Oral Sex – The Elephant in the Bedroom
Physician's Weekly
September 26, 2023

Oral Sex – The Elephant in the Bedroom


Oral sex is being covered this week for the following reasons:
● To debunk chronic misconceptions.
● To highlight the risks associated with this practice.
● To outline measures that can mitigate these risks.
● I’ve had patients who have died from throat cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which they contracted from oral sex.
● To move the complications of oral sex from hospital hallways and doctors’ conferences into the public domain.
● This subject has been suboptimally covered by the Caribbean media.
● To educate, enlighten, and empower our readers.

Oral sex, also referred to as oral intercourse, is when someone uses their mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and or teeth to stimulate the genitals or anus of another.

Available international data strongly suggest that up to 84 per cent of adults have performed oral sex on at least one occasion.

Factors driving oral sex

● Improved personal hygiene: It has been opined that improved personal hygiene over the last 60-70 years has facilitated a concurrent upsurge in the practice of oral sex.
● Avoidance of pregnancy: Many use oral sex as a way of keeping their partner sexually satisfied while eliminating the chances of pregnancy.
● Easier for the woman to reach an orgasm: Studies have shown that oral sex facilitates orgasms among the 50% of women who fail to reach an orgasm during genital sex.
● A precursor to getting more out of genital sex: Some use oral sex to intensify their sexual arousal, especially of the female, and to heighten their level of enjoyment of genital intercourse ultimately.
● Sexual revolution: With a more liberal outlook on sex, oral sex is no longer taboo in many societies.
● Many misconceptions: These are outlined below

Misconceptions regarding oral sex

● It is not sex: In many cultures, oral sex is not considered sex by many. However, because of its intimate nature, oral sex is very much a form of sexual intercourse.
● You can avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases by practicing oral sex: This is not true. Below I’ve shared the STDs that can be passed from one person to another during oral sex.
● Safe sex practices can be bypassed once one only has oral sex: Definitely not. Please see immediately above.
● Rinsing your mouth after oral sex significantly reduces your chances of contracting an STD, including HIV: Regardless of the type of mouthwash used, this will not significantly reduce your chances of contracting an STD, including HIV, once present.
● A condom should not be worn when having oral sex: False! By using a condom at the time of having oral sex one significantly reduces the chances of transmitting an STD, including HIV.

Factors increasing health risks of oral sex

● Exposure to and exchange of body fluids and secretions.
● Cuts, bruises, breaks in skin, ulcers, or sores in the mouth, genital or anal areas at the time of oral sex.
● When no barriers are used.
● Poor oral hygiene.
● Ejaculating into the mouth.
● If the woman has had an abnormal PAP smear linked to HPV.
● If any of the individuals partaking in oral sex have other partners.
● Performing oral sex on a woman immediately before, during, or just after her period.
● If one of the persons involved is a sex worker or IV drug user.
● If there is little to no communication between those participating in the act.
● Having oral sex with a stranger.

Infections from oral sex 

Immediately below is a list of STDs that can be transmitted via oral sex:

● Chlamydia
● Gonorrhea
● Herpes – Types I and II
● Syphilis
● Hepatitis – A, B & C

Over the last three decades, there has been an upsurge in the incidence of tonsillar and throat cancers, specifically called oropharyngeal cancer. This type of cancer is primarily linked to HPV.

The risk of getting this cancer is directly proportional to the number of sexual partners one has performed oral sex on.

Although yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are not STDs, however, a woman who has oral sex performed on her has an increased chance of developing both infections.

Oral sex is one of the risk factors for urinary tract infections in a female.

Reducing the risk of contracting STDs from oral sex

● KYP – Know Your Partner. Avoid receiving from, or performing oral sex on strangers and sex workers.
● Condoms – These significantly reduce the chances of contracting an STD as a result of oral sex
● Dental dam – This is a very thin membrane (15 x 15 cm) made from latex or polyurethane which is applied to the female genitals or anus before oral sex.
● STD screening should be carried out prior to having oral sex with a new partner
● Oral sex should not be performed on a woman who had an HPV-related abnormal PAP smear.
● Avoid ejaculating into the mouth
● Avoid performing oral sex on a woman during and around her period

Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale. For appointments: clinic@familycaresvg.com, 1(784)570-9300, (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)
Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm
Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper, or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.