Thursday, 15 November 2012
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Over the years, the practice of oral sex has been a common phenomenon in all societies. However, the health implications of the practise have been stressed by experts who warn that oral sex can lead to several infections, including throat cancer. Toyin Akinola and Serah Folarin reports.
Oral sex refers to sexual acts involving the stimulation of the genitalia by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat. Oral sex is now very common among both heterosexual and homosexual couples. People may involve in oral sex as part of foreplay before sexual intercourse, and even during, or following an intercourse.
Studies indicate that a significant proportion of adolescents are engaging in non-coital sexual activities, including oral sex. Between 14 per cent and 50 per cent of adolescents have had oral sex before their first experience of sexual intercourse. More adolescents have had oral sex than vaginal sex, and this is commonly practised by sexually active male-female and same-gender couples of various ages.
In heterosexual contexts, oral sex is used by some couples as a method of contraception. It is chosen as an alternative to vaginal intercourse for this reason. Study shows that oral sex alone cannot result in pregnancy.
Under normal circumstances, the sperm from the penis cannot fertilise an egg without going through the vagina. In humans, there is no connection between the gastrointestinal system and the reproductive tract.
For many years, oral sex was regarded as an almost “unmentionable” activity. But these days, research suggests that most sexually active people go in for it sometimes. In 2010, the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention published the results of a large survey, in which they found that 90.8 per cent of males aged between 25 and 44, had had oral sex with a woman. And 88.8 per cent of females in the same age group had tried oral sex with a man.
Oral sex has been viewed as a way of preserving male or female virginity, since it leaves the hymen intact. Studies have also shown that oral sex was effective at helping a woman reach a climax, prevent pregnancy as well as to help men who have minor difficulty in getting an erection.
However, a lot of people quitely worry about whether oral love play could expose them to infections, particularly HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus). And in 2010, serious worries began to emerge about whether people could contract Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the throat area and that this could lead to cancer.
Research shows that oral sex can transmit germs, and it has a direct impact on the transmission of infections. A cut in the mouth, bleeding gums, lip sores or broken skin, all increase the chances of an infection.
Dr Olujimi Odutola, Medical Director, Ibadan Central Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, said oral sex has been found to have its own problems because it can easily transmit infections. He said people who engage in oral sex are at a higher risk of having oral cancer.
Although many youths consider oral sex to be safer than vaginal sex, he described this as a perilous fallacy, adding that even though pregnancy was not an outcome of oral sex, sexually transmitted infections are.
Teens and adults who engage in oral sex need to know that oral sex is associated with several STIs, including HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Studies show that oral sex is an efficient mode of transmission for syphilis, gonorrhoea and herpes, HIV, chlamydia and HPV (human papilloma virus).
Research shows that 10 years ago, oral cancer among women was practically unheard of. Patients were nearly always male and over 50, heavy smokers or drinkers, or both.
But according to the Journal Clinical Oncology, there has been a major upswing in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, a deadly disease often found in the base of the tongue and the tonsils. In fact, roughly a quarter of all oral cancers are now HPV-related, according to the American Cancer Society. And approximately 25 per cent of this cases occur in women; some as young as 19, says Gregory Masters, M.D. an oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Centre in Newark, Delaware.
Research shows that approximately 20 million Americans currently have HPV, with six million new infections discovered each year through Pap or cervical swab tests, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. What's more, the virus, which can have zero symptoms or bloom into a series of visible warts, will affect up to 80 per cent of sexually active women at some point in their lives.
As any doctor at a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic can tell, it is possible to acquire several forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) through oral sex, if the other person is infected. Gonorrhoea, a common STD, can be transmitted to the throat during oral sex. Because of this fact, GUM clinics often take 'throat swabs' these days. In the throat, the germ can cause inflammation, formation of pus and sometimes soreness.
According to Dr Odutola, oral sex can lead to candida infection, staphylococcus and other infections. He said it also increases the chance of contracting HIV because when an HIV-positive man ejaculates into the mouth of a woman, he can easily pass the virus to her by that singular act.
HPV is carried by many people. There are about 120 different strains of it. Some of them can cause warts, including genital warts. Others can cause cancer, notably cervical cancer. In the early years of the 21st century, a small number of doctors began to warn that oral sex might perhaps pass on HPV and this could lead to cancer of the throat and mouth area.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that people who had more than five “oral partners” had a nine-fold increase in risk of cancer of the tonsils or tongue.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, more than 50 per cent of all oral cancers are now HPV-related. And there's no question that oral sex has become more common in recent decades.
So far, no one has actually proved that oral sex could give mouth or throat cancer. However, in the light of current evidence, it is clear that both men and women should now be trying to follow a policy of 'risk reduction' where oral sex is concerned.
Oral sex has been considered a taboo, or at least frowned upon, in many cultures, especially in this part of the world. A common virus believed to be transmitted during oral sex is the cause of a rare throat cancer in both men and women.
The study of this throat cancer was the first to prove the link between the human papillomavirus (HPV), also being the leading cause of cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancer, according to a paper published in the the New England Journal of Medicine.
Reactions from people of sexual orientation on this matter range from disgust to reverence. Bukola Popoola (student): Admitted that, “I enjoy oral sex. It is a very romantic and an exciting act. It helps me reach an orgasm without actually having a vaginal penetration. I believe it shouldn’t pose any danger to one’s health, so long as I don’t allow the man to release into my mouth.”
Bamidele Joshua (company supervisor): Said “I personally think it is gross and unfair to the other person. Firstly, the penis isn’t exactly made for the mouth. Also, I would feel bad If I did that to any lady.
Daniel Afolabi (student): Says, “I don’t believe in oral sex. I feel it is a dirty act. I can’t practise it with any lady, because I don’t know what she has down there.”
Funto Folarin (civil servant): “Is of the view that, “Some men whose wives refuse to practise oral sex with them complain that other women do it with the people they love, and if the woman truly loves them, she should do it with them. I believe no one should be forced into this act. You should do it if you are comfortable, If not, don’t.”
Odumade Toun (civil servant): Said, “I feel it is a disgusting act.”
Olamide Oyinlola (administrator personel): Maintains that, “I believe it is not good, because you can contract various diseases through it. I believe it encourages lesbianism, homosexuality and other immoral acts. My stand is, if you want to have sex, do so and stop this dirty act.”
For parents and teenage counsellors, the risks of oral sex, should be amplified among the youths in particular to discourage them from embracing this act. They should be sensitised on the inherent dangers of oral sex. Time must always be created to educate them on sex.
Medical experts have discovered that vitamin C protects from scurvy as well as boost immunity. Moreover, in a new study, experts say that high intakes of vitamin C either as supplements or in fruits such as oranges could protect against osteoporosis by preventing the loss of bone density and promoting bone formation, reports Sade Oguntola.
Tetanus in newborn babies still contributes considerably to deaths in children. Experts warn that unhygienic cord care practices by mothers have been a major factor and suggest the use of only clean, tepid water in cord care, reports Sade Oguntola.
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