Sexual health expert Dr. Catherine Hood answers Can you catch an STI through oral sex in the company of Emma Howard.
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Emma Howard: Hello! We are answering questions on sexual health. I am joined by Dr. Catherine Hood. Hello, Catherine! Dr. Catherine Hood: Hello! Emma Howard: Got a question here from an 18 year old, who wants to know -- something I am sure, lots of 18 years olds actually want to know. Currently, in a relationship with their first sexual partner, recently she said, she would like me to perform oral sex with her, but is it possible to catch an STI, which of course is a Sexually Transmitted Infection from oral sex, and if so what can I do to prevent this? I think that this is a big concern for young people, isn't it. They are all thinking about herpes, and things like that. Dr. Catherine Hood: Exactly! And also a lot of young people now engaged in more oral sex than perhaps, you know we do when we were teenagers. So it is a concern, and the answer is yes you can pick out sexually transmitted infections through oral sex and there is a variety of them you can get. The first one as you mentioned is herpes. Now herpes, is of course by the virus herpes, simplest virus. Now that's the virus that causes cold sores, so not only is it possible to actually pick up the virus from someone's genital area, if they have got the genital infection but it is possible to pick from her [Voice Overlap] area. Yeah -- through oral sex to her, okay. That's the one that can pass either way, so -- Emma Howard: So a big, no, no, is if you have got cold sores, which everybody can say just refrain from oral sex, until you are completely cleared out. Dr. Catherine Hood: Absolutely, until it's completely gone. So, that's one thing to say. Now there are other infections as well to be concerned about with oral sex. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can both be spread through oral sex. So if your partner has any symptoms, or you are worried if this is your first partner, it depends on what her sexual history was before, if she is likely to have any infections, that's worth getting a check up, and just make sure she hasn't got anything. Emma Howard: I can imagine that a young 18 year old boy want big signs, what can I do to prevent this, have any Dr. Catherine Hood: Yeah. Emma Howard: Signs apart from the herpes and cold sore things, what are the signs? Dr. Catherine Hood: Well, if she is feeling discomfort or anything that's increased discharged; we also have to remember, she may not have any signs, nothing at all. Emma Howard: Hopefully not. Dr. Catherine Hood: Now in terms of checking yourself, you can use a thing called dental dam. Now a lot of people don't like using these. It's a thin sheet of latex, a bit like the latex you get in the condom and you can spread this across the vulva area and it acts as a barrier between your mouth and their genital area. So it again it stops any sexual transmission from catching -- Emma Howard: -- matter they have been particularly popular or easy to get hold of. Dr. Catherine Hood: They are very easy to hold of. Emma Howard: Available at chemist along with the condom. Dr. Catherine Hood: Yeah, you can get it in the chemist, absolutely. But yeah a lot of people don't like using them I have to say, so probably going in just making sure you are both clean, have a nice check up is probably the easiest thing to do then you can have oral sex that way. Emma Howard: And if you are worried that you have got anything, get yourself checked out. And these things aren't fatal, are they? I mean sexual diseases can be but the ones that we are talking are easily cleared up -- Dr. Catherine Hood: These are not fatal, but there is one other thing, particular for women with oral sex, not so much for him but that we are increasingly seeing oral cancers in younger people, and we think that might well be linked to transmission of the sexually transmitted infected called human papillomavirus. And so by having a lot of oral sex with lots of different partners, you might be putting yourself an increased risk of oral cancers. Emma Howard: So that's