Category: health

Here’s How Oral Sex Can Give You Cancer

Here’s How Oral Sex Can Give You Cancer

Here’s How Oral Sex Can Give You Cancer

You know the benefits of oral sex: It builds intimacy, helps her orgasm, and feels fantastic. In fact, we doubt any of the 85 percent of adults who have had oral sex at least once with their partner would argue that it’s not pretty damn awesome.

But that doesn’t mean oral sex is risk-free. In fact, it’s one of the most common ways to spread sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And depending on the strain you’re infected with, HPV can raise your risk of cancer—specifically of your oropharynx, or the middle part of your throat.

In fact, the number of people diagnosed with HPV-linked throat cancer is growing: Researchers found the presence of HPV in 21 percent of patients with oropharyngeal cancer before 1990. After 2000, 65 percent of sampled patients showed HPV, according to a meta-analysis published in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

“We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of this problem, and it’s really a public health crisis,” explains Ted Teknos, M.D., chairman for the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He says that cases of HPV-related throat cancers have risen 300 percent from the 1980s to the 2000s.

“We’re just seeing the effects now, but it’s going to be much more common in the coming years and decades,” he adds.

Here’s everything you need to know about how oral sex can raise your risk for throat cancer—and exactly what you can do to protect yourself from it.

Throat cancer, officially known as oropharyngeal cancer, is more than twice as common in men than women, according to the American Cancer Society. It specifically affects your tonsils and the base, or the very back, of your tongue, says Dr. Teknos.

Throat cancer is different from oral cancer, which occurs in your lips, gums, tongue, linings of your cheek, or the roof or floor of your mouth. Throat cancer and oral cancer share some common causes—think smoking or chewing tobacco—but HPV is not one of them. Certain HPV strains are linked to throat cancer, not to oral cancer, he explains.

About 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV, says the National Cancer Institute. So what’s going on?

HPV is a shockingly common STD. Between 2013 and 2014, 45 percent of men aged 18 to 59 carried some form of HPV, according to the most recent CDC data. It’s so common that if you’re sexually active, you’ll probably contract it at some point in your life.

But that definitely doesn’t mean everyone who does will go on to develop the cancer. That’s because in the vast majority of the cases, your body will fight it off, clearing it from your system within 1 to 2 years.

There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect you, though. And some strains are more serious than others. Doctors call them “high risk” strains, and researchers found that of the men who tested positive for genital HPV, 25 percent carried at least one of them. The type most commonly linked to throat cancer is called HPV 16.

Research shows that nearly 7 percent of Americans have oral HPV, but only 1 percent carries that cancer-causing type, according to the CDC.

If you’re unlucky enough to harbor a cancer-causing strain, proteins that are coded by the virus can attack your cells and cause them to grow out of control. At the same time, it messes with cell suicide—a scary-sounding process that’s actually completely normal, and stops cells from multiplying unchecked if there’s a problem there, explains Dr. Teknos. As a result, cancerous cells can begin to increase rapidly, causing the formation of the HPV-positive tumor.

It wasn’t until recently that doctors and researchers made the link between HPV and throat cancer. Decades ago, the vast majority of throat cancers were caused by smoking—and the cancers were notoriously difficult to treat.

But from the early ‘80s to ‘90s, hospitals started seeing patients who had never smoked developing cancer in their tonsils, and their cancers were a lot easier to cure than the smokers’ cancer were.

“That’s when people knew something was different,” says Dr. Teknos.

Zeroing in on the sexual revolution of the 60s, they landed on HPV as the likely culprit. The STD can be passed by giving and receiving oral sex, and even by open mouth kissing alone. If your throat is infected with it, and you go down on your partner, you can transmit it to him or her, and vice versa.

Once it’s in your throat, it can lay dormant for decades—that’s why doctors are just now seeing an uptick in oral sex-related cancer diagnoses.

Scary thing is, HPV-linked throat cancer is virtually symptomless at its early stages.

The telltale sign, which usually appears only when it’s progressed to a more advanced stage? A painless lump in your neck. “It’s usually right where you get swollen glands from tonsillitis, the upper part of the neck right next to your voice box region,” explains Dr. Teknos.

Most guys will feel it while they’re shaving and mistake it for an infection—and if you rock a beard, you might not even notice it at all.

Other symptoms include trouble swallowing, subtle changes to your voice, and a mild sore throat that can persist and became more painful over time, but these are typically more pronounced in people with smoking-related throat cancer.

Most people catch HPV during their sexually robust college years, explains Dr. Teknos. In fact, about 10 percent of students on campuses have cancer-causing HPV in their mouths at any given time, he says.

Again, that doesn’t mean all those people will go on to get the cancer: In most cases, your body will clear the infection within two years (During that time, though, you’d still be able to pass it on to your partners).

The best way to dodge it is to play the preventive game. Get the HPV vaccine to protect yourself from the cancer-causing strains. If you’re 26 or younger, insurance will cover the vaccine. If you didn’t get it when you were a kid, you can still get the vaccine as an adult if you meet certain criteria, per the CDC’s recommendations. (Here’s exactly how you can prevent HPV.)

“There’s only about 1 percent of cancers that have been identified due to strains that may or may not be included in the vaccine, so it’s 99 percent preventable with vaccination—but the key is, you need to vaccinate yourself before you’re exposed,” says Dr. Teknos.

If you’re well over the vaccine age limit and don’t meet the other criteria, you can help keep yourself safe by limiting your number of sexual partners. Research shows your risk skyrockets once you’re sexually involved with six or more people, explains Dr. Teknos. Utilizing condoms and dental dams correctly can also lower your risk.

Sex Ed: Condoms:

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There’s not much you can do to minimize your risk once you’ve been diagnosed with HPV. Think of it this way: People who smoke a lot and drink heavily are at a 40 times higher risk of developing throat cancer malignancies than people who don’t.

That risk is 55 times higher for someone with HPV, says Dr. Teknos.

But if you do get the cancer from your HPV infection, there’s more than a 90 percent chance that you’ll successfully be cured of it, he says. Like with all cancers, earlier detection can improve your changes of survival, so if you notice any of the symptoms listed above—especially if you’ve been diagnosed with HPV—loop in your doctor as soon as possible.

[…]

Sexually transmitted disease without symptoms? Everything you need to know about it

Sexually transmitted disease without symptoms? Everything you need to know about it

It has no apparent signs until much later in its development

With no outward symptoms in the early stage, chlamydia remains one of the most common sexually transmitted STDs. This is because it is passed on to partners unknowingly through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. This silent killer can lead to serious or permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system.

If the infection remains untreated, it can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause permanent damage. This can lead to long-term pelvic paininfertility and ectopic pregnancy which is a life threatening condition.

FACTS ABOUT CHLAMYDIA:

  • SYMPTOMS:Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis that is spread through incidental contact, sexually or orally.
  • Affecting both sexes, women can get chlamydia in the cervix, rectum or throat while men can get chlamydia in the urethra (inside the penis), rectum or throat as well.
  • Newborn babies can acquire chlamydia from an infected mother during childbirth and while it may not be common, one can get the infection in the eye through oral or genital contact with the eyes.
  • Those at the highest risk of infection are sexually active young adults especially women under the age of 25, women with multiple partners and gay men.
  • According to healthline.com, infection rates are highest among younger women partly because their immature cervical cells are more vulnerable to infection.
  • One of the most common myths about chlamydia is that it cannot be cured. Not so. Antibiotics can be used to rid the body of this infection.

With no apparent signs until much later in its development, the following symptoms may become noticeable weeks after infection.

Men experience small amounts of clear or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis, painful urination, burning and itching around the opening of the penis and albeit less common, pain and swelling in one or both testicles.

Women on the other hand experience abnormal vaginal discharge that may have an odor, bleeding between periods, painful periods, abdominal pain with fever, pain when having sex (dyspareunia), itching or burning in or around the vagina and pain when urinating. In some instances, the infection may spread to the fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The symptoms of PID include fever, severe pelvic pain, nausea and abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods.

When a person is infected in the anus, the main symptoms are discharge, pain and bleeding from that part of the body.

For those who may have contracted chlamydia orally, one may notice a sore throat, cough or fever.

DIAGNOSIS:

Doctors use lab tests to determine whether one is infected or not. They may ask you for a urine sample to check for the presence of the bacteria or a vaginal swab in women, and at times a sample from the urethra in men. If one is suspected to have an infection in the throat, that is swabbed too.

TREATMENT:

Depending on the severity, the doctor will prescribe the recommended dosage of antibiotics which must be followed to the tee and one should refrain from sexual activity to avoid reinfection.

But good news is, the infection should clear up in about a week or so after treatment.

However, women with severe chlamydia may be put on pain medicine and intravenous antibiotics (medicine given through a vein).

Once treatment has commenced it is advisable to be re-tested after three months to be sure the infection is cured.

[…]

This STD is becoming ‘smarter’ and harder to treat

This STD is becoming ‘smarter’ and harder to treat

GENEVA — Gonorrhea is becoming harder and in some cases impossible to treat with antibiotics, the World Health Organization said. “The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at […]

via This STD is becoming ‘smarter’ and harder to treat — myfox8.com