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Anonymous on September 7, 2011

Can genital warts infect the throat after oral sex?

My boyfriend and I both have HPV. I performed oral sex on him two days ago and today I noticed white spots on the back of my throat. He doesn’t have any visible warts on his penis. Could HPV be the cause of the white spots on my throat? How do I get rid of them? What precautions should we take during sex?

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 7, 2011

You’ve asked some great questions.

First, it’s unlikely that human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for the white spots on your throat...especially because it’s just been two days. Although the types of HPV that cause genital warts could infect your throat, that’s not very likely to happen in the timeframe you describe. It’s much more likely that you have strep throat...but only your regular doctor can provide a definite diagnosis, so I suggest you make an appointment as soon as possible.

That said, if you and your partner both have HPV, you should take some precautions during sex. First,if either of you has visible warts, it’s a good idea to not have sex until they’ve been treated. Second, you should use a latex condom or dental dam each and every time you have oral sex, and use a condom when you have vaginal or anal sex. Why?

A lot of couples share HPV, especially if they’ve been together for some time. But partners don’t always have the same type of HPV, and/or their infections can clear up at different times. Using “barrier” protection methods helps allow each of your bodies to deal with the virus in its own way, to where it can go into so-called “remission” (no symptoms).

Using a condom during oral sex is also important because ⎼ if your boyfriend happens to have the type of HPV that causes cancer, and you perform oral sex on him ⎼ there’s a risk that you could get HPV in your throat.

Some research suggests that HPV contributes to throat cancer later in life, especially if you’re a smoker. This is relatively rare, but it’s still a good idea to use a condom when you give your boyfriend a blow job.

Don’t forget that you’re also at risk for other STDs when you perform oral sex...for example, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re worried about one STD ⎼ or already infected with an STD, including HPV ⎼ it’s a good idea to get tested for other STDs, too. And if you do test positive for something else, you’ll be able to take appropriate precautions early, and get the right treatment so you can stay healthy. For more information about STD risks and testing, take a look at our Expert Guide to STD Basics.

Thanks again for writing. No doubt, your question has also helped other readers with similar concerns.

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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