Earlier this week, actor Michael Douglas shocked the world by revealing that his throat Cancer was not caused by the typical agents of smoking and drinking, but by the asymptomatic STI HPV that he contracted from performing oral sex. Many saw this statement as shocking and slightly funny, but whatever way the information was absorbed, it has put a spotlight on oral sex and sexual health safety during it.
HPV is the most common STI affecting almost every sexually active person at least once during their lifetime (and yes you can catch it in your mouth from performing oral sex) There is no treatment for HPV and it has no symptoms, however, most cases of the Virus are fought off by the body's immune system (the body fights it off the same way it fights off a cold or flu virus). For the small number of cases that are not treated by the body's immune system, the virus mutates the cells of the infected part of the body and turns into cancer, usually oral cancer, throat cancer or cervical cancer (it takes years for HPV to develop into cancer however).
So I know you're wondering, "how do we protect ourselves from getting HPV?" It's simple. Use condoms during ALL sexual encounters including oral sex. Men who perform cunnilingus can use a dental dam as a barrier of protection between his mouth and his partner's vulva or he can use a condom by cutting it up the middle and spreading it over the vulva as a latex sheet. There is also a vaccine that many doctors are recommending that both men and women get to protect from the four most common strains of HPV, however, the vaccine doesn't work as effectively if one has already been exposed to the virus before the vaccination. The best time to become vaccinated is before becoming sexually active.
What Douglas said may have seemed funny at first glance, but it's no joking matter when one has to undergo strenuous, painful and expensive treatments to cure a cancer that could have been avoided simply by buying a $2 piece of latex to use as a barrier of protection during Sex. Choose to be healthy and practice safer sex and arm yourselves with Knowledge!
For more information about the HPV Vaccine, visit http://www.gardasil.com/