4 Things You Didn't Know About Oral Sex

The truth about oral sex, from cancer risk to what teens say about it.

By Martin Downs, MPH
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Marina Katz, MD

People who came of age before the Clinton years can remember when oral sex still seemed edgy, even taboo. Now, we're as likely to hear about oral sex on the evening news as on late-night TV.

National statistics show that most Americans have some experience with oral sex, beginning in the early teen years. Almost half of teens and almost 90% of adults aged 25-44 have ever had oral sex with someone of the opposite sex, according to a CDC survey done between 2006 and 2008.

Oral sex can be an enjoyable, healthy part of an adult relationship. But there are some things that many people don't know about oral sex. Here are four facts that might surprise you.

1. Oral sex is linked to throat cancer.

Cancer? Yes, you can get throat cancer from oral sex, says American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley, MD.

It's not oral sex, per se, that causes cancer, but the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be passed from person to person during sex, including oral sex.