex, especially during oral sex, that causes the disease.
He says, “Those who have ever performed oral sex have more than doubled their risk of getting an HPV infection.”
Researchers have found that some cancers of the oropharynx (the middle of the throat) and tonsils are caused by a certain type of HPV.
The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 showed a greater risk for oropharyngeal cancer in people that had oral sex with at least six different partners.
They found out that the DNA signature of HPV type 16 was often found more often in the cancers of people who had multiple oral sex partners.
Brawley says,“ Both men and women can have an HPV infection in the throat. It doesn’t discriminate by gender. The population that I thought would be least likely to get it was the first population to have this problem, that is heterosexual men between ages 40 and 50,” he says.
When it comes to being responsible, by that we mean using condoms during sex, many will not take chances. But do they apply the same precaution during oral sex?
Reproductive health experts say that you can contact sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia from oral sex.
Before now, oral sex was usually considered a lower-risk sexual activity—but a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that it is actually becoming a popular method for spreading sexually transmitted infections.
The researchers state that since oral sex involves a partner stimulating the sexual organs of another person using the mouth, lips, tongue, teeth or throat, viral and bacterial infections such as herpes, HIV/AIDs can be contracted through such means .
Consultant gynaecologist , Dr. Seun Abejide, says the risk of contracting these diseases is higher in persons with multiple partners, same sex relationships and the level of intimacy of the oral sex.
He states, “Oral sex is when you stimulate your partner’s genitals with your mouth, lips, tongue and finger. This involves sucking the penis (fellatio), vagina or clitoris (cunnilingus) or anus (anilingus). These are openings in the body and means of infections.
“Many people don’t know that STDs can be spread orally. If they do, they don’t see the health risks as being very serious. Oral sex is not safe because most people don’t use protection for it when they should actually be cautious about it, especially if they are performing it on multiple partners.”
Abejide says performing oral sex on a male partner without a condom is more risky than other forms of oral sex. He stresses the importance of condom use for a man having oral sex with multiple male partners.
“If a male is giving oral sex to a woman, I consider that to be a low-risk exposure. But it is really dangerous for a woman to give oral sex to a man with multiple partners. You can’t tell if his partners are infected. It is just like sex with multiple partners but no penetration.” she adds.
One can get infected with HIV/AIDS through oral sex. A research conducted by the San Fransisco Aids Organisation found out that many women contracted HIV from oral sex by swallowing semen.
The study states, “HIV still can enter through open cuts and sores, or possibly by infecting the lining of the mouth. There are some documented cases of people getting HIV through their mouth.”
“Once semen gets past the mouth, stomach acid and enzymes in the esophagus kill the virus. So swallowing or spitting out semen reduces your risk for HIV, compared with letting it sit in your mouth.”
However, you don’t have to leave yourself and your spouse unprotected. To reduce your risk for these infections, experts recommend the use of barrier protection like dental clams or condoms and also offer some oral advice
.Brawley says, “Before you two taste each other’s forbidden fruit, make sure you’re clean. Don’t perform oral for about 45 minutes after you brush your teeth, floss, or engage in any other aggravating oral behaviour and not at all when you have open sores.”
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