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, 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.

What the Hex!? Our Thoughts on Lelo in Bed with Charlie

What the Hex!? Our Thoughts on Lelo in Bed with Charlie

At a glitzy, science-themed affair last night, Lelo launched HEX; A re-engineered revolution in penis-wear, the first in 70 years, according to the white-coated beautiful people demonstrating the chequered condoms at the Lelo lab.

So named, presumably because the hexagonal design that’s layered within the latex; Something clever to do with physics that creates a super-strong and ultra- thin molecular structure, which means you can stick pins in HEX condoms and the puncture is contained (which seems a worrying innovation in false confidence to us). Still, you can fill HEX with water and squish them around and they spring back miraculously into shape – rather than burst like normal condoms (a blow to water-bomb makers everywhere).

But one wonders though if Lelo brand managers have properly researched the full meanings of HEX?

Because to put a hex on someone is not a good thing. And by employing Charlie Sheen as HEX ambassador, Lelo have clearly hexed themselves.


An outpouring of blogs from respected fellow sex-educators from Cara Sutra, Marvy Darling and Dangerous Lilly, plus tweet-challenges from @VioletBlue @kittystryker and a *WHOLE* lot more, have put something of a backlash on Lelo’s controversial condom champion.


As the UK’s foremost feminist, sex-positive store, creating innovative events such as Café V with @MyBodyBackProj, why would we even grace such a cynical PR stunt using an alleged woman-abuser?


For those not around in world of old-school sex toys, you may not get the enduring affection we feel for Lelo, despite perhaps recent dodgy moves. For ten long years, from when we burst onto the male-dominated scene in 1992 until Lelo came along in 2002, we were alone in our message that women deserved great quality toys, that spoke to their sexuality, their bodies and their aesthetic. It was lonely and difficult. We struggled to find female-pleasing toys for our customers and those we did find, we had to re-package out of their porn-ridden packaging.


We remember taking a call from fledgling Lelo, before they’d even launched, asking our advice about what appeals to women and when we were introduced to their first ever vibrator, Lily, we pretty much swooned with joy! A sensual lay-on shape, designed specifically for clitoral pleasure, beautifully packaged and best of all the first ever vibrator to be coated in silicone. We’d been making silicone dildos for the past 8 years and harping on about its superior sex-toy material qualities but until Lelo came along, silicone was resolutely ignored by vibrator-makers in favour of the phthalate-ridden cheaper alternative of PVC.

In the history of sex toys there lies a seismic line that divides everything into pre-Lelo and post-Lelo.

We’ll always have respect for our fellow pioneers who don’t just break the mould but completely smash it!

Which is why we decided to reserve judgment.  So, we popped on our glad-rags and joined the throng, paps and splattering of reality TV stars (which we weren’t savvy enough to recognize, let alone get photo’s of – sorry!)  to go and get our heads around Lelo sidling into bed with Charlie.


Certainly he has helped sell over 300,000 HEX condoms within 3 days, so, whilst Lelo’s ambassador choice may not be diplomatic, it’s certainly worked in terms of exposure – proof that all publicity is indeed good publicity ( at least in terms of shifting units)

After we’d sampled the laboratory-inspired cocktails, nibbled on microscopic canapés (maybe taking the science-theme a bit far there Lelo, as coming straight from work – we hungry!!) and been somewhat baffled by the word ‘respect’ carved on the base of the 6 foot HEX ice sculpture…hex-ice-sculture



It was time to be officially introduced and Dr Christian Jessen (@DoctorChristian) gave an inspiring and compelling presentation – now there’s an impressive and passionate ambassador for sex positivism and safer-sex.  Dr-Christian



Followed by a  film featuring CS full of uncomfortable pauses focussing on his HIV status.

And here’s a thing (maybe not *the* thing, but a thing certainly) Charlie Sheen is one of the most famous men to come out with HIV. His fame has been used to highlight an important issue, If you’ve every supported a friend through such a diagnosis, or if you were there two decades ago when HIV stigma, ignorance and apathy killed a whole generation of our gay brothers, then you’ll know this is not something to dismiss.

We’re hearing quite a bit of HIV-shaming with regards to Mr Sheen and can’t condone that.

But nor can we align or condone his well-publicised and totally unacceptable behaviour. Nor, more importantly ignore it.

Any innovation in condom design that makes men more inclined to wear them is something we’ll clearly support, which is why we will stock HEX.

But the Lelo goodie bags, containing LELO TIANI 24K GOLD (RRP £249)  we’ve decided to auction to raise funds for our local woman’s refuge.

Hex launch Lelo Tiani Auction in aid of women's


So thank you very much Charlie, for giving us the opportunity to make some small contribution to the victims of domestic abuse.

Advice Anal Play & Pleasure

Enhancing Anal Play and Pleasure

Before you get down to some really pleasurable anal play, there are a few things to think about, so here we’ll take you through what you may need to stock up on before heading in through the back door…

Lubricant is essential to ensure ALL your anal play is pleasurable

Lube is the most important thing when it comes to a pleasurable anal experience – a necessity.  The anal canal isn’t self-lubricating, meaning that the necessary moisture needs to be added – by you.

Many customers come to us, asking if anal play “has” to hurt, and we always give the same answer: anal play should not be painful at all. It should only be pleasurable.

When asking these customers, we usually find they all have one thing in common: they don’t use lube. (dry friction – no wonder it hurts, peeps!)

Lashings of lube will make all anal pleasure, with or without toys  so much more comfortable and sensual. It also ensures that everything stays nicely slidey, throughout the long, slow journey of anal arousal (if you’re going too fast, no wonder it hurts peeps!)

Here, we have two options for you:

Silicone Lube is slick and long-lasting for the slow pace of arousing anal play....
Silicone Lube is slick and long-lasting for the slow pace of arousing anal play….

Silicone lubricant for anal play

Silicone-based lube is great for skin-on-skin play; when you use fingers or a penis, or if you use sex toys made from glassplastic, or steel. It is slick and long-lasting, and a little goes a long, long way…

Silicone lube is also perfect for anal play in the bath or shower – which is a good place for beginners to anal sex to start their journey as many people are hesitant around ‘feeling clean’.  Water will wash away regular lube.

It’s worth noting that silicone-based lube could damage the surface of any silicone toys you may have, so we recommend covering these toys with condoms if you opt for silicone lube.

Sh! Pure Plus (£10) Paraben-Free Thick Anal Lubricant
Sh! Pure Plus (£10) Paraben-Free Thick Anal Lubricant

Water-based lubricant for anal play

Choose a thick, viscous water-based lube for anal play

The thicker, the better! It will coat fingers, penises and toys much better than runny versions.

Customers often ask how much lube they should add, and our reply is always this: Add as much as you think. Then add a bit more!

Water-based lubes are very body-friendly, and work well with any toys  you have. Water-based lube evaporates/sinks into the skin, so you’ll have to reapply, or reactivate your lube with a  couple of drops of water or saliva, which works just as well.


A word about anal enhancers and why you should never use anal numbing products…

Intimate Organics Anal Relaxant £18
Intimate Organics Anal Relaxant £18

Here at Sh!, we do not sell any products designed to numb the anal area.

We have many customers asking for these (it’s that old ‘anal sex always hurts’ myth again!) but we always explain why using anal numbing creams or sprays could actually be harmful.

The anal canal is very delicate and the skin there easily torn.  Pain is your body’s  way of staying ‘stop’ or ‘slow down’. If you have numbed your body (with a special numbing product, or with alcohol or drugs) you will be unaware of being hurt. Staying present and in-tune with your body’s sensations is the only way to safely enjoy anal sex.

What we offer instead, are anal enhancing sprays, which are naturally formulated to relax the anus for easy penetration, whilst still keeping the bottoming partner fully aware of all sensations in their tush.


Pasante Extra Condoms (£7)
Pasante Extra Condoms (£7)

Using Condoms for Anal Play

Using condoms is a great way to take care of any hygiene-worries you may have. Also, a necessity, for safer-sex. .

Because of the delicate skin in the bum,  anal sex with an uncovered penis is the easiest transmission route of many STI’s. Pasante Extra, are specially created for anal sex; extra lube for friction-free moves and extra thick latex for a strong barrier.

Whether for safer-sex purposes or not, using condoms for anal sex makes clean-up a doddle:  just whip the condom off and dispose of. Easy peasy!



Using Latex Gloves for Anal Play – Turns fingers into smooth operators…

Black Latex Gloves
Black Latex Gloves £4 for 10

Using latex gloves for anal sex (or non-latex gloves, if you are allergic) not only easy, but also very sexy.

Snapping on a glove and drizzling some lube over your gloved-up fingers can be a hot image, raising anticipation of things to come..

It  can also add frisson to kinky medical role-play…

They also make a sexy barrier, if you are a bit squeamish about probing your partner’s tush…

Gloves are essential if you have long nails (long nails and delicate tushies don’t go together), nails that aren’t smooth (ouch!) or if you are concerned about hygiene (easy to whip off and dispose of).

If you have long nails, it’s a really good idea to pop some cotton wool into each finger of the glove  before putting it on. This will protect your nails – and your partner’s bum!

If you’re not keen on wearing  whole glove, you could easily cut the latex fingers off, and cover your own fingers with them – finger cots!


Using Dental Dams for Anal Oral Sex (aka Analingus or Rimming)

Latex Dam (£2) for anal oral sex, aka 'rimming'
Latex Dam (£2) for anal oral sex, aka ‘rimming’

Dams are squares of latex (also available in non-latex, if you are allergic) that you place over your partners bits to perform oral sex through. They are a barrier, much like condoms and can be used for vaginal as well as anal pleasure – though always  use a new dam, each time.

The offical word for anal oral sex is analingus, but it’s more commonly called  ‘rimming’.

Rimming is when you pleasure your partners anus with your lips and tongue. It may sound shocking to some, but the anus has tons of nerve-endings, just begging to be licked, kissed and touched, and this can be intensely pleasurable.

Drizzle a touch of lube on to your partner’s side of the dam before placing it over their anus – this will make your licking feel moist and sexy – just like your tongue!

So there’s the run-down on the essentials (lube!), as well as additions to pleasurable anal play, but if you’d like any tailored advice or recommendations, please feel free to drop us a line at and we’ll answer you.

We may also share Q&A’s so others may benefit, but if we do it will always be anonymous, with nothing left in to identify you – promise!

Different Types of Safe Sex Supplies

We are always being told to rubber up before jumping in the sack, but many people are still in the dark about the different types of protection there are available protect you and your partner(s) from STI’s ( sexual transmitted infections).

Safe-sex advice often focuses on keeping safe during intercourse and anal sex and certainly these are the more riskier types of sex,   but sexual health is also important for lesbians, which is why we stock a range of safe sex supplies; not just condoms, but also  dams and gloves – to keep you covered, whatever your sexuality or preferred sexual activity.


Condoms are the cornerstone of safer-sex play and are the most widely used form of protection.

Use a fresh, new condom and lots of water-based lube every time you have penetrative sex (whether vaginal or anal), anytime going from back to front ( ie going from anal to vaginal) and anytime you share a sex toy.

Using a condom will protect both you and your partner against the majority of sexually transmitted infections.

Condoms, such as Pasante Extra condoms are  designed especially for anal play as they are thicker than your average condom and more resistant to breaking or tearing.

Using lube enhances glide ( and sensitivity!) - protecting safe-sex supplies from splitting or tearing
Using lube enhances glide ( and sensitivity!) – protecting safe-sex supplies from splitting or tearing

Many condoms are already lubricated but using extra lube on the outside further protects the condom from splitting as well as enhancing glide.

Putting a little lube inside the teat of the condom also enhances sensation for him but you only need a tiny drop to do the trick ( going overboard can mean the condom can slide off him altogether!)

Make sure you use proper lube and never( ever!) any moisturizers you have to hand, such as massage, baby oils or body lotions. Not only are they likely to  contain perfumes and chemicals that are irritating to delicate genital tissue, they are likely to contain mineral oils, which can degrade latex quickly, causing the condom to split.


Condoms can spice-up sex, as well as keep it safe…

Condoms can spice up sex added textures or stimulating sensations
Condoms can spice up sex added textures or stimulating sensations

As well as regular condoms, which come in Trim / Narrow-Fit , Large & Extra thin for added sensitivity, there’s also some great condoms to not just protect but also to add extra thrills to rubbering-up;

  • For extra stimulation, there’s Ribs & Dots Condoms which are textured on the outside to deliver extra stimulation
  • Heat things up  with stimulating condoms such as Pasante’s Climax Condoms . These specially ribbed condoms are coated in warming or cooling lubricants to enhance sensation.
  • Durex Mutual Climax Condoms are lubricated with a delay-infused ingredient to slow him down whilst the textured surface delivers more stimulation for you…
  • Flavoured condoms are best used for blow-jobs and make a tasty treat of oral sex.


A Dam is a safer-sex shield used for oral sex

Using a dam, when going down on her, aka cunnilingus ( oral-vaginal play) or for rimming aka anilingus (oral-anal play)

Don’t go down on someone who has an obvious outbreak of Herpes, or if you have a cold sore.  And visa versa…

The Herpes virus can cross between mouth and genitals, so unprotected oral play with a person carrying the virus could potentially result in a cold sore, or genital herpes outbreak.


Dental Dam Lube up the side of the dam that will come into contact with your lover’s vulva  or anus to enhance sensation and glide..
Our dams come in latex-free or flavoured varieties.


Latex Gloves are great multi-purpose safer sex accessories.

Gloves are great safe-sex supplies, transforming hands into super-sleek playthings...
Gloves are great safe-sex supplies, transforming hands into super-sleek playthings…

Small cuts on the hands, hang nails, those who bite their nails – there’s lots of reasons why to cover-up hands and protect yourself and your lover against possible transmission routes for viruses or bacteria.

Gloves are perfect for all manual sex play, and especially for fisting and anal play, where they turn hands into sleek playthings.

And there’s another benefit to using gloves; unlike skin, they don’t absorb lubricant so maintaining a sensual glide is easier with glove-covered mitts. Adding lots of water-based lubricant, transforms your hands and fingers  into incredibly slippery tools of pleasure!

Gloves are also great if you have particularly long nails, which might hurt or cut your partner. TIP:  Pop little balls of cotton wool into the fingertips of the glove, to protect the glove from tearing and give a cushioned effect for the receiver.

I’m allergic to latex – can I still have safer-sex?

Yes you can! We carry latex-free dams, latex-free gloves and non-latex condoms  for those with latex allergies. Latex allergy can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening.


Having the ‘safe sex’ talk

Pasante Single CondomSavvy women don’t expect a partner to sort out the safe-sex stuff, but do it themselves, by carrying a dam or condom, along with a sachet of lube, in their bags, just in case!

But safe-sex isn’t just about having and using the right supplies.

Talking about safer sex will help you make choices together and open up the conversation about sex; your likes, dislikes and like-to-try’s, which is a great basis for a GREAT relationship.

It’s best to start the conversation before you hit the bedroom, as once you’ve got to the heat of the moment, it can be really difficult to put the brakes one and bring up the condom-convo.

You might feel a bit awkward at first, but you’ll feel much more at ease knowing you’ve got the right type of protection.

It would be so disappointing (and potentially very painful) to find out your new partner has a latex allergy, when all you have is latex condoms and dams.

We aren’t going to show you lots of pictures of infected genitalia – they are not pleasant, and many images are plastered over the internet anyway…a quick search will show you all you need to know!

What we do want to share is that all unprotected sex can be risky, albeit there are different risk levels for different types of play.

Although the risk of HIV infection is lower in lesbian sex than heterosexual or gay male partners, there is still the possibility of contracting a STI so always be sure to practice safer sex, whatever your sexuality.

We urge everyone to get tested regularly and rubber up with new partners, because taking control of your sexual heath and well-being is really sexy.