Q&A: Will Oral Sex Give Me Cancer?

Dear Shhhh,

Thanks a lot for you existence and the opportunity to ask you questions!

I would be grateful to gather your thoughts on the following:
I am not very experienced in sex and the past one year when trying to give blowjobs to my partner I keep getting really painful mouth ulcers. I am scared about the statistics that oral sex increases oral cancer. We don’t use condoms. He really loves it and I want to understand if I should do it less (I used to do it daily, being a fresh couple 😉 ) or maybe with an easier technique to relax myself more often or are there any hygienic precautions I should be aware off? We are both very monogamous and he does take care of cleanliness.

Thanks a lot.

Kind regards,

Hey X.

Thanks for your question. It’s not oral sex that increases your risk of cancer but HPV can. Ulcers can also be caused by coming into contact with the HSV-1 virus.

So the first thing we’d recommend is that you and your partner get tested!

Testing for HPV is not always recommended because it is so common but you should definitely consider getting screened for other STD’s especially if you’re not using protection. About 50-80% of adults have oral herpes, it’s not a major health concern in most cases but you should avoid having oral sex if you have a cold sore because it can be transmitted to the genitals.

On HPV, it has been linked to some types of oral cancer (although alcohol and smoking are bigger risk factors), however around 25% of mouth and 35% of throat cancers are HPV-related. So it a possible, if not likely, concern.

It’s not known how common HPV infection in the mouth is. A study carried out in 2009-10 concluded that the prevalence of oral HPV infection in American men was 10%, and in women 3.6%. Age and number of sexual partners can play into your chance of infection. Even so 90% of people will naturally clear HPV from their body within two years, so it’s unlikely to lead to cancer.

You may benefit from getting the HPV vaccine particularly if you are under 26; by 26 most women will have been exposed to some strand of HPV, although they may still benefit from the vaccine. It might be something to discuss with your doctor.

If you’rswirl-flavoured-lubese both healthy there is no real reason why giving oral should cause mouth ulcers, unless you’re biting or scraping the inside of your mouth.


Whatever you’re doing we highly recommend using condoms or dental dams for oral sex.

This is the best way that you can protect yourself, if you don’t like the taste of condoms try flavoured condoms or flavoured lube. 

Again we highly recommend that you and your partner both get yourselves screened for STD’s, it’s the best way to give you peace of mind or make sure you’re taking all necessary precautions.

Hope that answers your question, thanks so much for getting in touch and continue to enjoy frequent oral. If you’d like some tips on technique why not come along to one of our ‘Blow His Mind’ classes, for a friendly, informative guide to fellatio.

If you have any questions please send them to advice@sh-womenstore.com, if you’d like advice from our sex and relationship expert Sarah Berry please include the subject line ‘Ask Sarah’.

Team Sh! xxx

All names are changed for the purposes of anonymity.

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