Dr Kema Onu, a reproductive health expert, has warned that the practice of oral sex increases the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Onu, who is the Site Coordinator of Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an international NGO, gave the warning in an interview in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, oral sex is when someone puts his or her lips, mouth or tongue on a man’s penis, a woman’s genitals, including the clitoris, vulva or the anus of another person.
Onu said most STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis could be spread through oral sex.
“Herpes is a common STI, which can result to ulcer in the anus; that is why oral sex is not always accepted.
“An individual could transmit what is in the anus down to the mouth and result to oral herpes,’’ Onu said.
However, he explained that the chances of giving or getting STIs during oral sex could be lowered by using a condom.
Onu pointed out that the human body was filled with billions of micro organisms with different bacteria resident in various parts of the body.
“The bacteria in the mouth is different from the ones in the ear or any part of the body.
“The ones in the mouth is called commensals, they naturally live in the mouth. If in any case the bacteria in the mouth finds its way to another part of the body it becomes pathogenic and affects one,’’ he explained.
Onu said that diagnosis of STIs was very difficult, as they evaded the immune system and would only be noticed after they have caused damage to the system.
“STIs have mechanisms for invading our natural immune system yet some of them do not have vaccines,’’ he said.
Besides, Onu explained that most STIs were treatable while some have no cure, such as herpes, genital warts and HIV.
The coordinator said that many STIs could lead to related conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer and complications in pregnancy as well as socio-economic consequences.
He said the treatment of most infected women with such infections would drastically reduce the chances of transmission in the environment.
“The most common of the infection is syphilis; women have a higher chance of contracting STIs from men than from women to the men.
“Every woman experiences a vagina discharge but it is important to know if the discharge is normal or abnormal.
“When a woman begins to experience a foul smell in her discharge, itching, watering in texture that one have to use a pad, such is abnormal.
“However, normal discharge is white while an abnormal is pinkish, yellowish or greenish in colour,’’ he said.
The coordinator, however, said that early diagnosis, curative or suppressive therapy and promotion of safer sexual behaviour were some measures to prevent transmission.