Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Open wide...?

From time to time we’ll give you updates on men’s health issues. If there’s a particular area you’re interested in – email me at and let me know. Questions will be treated confidentially and names and addresses will not be published. But remember, nothing beats a face to face consultation with your GP.

Safe Sex: Word of Mouth

When was the last time you used a condom for oral sex? While most guys are comfortable pulling out a condom for anal sex, when it comes to sucking or being sucked, raw is usually the go. So how safe is unprotected oral sex?

We usually think predominantly about HIV, leaving other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) forgotten, but in fact BOTH can be transmitted orally. If your sexual partner has no infections then you’re safe, but how do you know if they do or don’t? STI’s often have no symptoms, so maybe he doesn’t know he has one, maybe you have something and don’t know it either?

While HIV isn’t commonly spread through oral sex, infections like Herpes, Genital warts/HPV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Hepatitis B are quite readily spread this way. Recent studies have also shown that the more people you have had oral sex with, the higher your risk of oral cancers, (related to increased infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).) Okay guys, don’t panic, these cancers aren’t especially common, and are still much more commonly caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption.

So if you want 100% complete health protection then you’ll want to use a condom for oral sex. If you haven’t tried it for a while it might be fun to try, perhaps using some flavoured condoms might lead to new sensations…

Still, many will find this unpalatable. So what’s the next best thing?

The next best thing is to minimise your risks. Know what puts you at higher risk and minimise these.
Your risk of infection with an STI during oral sex is much higher when you have any cuts or tears in your mouth or on your penis.
What will make this more likely?
 Oral lesions particularly STIs
 Ulcers (which can be more common in people with HIV)
 Brushing or flossing teeth within two hours of activities such as unprotected oral sex
 Eating abrasive or spicy foods
 Dental disease
 Recent dental treatment
 Gingivitis (inflamed or bleeding gums)
 Certain prescribed and non-prescribed drugs which irritate oral tissues (eg.amphetamines)
 Allergies
 Trauma
 Piercings
 Oral herpes
 Rough or very vigorous oral sex

Some of these you can’t avoid – so if you have these – look at better protection or alternative sexual activities until they resolve. If you’re worried about bad breath, chewing gum, or using mouthwash is a healthy alternative to brushing your teeth. If you’re doing the ‘movie then sex date’, then perhaps avoid popcorn, or eat after sex… I think you get the picture. Remember that while HIV usually requires a break in your defences for infection, the non-HIV STI’s aren’t always so picky.

Obviously the more bodily fluids you come into contact with, the more risk you have of infection, so avoiding ejaculation into your mouth (or any body part that’s not healthy skin), and your risks will be even more reduced.

The good news? If you’re the one who’s being sucked, your risks of HIV infection are negligible unless you have breaks in the skin on your penis (cuts or any ulcers), as saliva is pretty hostile to HIV.

To swallow or to spit? The risks are similar either way, but the stomach is a hostile environment to HIV so it isn’t any greater risk to swallow.

Remember to have regular sexual health check ups, which include your mouth, and revise you immunisation status with your health care provider.

Watch for: HPV vaccination – it’s now available and free in Australia for women under 28, but not for men, yet.

For Detailed medical information on HIV infection risks– Click Here (Canadian-pdf)
For Further Safe Sex information Click Here (Victorian Health Dept Site)


Spamouflage said...

Oral sex with a condom must feel like sucking on sausage casing. I guess that's exactly what it is.

Stephen said...

If you use a condom for oral sex, do NOT make the mistake of using a pre-lubricated one. Vile, vile taste.

Trevor said...

There are loads of different flavours now! From Coffee, Blueberry, Mint, Chocolate and appropriately Banana!... to Curry.
Do they do a Lamb Roast?

Jessica said...

YAY! Trevor! A bunch of different flavored condoms are available... And you shouldn't knock it 'til you've tried it.

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