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Sexual Health Week

In the 2019 YouGov survey, 43% of men did not know that women do not urinate out of the vagina 1 in 5 women thought the same. In the UK, our sexual health education is sadly lacking. In 2019 a resounding 467,096 sexually transmitted infections (STI) were diagnosed in England alone. We all know that condoms offer the best protection from STIs and pregnancy during penetrative sex.

But what about non-penetrative sex?

That’s right, today it’s time to see how cunning your linguistics are as we dive into the world of oral. From caribou to cheetahs, giraffes to gorillas, macaques to manatees, bears to bottlenose dolphins: oral sex is abundant and natural in the animal world. Yet there is still risk involving the mixing of fluids between two people; a prime opportunity for infections to spread. So which STIs can be spread through oral sex?

Herpes. By the time we are 50 you almost certainly will have been exposed to the Herpes simplex virus type 1. This is the type that gives you cold sores around the mouth and nose. Herpes simplex type 2 is genital herpes. This is characterized by blister-like sores, itchiness, and a burning sensation when urinating. There is currently no cure for genital herpes. However, there is medication to limit breakouts of the sores.

Gonorrhoea. The silent STI around half of the women infected shows no symptoms and 1 in 10 men will show no symptoms. Gonorrhoea is often symptomatic in the mouth, when symptomatic it causes a sore throat, redness, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. In the genitals, it causes thick yellow or green discharge, pain when urinating, and bleeding between periods. Gonorrhoea can be treated with antibiotics but worryingly it is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Syphilis. It may seem like an old-timey Victorian disease, but syphilis is very much with us in the modern age. Syphilis causes small ulcers, sores in the mouth, grey or white warty growths around the genitals, rash on hands and feet, white patches in the mouth, fever, headache, tiredness, swollen glands, and patchy hair loss. Symptoms take around 3 weeks to appear. It is important to get treated with antibiotics as soon as possible because syphilis can have serious complications. These complications can include heart issues, organ damage, brain issues, nerve issues, infertility, skin issues, and bone problems.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI. It is almost inevitable that you will get it at some point in your lifetime. There are around 100 strains with many more subtypes. HPV is predominantly asymptomatic but can cause genital warts, genital cancers, anal cancers, and cancer in the head and neck.

Less common STIs transmitted by oral sex include chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. All of these STIs can be spread by oral sex so protection is the best practice for prevention. If you have a penis, wear a condom while receiving oral sex. If you are performing oral sex on someone with a vagina or going near the anus use a dental dam. A dental dam is a sheet of latex used as a barrier for protection. Dental dams can also be made by cutting condoms.

The main point to take away from this is to be safe. If you show any symptoms of STIs make sure to seek medical advice straight away to minimise their impact.

If you want to learn more about the human body in an informative and interactive setting, get tickets to The Post Mortem Live here!


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