Oral sex is one of the most intimate acts a couple can enjoy, but this pleasurable act can turn hazardous sometimes. Also referred to as oral intercourse, oral sex is the sexual activity that involves using your mouth, lips or tongue to stimulate your partner’s genitals or anus. But experts say this sexual act can significantly increase the risk of catching or passing on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, and viral hepatitis. But many don’t know that STDs can be spread orally. Research has also found an association between oral sex and throat cancer. The risk of catching an infection increases the more sex partners you have.
In addition, a recent study published in the journal PLoS Biology found a link between oral sex and a common vaginal condition called bacterial vaginosis or BV. It suggested that mouth bacteria can affect the microbes that live and grow in the vagina and contribute to the development of BV.
Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection. It is actually an imbalance of the usual bacteria found in the vagina. Usually, it doesn’t cause any symptoms, but some women who have it may get a strong-smelling discharge.
Women With Bacterial Vaginosis More Vulnerable To Catching STDs
BV is quite common among women. It may not seem serious as it doesn’t cause any severe symptoms, but it can make you more vulnerable to catching sexually transmitted diseases and getting urinary infections. If you’re pregnant, it increases the risk of premature birth.
How would you know if you have bacterial vaginosis? An unusual discharge that has a strong fishy smell is the most prominent sign of BV. You may also notice a change in the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery.
A swab test can determine if you have bacterial vaginosis or not. If you have it, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic tablets, gels or creams.
Who Is More Likely To Get Bacterial Vaginosis?
A healthy vagina usually has plenty of “good” bacteria called lactobacilli that keep it more acidic, with a lower pH. In bacterial vaginosis, this healthy balance is disrupted and other vaginal micro-organisms grow and thrive. Researchers are not clear as to what causes this imbalance, but certain factors can increase your chances of getting BV. These include being sexually active (but women who have not had sex can also get BV), having multiple partners, using intrauterine device (IUD) and perfumed products in or around your vagina.
Oral Sex And Bacterial Vaginosis: What Is The Connection?
The study in PLoS Biology suggested that Fusobacterium nucleatum, a common type of bacteria found in the mouth, may support the development of bacterial vaginosis. The mouth bacterium is linked with gum disease and dental plaque.
The research team from the University of California conducted experiments in human vaginal specimens and in mice to look at the bacterial behaviour. The mouth bacterium appeared to aid the growth of other bacteria implicated in BV, they said.
The findings concluded that oral sex might contribute to some cases of BV. Previous studies have also suggested that BV can be triggered by sex, including sexual intercourse between women.