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The ugly side of Oral Sex

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Sometimes, out of the huge excitement that characterises sex or the zeal to explore their sexuality, people go beyond the normal sexual intercourse or foreplay and they try out other things that could make the experience a great one.

One of such things people do for a supposed better sexual experience is to practise oral sex, which involves using the mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate the penis (an act known as fellatio); the testicles; the vagina (an act known as cunnilingus); clitoris; the genital area or even the anus (anilingus). It is also known as blow job.

To some, especially people who don’t do it, it is particularly disgusting, as they would readily remember that these sex organs are also used for discharging certain wastes (urine or menstrual wastes) out of the body. But those who do it claim that it is exciting, sexually satisfying and that it rules out the possibility of unwanted pregnancy.

Even though a part of the society sees it as a (wrong) deviation from the norm, coupled with the fact that some medical experts, religious leaders, preachers and even moralists advise against it, oral sex is one sexual activity that has yet to abate. And the rate in recent times could be shocking.

According to a report posted on WebMD, a website that provides valuable health information, national statistics by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, under the United States Department of Health and Human Services, shows that almost half of American teenagers and almost 90 per cent of adults aged between 25 and 44 have had oral sex with someone of the opposite sex.

While Nigeria does not seem to have a concrete data on this, another report by the National Survey on Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in the United Kingdom shows a rather disturbing result, as posted on Net Doctor.

It was found that 71 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds, 80 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds, 78 per cent of 35 to 44 year olds, 67 per cent of 45 to 54 year olds, 52 per cent of males and 35 per cent of females aged 55 to 64, 35 per cent of females aged 55 to 64, 30 per cent of males aged 65-plus and 19 per cent of females aged 65-plus have engaged in oral sex.

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This implies that more people, than imagined, seem to embrace this act. But regardless of the motivation, whether curiosity or the interest in trying new things, reports have shown that oral sex has its dangers. And these include:

Neck or throat cancer: While people who do it claim to derive pleasure from it, scientists have found that it is possible to have throat cancer from oral sex. The Medical Officer of American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, explained that even though oral sex, per se, does not cause the cancer, a widespread virus, the Human Papillomavirus, could be passed from one person to another during sex, especially oral sex. It was also gathered that the person who gives the blow job could have the cancer at the centre of the throat or neck. He said studies had shown that if the person being ‘sucked’ has the virus in his or her system, the person doing the sucking stands a chance of getting the virus, especially people who have multiple oral sex partners. Brawley told WebMD that Type 16 of HPV is more likely to be found in the cancers of people who had multiple oral sex partners. He added, “It’s still unclear how many people get HPV throat infections by oral sex, or how many of them get oropharyngeal cancer. Both men and women can have an HPV infection in the throat; it doesn’t discriminate by gender.”

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: One can be tempted to think that since there would be no vaginal penetration, as it were, then there is no risk of sexually transmitted diseases during oral sex. But that is not true. Scientists have found that sexually transmitted diseases, like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, herpes and viral hepatitis can also be passed from one person to another through oral sex. An American scientist, Terri Warren, who has a clinic that specialises in STDs, told WebMD that oral sex is not safe sex but that it is safer than the vaginal and anal sex. She explained that one way to escape sexually transmitted infections during oral sex is for couples to make use of barrier. She said the man could wear a condom or they could cut a condom open to make a sheet and spread it over the vagina or the anus, depending on where the man want to focus on. She added that the normal counsel of keeping to one sexual partner also has a role to play in oral sex, because having multiple (oral) sexual partners could increase the risk of having an infection. She said, “Most people don’t use protection for oral sex. That’s common wisdom, and it’s also shown by large-scale surveys of sexually active teens and adults. That’s probably because many people don’t know that STDs can be spread orally. Or if they do, they don’t see the health risks as being very serious.”

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Meanwhile, according to Colgate, there are some symptoms that could indicate an oral STD, and the symptom depends largely on the kind of infection a person has contacted. However, these symptoms include sores in the mouth, lesions around the mouth, red, painful throat and difficulty in swallowing, whitish or yellowish discharge, tonsillitis, which is the inflammation of either of two (one on each side of the tongue) small masses of lymphoid tissue in the throat.

Also, according to the CDC, the areas of infection due to oral sex include throat, genitals, urinary tract and rectum. It added that the initial signs and symptoms of infection include discharge from vagina or penis, burning feeling when urinating, painful or swollen testicles and rectal pain or discharge.

The CDC emphasised that risk of infection from Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, include, Chlamydia in the throat if a person gives oral sex to someone with an infected penis, an infected vagina, urinary tract infection or an infected rectum; Chlamydia of the penis if a person gets oral sex on the penis from a partner with Chlamydia in the throat; Chlamydia of the vagina or urinary tract if a woman gets oral sex on the vagina from a partner with Chlamydia in the throat; and Chlamydia in the rectum if a person gets oral sex on the anus from a partner with Chlamydia in the throat.

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Risk of HIV infection: Just as any form of sex, oral sex can also be a medium for Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said even though oral sex has a lower risk of transmitting HIV than vaginal or anal, the most risky oral sex is the mouth-to-penis type.  It added that other factors that could increase the risk of transmission include sores in the mouth of the person that want to suck, sores around the vagina or on the penis, bleeding gums, oral contact with menstrual blood and the presence of other STDs. However, CDC advised that people could reduce the risk of HIV transmission if they ensure that the man does not ejaculate in their mouth; by removing mouth from the penis before ejaculation or by using a condom or dental dam.

Also speaking on the adverse effects of engaging in oral sex, a medical doctor, Rotimi Adesanya, said even though oral sex increases libido, there are medical implications associated with it. He explained that there are many viral infections one could get from oral sex.

He said, “Oral sex is one of the high risk activities for many sexually transmitted diseases, especially the viral ones, like herpes genitalis and HIV. Herpes is a viral infection and we have two types; Type 1, which is oral and Type 2, which has to do with the genitals.

“The person using the mouth has high risk of Type 1 and could have sores in the mouth, while the person getting the oral sex has high risk of Type 2 and it affects the private part.”

Adesanya explained that even though saliva is self cleansing, people who engage in oral sex are advised to wash their mouth prior to the act. This, he said, would reduce the amount of germs in their mouth and reduce the risk of infection. “It’s just a precaution and not 100 per cent guarantee, and for people having wounds in their mouth or private part, if such persons have oral sex, it is like an accident waiting to happen,” he added.


…Culled from The PUNCH

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