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Q&A: Will oral sex give me cancer?

Q&A: Will oral sex give me cancer? Advice at Sh! Women's Store

Dear Sh!

Thanks a lot for you existence and the opportunity to ask you questions!

I would be grateful to gather your thoughts on the following: I am not very experienced in sex and the past one year when trying to give blowjobs to my partner, I keep getting really painful mouth ulcers. I am scared about the statistics that oral sex increases oral cancer. We don't use condoms. He really loves it and I want to understand if I should do it less (I used to do it daily, being a fresh couple) or maybe with an easier technique to relax myself more often or are there any hygienic precautions I should be aware off? We are both very monogamous and he does take care of cleanliness.

Thanks a lot. Kind regards, X.

Hey X,

Thanks for getting in touch - this is a great question!

The delicious activity of oral sex itself won't increase your risk of cancer, but human papillomavirus (HPV) can. HPV is a common group of viruses. They do not cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer. So the first thing we’d recommend is that you and your partner get tested.

It’s not known how common HPV infection in the mouth is. A 2009-10 study concluded that the prevalence of oral HPV infection in American men was 10% and in women 3.6%. 

HPV has been linked to some types of oral cancer (although alcohol and smoking are bigger risk factors). However, around 25% of mouth and 35% of throat cancers are HPV-related. 

About 50-80% of adults have oral herpes. Most cases aren't major health concerns, but avoid having oral sex if you have a cold sore. Going down on your partner while you have an active sore can pass on the virus to them.

90% of people clear naturally clear HPV within 2 years. By 26 (years of age), most women will have been exposed to some strand of HPV, although they may still benefit from the HPV vaccine. It might be something to discuss with your doctor.

If you're both healthy there is no real reason why giving oral should cause mouth ulcers, unless you're biting or scraping the inside of your mouth.

Use condoms for safer oral sex

Using condoms or dental dams is the best way to protect from sexually transmitted infections. Rubber doesn't taste great, but flavoured condoms or flavoured lube can help with this.

bottles of flavoured lube

We hope that answers your question. If you’d like some tips on technique, our Mindblowing Blow Jobs course is fantastic!

Best Wishes,

Team Sh! xx

All names are changed for the purposes of anonymity.

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