Unprotected Oral Sex

Unprotected oral sex can increase the risk of getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can lead to oral cancer. It has long being associated with genital warts and cervical cancer but now scientists have found a strong link with oral cancer – specifically cancers of the mouth and throat. It is thought that these cancers could replace cervical cancer as the most common cancer caused by the HPV. Although most oral cancer is caused by tobacco use and / or alcohol, HPV is thought to be a major cause.

Unprotected-Oral-SexStudies have shown a relationship between oral sex and HPV positive throat cancers, particularly in those individuals who perform oral sex on men. Unprotected oral sex therefore is not safer sex. Various other sexually transmitted diseases can be spread by oral sex including herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Safer sex techniques should therefore be used for oral sex (such as a condom on men or a rubber barrier on woman) as well as vaginal and anal sex. This is particularly true for individuals with genital herpes or HIV infections, since both viruses have been shown to predispose people to acquiring HPV.

In Summary: 

  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) seems to play a role in the development of a significant number of cancers of the mouth and throat.
  • Oral sex increases your risk of acquiring an HPV infection in your mouth or throat.
  • Although study results are mixed, it seems possible that smoking and alcohol use may interact with HPV infection to increase a person’s risk of cancer.

Last updated: March 19, 2014

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