oral_sex_inside3.jpgNew research shows that oral cancer (cancer of the mouth) is now more commonly attributed to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection —the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women--rather than tobacco use.

Maura Gillison of Ohio State University has been researching HPV for the last 15 years. She says that recent research has shown a whopping 225 percent increase in incidence of oral cancer among white men from the period 1974 to 2007. And the factor that is causing the rise in HPV infection is the number of partners one has had oral sex with.

"When the number of partners increases, the risk increases," said Gillison. “Those who have had six or more oral sex partners are eight times more at risk for risk of acquiring HPV-related head or neck cancer than those with fewer than six partners,” she said.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there are 150 different types of HPV. About 40 types of HPV are sexually transmitted and can cause genital warts; other more high-risk HPV varieties can cause oral, anal, vaginal, and penile cancers.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the two existing HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) could prevent 90 percent of genital warts in men, as well as anal cancer in men and women.

NO CLEAR LINK FOR MEN

Unlike cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV, much still needs to be done to establish causes of oral cancer. "We can't demonstrate definitively that certain behaviors are associated with risk of acquiring an infection. The cervical cancer field is 20 years ahead," Gillison said.

Not many people are aware about common causes of HPV and that it can actually be transmitted through oral sex contributes to this problem.

Bonnie Halpern-Felsher of the University of California, who specializes in teenagers' attitudes and sexual behaviors, says that teens are at a high risk because of this lack of awareness. "Teens really have no idea that oral sex is related to any outcome like STIs (sexually transmitted infections), HPV, chlamydia, and so on."


[Click here for tips on how you and your man can protect yourselves]


(Photo by Aconite Stock via DeviantArt)


oral_sex_inside2.jpgSAFER SEX FOR THE MOUTH: HOW YOU AND YOUR PARTNER CAN PROTECT YOURSELVES

Compared to other forms of sexual contact, oral sex has a lower rate of infection—but it is still not 100 percent safe. Here’s how you can protect yourself during oral sex.

1. Use a condom for oral sex. Not many people know that you should also use condoms for oral sex or, worse, even that you can get an STI from performing it. If that seems awkward to you, try using flavored condoms to make it, well, a more tasteful experience.
 
a. Use a condom for fellatio or dental dam for cunnilingus. As dental dams are not readily available in the Philippines, improvise by making dental dam out of a condom. Cut the top and bottom off the condom, leaving the middle section intact (it’ll look like a tube). Cut up one side of the tube and you have a dental dam.
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b. For analingus (oral-anal contact) you can also use a dental dam. Especially with this form of oral sex, you need to be extra careful about cleanliness, so gentle cleaning before engaging in sexual activities is recommended. The key is to be very gentle so as to prevent micro tears in the skin.

2. Change condoms when you shift from one type of sex to another. If you perform oral sex first, get out a fresh condom before proceeding to vaginal sex. This will reduce the risk of tears and rips and the possibility of transferring bacteria from one body part to another.


3. Avoid oral and penetrative contact with partners who have obvious skin breaks in their mouth or genital area. Viruses carried through bodily fluids easily penetrate open wounds, furthering your risk for infection.
 

4. Avoiding ejaculation into their partners' mouth can also help reduce risk.


5. Be gentle on your mouth. Don’t floss or brush your teeth before performing oral sex. This can cause tiny crevices in your mouth to open. Also, avoid deep or aggressive thrusting into the mouth and you avoid similar tears in the soft tissues of the throat.

Read these articles for more safe sex tips:
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(Photo by Rafael Sato via Flickr Creative Commons)


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