How Much Do You Really Know About Oral HPV? 8 Things to Know Before Oral Sex

How Much Do You Really Know About Oral HPV? 8 Things to Know Before Oral Sex

Oral sex is safe and gives more pleasure compared to vaginal sex. But if you engage in oral sex without protection a lot of the times, you can be at risk of getting STDs. Oral HPV is one of the most common STDs you can contract from oral sex. Oral HPV is dangerous and can progress into oral cancer if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about oral HPV, and things to consider carefully before oral sex.

What is oral HPV?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common STD in the United States. It has many different strains, and most of them are harmless, causing no health problems. But some HPV types can affect the genital and mouth, leading to warts and cancers. HPV is contagious and can spread by skin-to-skin contact. If you engage in oral sex, you may develop HPV in the mouth or throat. This is called oral HPV.

In many cases, oral HPV doesn’t cause any symptoms. That’s why most people will never know they have the virus and transmit it to others during sexual activity. In some cases, you may develop warts in the throat and mouth, but this is not common.

In rare cases, oral HPV can lead to oropharyngeal cancer. This type of cancer usually occurs in the tongue, tonsil, gums, or lining of the mouth. Common symptoms include:

  • Lumps on the lip, mouth, neck, throat or cheek
  • Sore or ulcer on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Constant earaches
  • Pain or bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic bad breath

If you experience the above symptoms, talk to your doctor.

What is oral HPV

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How common is it?

HPV is so common. In the US, 79 million people are infected with HPV, and most of them are in their late teens and early 20s. About 14 million Americans are newly diagnosed each year.

Oral HPV affects 7% of Americans and is more common in men than in women. This is because men tend to have higher numbers of sexual partners than women. And compared with women, men may need longer time to produce antibodies against HPV and clear it from the body. This can help explain why HPV is more likely to turn into oral cancer in men than in women. Another reason is that men perform oral sex more often than women. This can put them at higher risks for oral HPV and other STDs.

What are risk factors for oral HPV?

Oral HPV is most commonly caused by HPV type 16. This is a high-risk HPV type. If you’re infected with HPV 16, you will develop oropharyngeal cancer. Although this cancer is rare, 1% of all people are affected. In the US, 15, 000 million people are diagnosed with the cancer each year.

Some lifestyle factors and sexual behaviours can increase your risks of getting oral HPV. These include:

  • Being male
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Using tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Having a compromised immune system
  • Kissing with an open mouth (open mouth kissing)
  • Giving unprotected oral sex
  • Being exposed to the pre-cum before an ejaculation
  • Having poor oral health
  • Having bumps or sores on the mouth or genitals
  • Having had another STD such as HIV, herpes, or chlamydia

If you think you are at risks for oral HPV, ask your doctor for testing.

risk factors for oral HPV

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Which diseases can be passed on through oral sex?

Oral sex means using the mouth and tongue to stimulate the genitals during sex. It sounds great but can put you at risk of certain STDs, such as:

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of infection. If detected early, however, these STDs can be treated easily. Without treatment, they can lead to pain or discomfort and affect fertility. So if you think you have an STD, or you have had unprotected sex, talk to your doctor right away.

diseases can be passed on through oral sex

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Can the HPV vaccine prevent oral HPV?

Yes. The vaccine can protect against oral HPV and other HPV strains that cause genital warts and cervical cancer. There are 2 HPV vaccines available: Cervarix and Gardasil. To work best, the vaccine should be given before you’ve engaged in sex.

Can you be tested for oral HPV?

There is no certain test to determine if you have oral HPV. Your doctor can detect HPV in your mouth through a cancer screening. If you have an oral lesion that doesn’t heal in a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor or dentist. A doctor can perform a biopsy to check if that lesion is cancerous. They can also take a biopsy sample to test for HPV. If HPV is present, treatment options

  • For oral/genital warts include: Aldara, Vidarox, Veregen, TCA and Condylox.
  • For invasive cancer include: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

How can you treat oral HPV?

In most cases, HPV is cleared up by the immune system. This may take 1 to 2 years. If oral HPV causes a lesion, discuss with your doctor about a treatment plan. Oral warts can be removed with surgical excision, cryotherapy, electro-cautery or a laser. Chemotherapy or radiation can help treat oral cancer.

Treatment for oral HPV

How can you reduce the risk of getting HPV and other STDs from oral sex?

The best way to treat and prevent oral HPV is to get the HPV vaccine. You can also reduce your chances of getting HPV and other STDs during oral sex by:

  • Abstaining from any kind of sex including vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • Making sure you and your partner use a condom, or dental dam every time you both have sex.
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners.
  • Being tested for STIs regularly.
  • Not having oral sex with unfamiliar partners.
  • Avoiding sexual intercourse with someone who has an STD.

If you are sexually active, get tested regularly for STDs. If you think you might have an STD, stop having sex and talk to your doctor about testing. Discuss with your doctor about your sexual history. And talk openly to them about any activities that may put you at risk for STDs, including oral sex.

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