HEALTH: ORAL EXAM

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“She thinks fellatio is a character in Shakespeare” – Cherry Falls (2000).

Just how much do you really know about the ancient practice of oral sex, more specifically, the delicate art of fellatio?

Fellatio or fellation, also known as a blowjob (BJ), giving head or sucking off, is the act of using your mouth or throat to pleasure a penis – your own (autofellatio) or someone else’s.

When contemplating giving or receiving a blowjob there is a mouthful of information worth considering:

Just getting started, it takes about two tablespoons of blood to get a man’s penis erect and a blow job is a fun way of speeding up this process.

The term blowjob actually dates all the way back to Victorian times when prostitutes were referred to as a “blowsy”, hence the logical progression of acquiring a “blowjob”. In some cultures oral sex is a taboo and in Japan the celebrated Geisha considered it a demeaning act.

Nowadays there is a common misconception that oral sex is more casual and less risky and that a person’s virginity remains intact after engaging in oral sex if there has been no penile vaginal or penile anal penetration. But the mouth may not be such a safe hole after all.

Whether or not you believe giving or receiving head constitutes having actual sex, there may be consequences to being generous and giving them out “willy-nilly”. In fact there is more at risk than just having a weak gag reflex and losing your lunch in your lover’s lap.

Blowjobs expose you to a number of diseases and infections. Here are some tips on what to look out for and how to be safer about popping a “lolly”.

Take a good look at the penis before you put it in your mouth. Look out for sores, blisters and warts. Similarly, don’t let a mouth with sores and blisters envelope your penis!

To date there is no confirmed medical record of anyone contracting HIV from oral sex but it is possible if the person performing the oral sex has cuts and abrasions in their mouths and/or bleeding gums and the person being blown is HIV positive and ejaculates into the other person’s mouth.

Some sores and blisters can be hidden from view and it may be awkward to ask your partner to open their mouth wide so you can take a look. There may be more at risk than just herpes or syphilis for example; your partner may have gonorrhoea in his anus that won’t exactly alert you of its presence. Mutual masturbation may be a safer option if you harbour any doubts.

Oral sex can put you at risk for syphilis, gonorrhoea (of the genitals and of the throat), warts (HPV), hepatitis A, gastrointestinal infections and parasites brought about by poor hygiene. If you are having oral sex regularly with different partners you should be getting tested every six months for syphilis.

Now that you have considered the risks involved you may want to score some pointers on how to improve your technique:

Remember, even though it is called a “blowjob” it is much more effective if you do the opposite and suck.

Not everybody was born with the “deep-throat” gene, so if you have a very sensitive gag-reflex place your hand around the shaft of the penis, to the point that you feel comfortable taking the penis into your mouth, and focus on the head of the penis. This way even if your partner gets excited and thrusts, you will be able to control how much of the penis you take into your mouth.

Generally speaking, using your teeth is a “no-no” and folding your lips over your teeth to resemble someone with their dentures removed may not look sexy, but it feels infinitely more comfortable. Take your time and experiment with flavoured lubricants to make the experience easier if you struggle with foreign objects in your mouth.

Being open to discussing what your partner enjoys and sharing your own preferences will help to enrich the experience even more.

Article supplied by Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute NPC funded by PEPFAR/USAID. The views in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funders. Health4Men supports sexual health services for MSM. For free screening and any information about your sexual health, visit your nearest Health4Men supported clinic, h4m.mobi (on your phone) or www.health4men.co.za.

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