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Can Oral Sex Cause Cancer?

by Monica Ma |

When it comes to safe sex, most people mainly think about using a condom. Added to that, when the majority of men and women think about safe sex, they solely think about sex in the context of a penetrative vaginal or anal act. However, the truth is that no matter what kind of sex you’re engaged in, it’s always important to keep it safe and use a barrier. This is especially the case with oral sex due to a number of viruses known as HPV that easily spread through skin contact or by sharing sex toys.


condom oral sex
Source: Pinterest 


Below, we’ll briefly explain why it’s important to keep things safe no matter what type of sex you’re having.


What is HPV?

HPV, short for Human Papillomavirus, is a group of approximately 100 viruses, 40 of which can affect your genital area. Although most HPV are innocuous and do not bring along any negative effects or symptoms, there are several that can, in fact, be dangerous. Especially HPV-6, 11, 16, and 18 are considered to be dangerous as these can cause genital warts and, in some cases, even cancer of the penis and cervix.

Although most of us may have never heard about HPV before, it is, in fact, one of the most common STI. The truth is that nearly 75% of all adult women are likely to have a strain of HPV at some point during their life. Luckily, in most cases, an HPV virus will pass by itself, leaving you without any negative side-effects. Therefore, you won’t directly have to worry when you get a positive HPV screening. It is important to keep in mind, however, that once you pass the age of 30, HPV is more likely to develop into cervical cancer. As of such, it’s a good idea to get a regular check-up for HPV once you grow older. Although the viruses are easy to spot at a woman, there is currently no known nor approved HPV screening method for men.

It is important to know that HPV can pass from skin contact. As of such, it can pass even from simple foreplay such as fingering but also through oral sex and penetrative sex. Although condoms offer the safest way to have sex, they won’t protect you fully from HPV. Nevertheless, we always recommend you to use a condom correctly!


How is HPV Linked to Cancer?

In the US alone, there has been a stunning four-to-five-fold increase in oropharynx cancer over the past decade. The oropharynx is the area in the back of your throat where the beginning of your tongue is located. Of over 60% of all the oropharynx cancer cases diagnosed throughout the year, HPV-16 is the main cause. And as you might have guessed already by now, this is one of the viruses that can easily spread via your genitals when having oral sex. In fact, one of the main reasons for this staggering increase in oropharynx cancer is believed to be the fact that people have more sex partners noways and are more open towards oral sex. In general, 3 times as many men suffer from HPV of the throat compared to women. Besides oral sex, there is a link to smoking as well.


what is HPV

Source: Cancer Research UK


It is important to note, however, that just because you have an HPV in your throat, it does not necessarily mean that you’ll get cancer. In fact, over 12,000 people in the US alone are diagnosed with HPV in the throat every single year. Nevertheless, it’s still important to reduce your risk of spreading HPV by using the right kind of protection for oral sex.


How to Have Safe Oral Sex

The main problem when it comes to oral sex and HPV is that you can develop symptoms of HPV even years after being exposed. In some cases, you may not experience any symptoms at all. As a result, it’s very difficult to be diagnosed and even more difficult to pinpoint from whom you got it.

Just as with any STIs, using protection is the best way to stay safe. When it comes to oral sex and HPV, the best form of protection is to use a condom or dental dams. These methods offer the best protection not only to HPV but also to other STIs a well.


DIY Dental Dam
Source: Healthline


Although everybody knows the condom, dental dams are still relatively unknown among most adults. A dental dam is a thin sheet of rubber that you can find in almost any sex store. If, however, you don’t have any dental dams at home but still wish to perform safe oral sex, you can simply cut the top off a condom and cut it lengthwise and you’ll have your own improvised dental dam. Then, simply apply lube around your partner’s vulva, teasingly place your dental dam on top, and you’re all set to have safe and exciting oral sex.


Final Words on HPV and Oral Sex

To some people, having an extra barrier such as a condom or dental dam is a real turn-off when it comes to oral sex. Here at Luvkis, however, we believe that having risk-free sex is possibly the biggest turn on there is. Just keep in mind that, when it comes to HPV, not a single method is 100% safe. Nevertheless, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, use a condom or a dental dam and get yourself regularly tested for HPV, especially if you like to switch your bed partner frequently.

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