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How Safe Is Oral Sex?

Discussion in 'Herpes Symptoms' started by Jerry, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. Jerry

    Jerry Newbie

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    I came across this article, and I think it has some good info. Hope it helps someone.



    How Safe Is Oral Sex?
    By Steven Miller

    In the smorgasbord of sexual delights, most of us enjoy the appetizers fellatio, cunnilingus and analingus with uncertain concerns about possible health issues. We all know it?s safer than vaginal or anal penetration so often feel more at ease exploring it. But before you snack on the delights south of the border, make sure you understand what you?re getting into and what risks you?re facing.

    FELLATIO

    Oral sex performed on a man is generally considered ?safer? sex but can still transmit many STDs, including the HIV virus. Most people do not use condoms when engaging in oral sex but they should. Common-sense care should be taken ? if there are open sores on the penis, don?t put it in your mouth. Here are the possible STDs you can catch during fellatio:

    HIV:
    Yes, there have been documented cases of people contracting the HIV virus through oral sex, although they are rare. The CDC also lists the possibility of contracting the HIV from receiving oral sex since particles of contaminated blood can travel along the urethra. If you are performing oral sex, be careful when your partners climaxes. It is better to either swallow or spit than hold his cum in your mouth since small abrasions in the lining of the mouth can facilitate the spread of the HIV virus. The HIV virus is also present in pre-cum, although it is believed that saliva can neutralize the HIV virus; thus fellatio is not considered a high-risk activity.

    OTHER STDS:
    Most other STDs that can be spread through oral sex are treatable, but since you?d prefer to avoid them, here are some of the more common ones to be aware of.

    ? Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is spread when blood or body fluids pass from one infected person to another through a break in the skin or mucous membranes such as eyes or sores in the mouth. Symptoms may mimic the flu and include anorexia, malaise, nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, and jaundice. Less than one percent of infected people die during the acute phase. Most people recover in a few months with bed rest and a proper diet, which usually includes restrictions on alcohol and other medications. While there is no specific treatment, medication is available to treat chronic Hepatitis B sufferers. Between six and ten percent of adults who get Hepatitis B become chronic carriers, which means they are infected with the virus for life. Untreated, Hepatitis B can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

    ? Chlamydia: According to the CDC, if you perform oral sex on someone who has Chlamydia, you may contract Chlamydia in the throat, which will present symptoms such as red, sore throat. If you have the Chlamydia bacteria in your throat and perform oral sex on someone, they may catch Chlamydia and show genital symptoms. These symptoms generally appear seven to twenty-one days after contact although some people have no symptoms. In women, symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, burning or pain when urinating, and anal discomfort. In men, symptoms include watery or thick white discharge from the penis, burning or pain when urinating, and anal discomfort. Doctor prescribed medication will cure Chlamydia. Untreated, Chlamydia can lead to infertility. Someone treated for Chlamydia can become re-infected.

    ? Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is also known as the ?clap?. Symptoms appear two to seven days after contact, although sometimes may be absent in women. Symptoms for women include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, burning or pain while urinating or during bowel movement, abnormally painful periods, and anal discomfort. Symptoms in men include thick, white or yellow pus from the penis, burning or pain when urinating or during bowel movement, and anal discomfort. Doctor prescribed medication can cure gonorrhea. Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to infertility and joint infection. A person can be re-infected after treatment.

    ? Syphilis: In the first stage of infection, symptoms appear one to twelve weeks after exposure and begin as a painful, open sore on the mouth, genitals or anus. The sores may disappear but the syphilis remains in the blood. In the second stage, six weeks to six months after the sores appear, a rash may appear on the body followed by flu-like symptoms. In its final, tertiary stage, there may be no sore or rashes, but syphilis will stay in the blood and affect the heart and brain and other organs resulting in heart disease, blindness and brain damage. Prescribed medication will cure syphilis, although treated patients may become re-infected.

    ? NGU: Symptoms of Nongonococcal Urethritis appear 1-3 weeks after contact. They are frequently not present in most women and some men. Symptoms include clear, yellow or white pus from the penis, a discharge or burning of the vagina, burning or pain during urination. NGU can be cured with medication. Untreated, NGU can lead to more serious infections, damaged reproductive organs and infertility. Those who have been treated for NGU can be re-infected.

    ? Chancroids: Symptoms appear four to ten days after exposure and include painful, open sores in the genital area and painful, swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Left untreated, the sores can cause destruction of foreskin tissue on the penis, and the open sore can become infected with other germs. Medication can be prescribed to cure Chancroids although treated patients can become re-infected.

    ? Herpes: Herpes is split into two groups: Herpes Simplex Virus One (HSV-1), usually seen as cold sores around the mouth, and Herpes Simplex Virus Two (HSV-2), which appears as a genital sore. A person almost always gets HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. A person can get HSV-1 by coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person. You can catch the HSV-1 infection of the genitals by receiving oral sex from a person who has the oral HSV-1 infection. If your partner has genital HSV-2 and you perform oral sex on him or her, you can potentially get HSV-2 in your mouth, but this is uncommon. One reason, according to The American Social Health Association, is that most adults are already infected with HSV-1 orally, which provides some immunity against infection with HSV-2. Another reason is that oral HSV-2 rarely reactivates; even if an infection does exist, it can be undetected. HSV-1 can be spread from genitals to genitals but is spread more easily through oral sex because HSV-1 reactivates more frequently in the oral area. There is no cure for Herpes, although antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks.

    ? Genital Warts/HPV: The Human Papilloma Virus includes over one hundred different strains, thirty of which are sexually transmitted. Some of these are potentially dangerous and can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus or penis. Others, including genital warts, are not dangerous. These usually appear in small clusters as moist, pink swelling and often have a cauliflower-like appearance. There is no cure for HPV. The infection will usually go away itself.

    ? Vaginitis: Symptoms of Vaginitis include burning or vaginal pain, and foul-smelling discharge. Men can contract Vaginitis and have a slight discharge and discomfort of the penis. Medication taken by both partners will cure Vaginitis. Untreated Vaginitis can lead to infections in the prostrate gland and urethra in men.

    CUNNILINGUS

    Since semen has long be blighted as one of the most potent carriers of STDs, cunnilingus ? oral sex performed on women ? has enjoyed the reign of one of the safest forms of sex. While dental dams and saran wrap have been recommended as forms of protection, how many of us actually use them when going down on our female partners? Before you become too complacent about cunnilingus, there are some things you need to know.


    HIV:
    According to the CDC, it is theoretically possible to transmit the HIV virus through cunnilingus. Since the HIV virus is transmitted through bodily fluids, it is also present in the vaginal fluids and in the saliva. Most importantly, it is prevalent in blood, so women who have recently had their period and have menstrual blood present can spread the HIV virus, especially if there are open cuts in your mouth as small as those made by brushing your teeth, or if there are ulcers or open sores in the mouth.

    OTHER STDS:
    Most other STDs that can be spread through oral sex are treatable, but since you?d prefer to avoid them, here are some of the more common ones to be aware of.

    ? Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is spread when blood or body fluids pass from one infected person to another through a break in the skin or mucous membranes such as eyes or sores in the mouth. Symptoms may mimic the flu and include anorexia, malaise, nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, and jaundice. Less than one percent of infected people die during the acute phase. Most people recover in a few months with bed rest and a proper diet, which usually includes restrictions on alcohol and other medications. While there is no specific treatment, medication is available to treat chronic Hepatitis B sufferers. Between six and ten percent of adults who get Hepatitis B become chronic carriers, which means they are infected with the virus for life. Untreated, Hepatitis B can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

    ? Chlamydia: According to the CDC, if you perform oral sex on someone who has Chlamydia, you may contract Chlamydia in the throat, which will present symptoms such as red, sore throat. If you have the Chlamydia bacteria in your throat and perform oral sex on someone, they may catch Chlamydia and show genital symptoms. These symptoms generally appear seven to twenty-one days after contact although some people have no symptoms. In women, symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, burning or pain when urinating, and anal discomfort. In men symptoms include watery or thick white discharge from the penis, burning or pain when urinating, and anal discomfort. Doctor prescribed medication will cure Chlamydia. Untreated, Chlamydia can lead to infertility. Someone treated for Chlamydia can become re-infected.

    ? Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is also known as the ?clap?. Symptoms appear two to seven days after contact, although may be absent in women. Symptoms for women include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, burning or pain while urinating or during bowel movement, more painful periods, and anal discomfort. Symptoms in men include thick, white or yellow pus from the penis, burning or pain when urinating or during bowel movement, and anal discomfort. Doctor prescribed medication can cure gonorrhea. Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to infertility and joint infection. A person can be re-infected after treatment.

    ? Syphilis: In the first stage of infection, symptoms appear one to twelve weeks after exposure and begin as a painful, open sore on the mouth, genitals or anus. The sores may disappear but the syphilis remains in the blood. In the second stage, six weeks to six months after the sores appear, a rash may appear on the body followed by flu-like symptoms. In its final, tertiary stage, there may be no sore or rashes, but syphilis will stay in the blood and affect the heart and brain and other organs resulting in heart disease, blindness and brain damage. Prescribed medication will cure syphilis, although treated patients may become re-infected.

    ? NGU: Symptoms of Nongonococcal Urethritis appear one to three weeks after contact. Symptoms are frequently not present in most women and some men. Symptoms include clear, yellow or white pus from the penis, a discharge or burning of the vagina, burning or pain during urination. NGU can be cured with medication. Untreated, NGU can lead to more serious infections, damaged reproductive organs and infertility. Those who have been treated for NGU can be re-infected.

    ? Chancroids: Symptoms appear four to ten days after exposure and include painful, open sores in the genital area and painful, swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Left untreated, the sores can cause destruction of foreskin tissue on the penis and the open sore can become infected with other germs. Medication can be prescribed to cure Chancroids although treated patients can become re-infected.

    ? Herpes: Herpes is split into two groups: Herpes Simplex Virus One (HSV-1), usually seen as cold sores around the mouth, and Herpes Simplex Virus Two (HSV-2), which appears as a genital sore. A person almost always gets HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. A person can get HSV-1 by coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person. You can catch the HSV-1 infection of the genitals by receiving oral sex from a person who has the oral HSV-1 infection. If your partner has genital HSV-2 and you perform oral sex on him or her, you can potentially get HSV-2 in your mouth, but this is uncommon. One reason, according to The American Social Health Association, is that most adults are already infected with HSV-1 orally, which provides some immunity against infection with HSV-2. Another reason is that oral HSV-2 rarely reactivates; even if an infection does exist, it can be undetected. HSV-1 can be spread from genitals to genitals but is spread more easily through oral sex because HSV-1 reactivates more frequently in the oral area. There is no cure for Herpes, although antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks.

    ? Genital Warts/HPV: The Human Papilloma Virus includes over one hundred different strains, thirty of which are sexually transmitted. Some of these are potentially dangerous and can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus or penis. Others, including genital warts, are not dangerous. These usually appear in small clusters as moist, pink swelling and often have a cauliflower-like appearance. There is no cure for HPV. The infection will usually go away itself.

    ? Vaginitis: Symptoms of Vaginitis include burning or vaginal pain, and foul-smelling discharge. Men can contract Vaginitis and have a slight discharge and discomfort of the penis. Medication taken by both partners will cure Vaginitis. Untreated Vaginitis can lead to infections in the prostrate gland and urethra in men.

    ANALINGUS

    Oral-to-anal sex, also called rimming, would seem like a reasonably safe sexual activity since there are virtually no fluid exchanges happening. To some degree, it is. Since many STDs require the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal fluids, analingus is a lower risk sex activity ? but only for certain STDs. The problem with rimming is that your mouth is coming into contact with fecal matter. No matter how clean the area is, there is no way to avoid this. Health care providers recommend using a dental dam or saran wrap to help protect you when you are performing analingus.

    HIV:
    The chance of catching HIV from rimming is so negligible that many consider it not worth attention. It is true that blood can be present in fecal matter or from the rectal lining (if the person being rimmed has had hemorrhoids or some other condition), so it?s worth being cautious. It is considered almost impossible to catch HIV if you are on the receiving end of analingus.

    OTHER STDS:
    Despite the absence of bodily fluid exchanges, when the mouth and anus meet there are exchanges that could lead to the transmission of a number of STDs and other parasites. The CDC warns that while these parasites may not be life-threatening, people with compromised immune systems need to be especially careful when rimming.

    ? Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is transmitted through oral-fecal contact. Symptoms may include fever, tiredness, nausea, abdominal pain, and dark urine, although some people may show no symptoms at all. Chronic infection does not occur and while there is no cure for hepatitis A, most people will recover after a period of illness.

    ? E-coli: A bacterial infection, E-coli is also transmitted through contact with fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and intestinal bleeding. E-coli infection can be treated with medical attention.

    ? Intestinal Parasites: Parasites are microbial organisms can be digested through rimming. These can cause intestinal diseases such as cryptosporidiosis, dysentery, and giardiasis. Symptoms may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, intestinal bleeding. Parasites can be treated with medical care.

    ? Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is also known as the ?clap?. Symptoms appear two to seven days after contact, although may be absent in women. Symptoms for women include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, burning or pain while urinating or during bowel movement, more painful periods, and anal discomfort. Symptoms in men include thick, white or yellow pus from the penis, burning or pain when urinating or during bowel movement, and anal discomfort. Doctor prescribed medication can cure gonorrhea. Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to infertility and joint infection. A person can be re-infected after treatment.

    ? Syphilis: in the first stage of infection, symptoms appear one to twelve weeks after exposure and begin as a painful, open sore on the mouth, genitals or anus. The sores may disappear but the syphilis remains in the blood. In the second stage, six weeks to six months after the sores appear, a rash may appear on the body followed by flu-like symptoms. In its final, tertiary stage, there may be no sore or rashes, but syphilis will stay in the blood and affect the heart and brain and other organs resulting in heart disease, blindness and brain damage. Prescribed medication will cure syphilis, although treated patients may become re-infected.

    ? NGU: Symptoms of Nongonococcal Urethritis appear one to three weeks after contact. Symptoms are frequently not present in most women and some men. Symptoms include clear, yellow or white pus from the penis, a discharge or burning of the vagina, burning or pain during urination. NGU can be cured with medication. Untreated, NGU can lead to more serious infections, damaged reproductive organs and infertility. Those who have been treated for NGU can be re-infected.

    ? Chancroids: Symptoms appear four to ten days after exposure and include painful, open sores in the genital area and painful, swollen lymph nodes in the groin. Left untreated, the sores can cause destruction of foreskin tissue on the penis and the open sore can become infected with other germs. Medication can be prescribed to cure Chancroids although treated patients can become re-infected.

    ? Herpes: Herpes is split into two groups: Herpes Simplex Virus One (HSV-1), usually seen as cold sores around the mouth, and Herpes Simplex Virus Two (HSV-2), which appears as a genital sore. A person almost always gets HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. A person can get HSV-1 by coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person. You can catch the HSV-1 infection of the genitals by receiving oral sex from a person who has the oral HSV-1 infection. If your partner has genital HSV-2 and you perform oral sex on him or her, you can potentially get HSV-2 in your mouth, but this is uncommon. One reason, according to The American Social Health Association, is that most adults are already infected with HSV-1 orally, which provides some immunity against infection with HSV-2. Another reason is that oral HSV-2 rarely reactivates; even if an infection does exist, it can be undetected. HSV- 1 can be spread from genitals to genitals but is spread more easily through oral sex because HSV-1 reactivates more frequently in the oral area. There is no cure for Herpes, although antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks.

    ? Genital Warts/HPV: The Human Papilloma Virus includes over one hundred different strains, thirty of which are sexually transmitted. Some of these are potentially dangerous and can lead to cancer of the cervix, anus or penis. Others, including genital warts, are not dangerous. These usually appear in small clusters as moist, pink swelling and often have a cauliflower-like appearance. There is no cure for HPV. The infection will usually go away itself.

    Sources:
    http://www.ashastd.org/stdfaqs
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/dstd/dstdp.html
    http://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases.html
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