Boynton says students unaware of oral sex dangers

A Boynton health educator said herpes is the biggest risk of unprotected oral sex.

Jamie VanGeest

Oral sex is supposedly a way for people to experience sex without the risks of vaginal or anal intercourse, but that is just one more sexual lie.

Most students at the University have engaged in unprotected oral sex without knowing the risks involved.

According to Boynton Heath Service’s 2004 Health Assessment Survey, out of the 75.3 percent of students who have engaged in oral sex, only 2.9 percent used a condom or dental dam.

“I think in college, people are more likely to experiment with their sexuality,” said postsecondary option student Meng Wang.

Dave Dorman, a health educator at Boynton Health Service, said “Condom use and dental dam use is low because people believe the risk (of contracting a disease from oral sex) is low.”

The biggest risk for unprotected oral sex is herpes, Dorman said. Two types of herpes can be contracted.

The first kind is oral herpes. Seventy percent of all people have this type of virus. When a person’s immune system is weak, the virus is expressed through cold sores in the mouth. Oral herpes can be spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.

The second type of herpes is genital herpes. Genital herpes can be spread from the genitals to the mouth through oral sex.

“It’s gotten to the point where everything just kind of meshes together,” said Dorman, “There is a lot of oral and genital herpes being passed back and forth.”

David Walsh, a lecturer at the University, said a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that more teenagers are engaging in oral sex at a younger age.

According to the CDC report, 55.2 percent of males between the ages of 15 and 19 have engaged in oral sex and 54.3 percent of females have.

“How common oral sex was in teenagers wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Walsh, who is also the author of national best-seller “Promise You Won’t Freak Out,” a book that addresses adolescent oral sex.

Walsh, who is also a psychologist, said two reasons oral sex is so common are media and sex education.

Walsh said 75 percent of teenagers say sex in the media influences their and their friends’ sexual norms.

“Also, the teenage brain is built to be interested in sex,” he said.

Teenagers are taught about the risks of vaginal or anal intercourse through sexual education in high school and assume that oral sex is a safer option, Walsh said.

The increase in oral sex among teenagers will subsequently increase the rate of oral sex among college students. The prevalence of oral sex distorts the notion of sexual intimacy, Walsh said.

Besides abstinence, condoms and dental dams are the best defenses against sexually transmitted infections.

One of the reasons some do not use dental dams is because of the taste of the latex, according to the Brown University Health Education Web site. But there are dental dams available in different sizes and flavors, such as mint, vanilla, strawberry, grape and banana.