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Beware your sex toy could give you cancer!

Written by Nirmalya Dutta |Updated : August 11, 2014 10:06 AM IST

sexWomen might have the potentially cancer-causing HPV or human papillomavirus might be putting their partners at risk by sharing sex toys during sex, a new study suggest. Researchers gave 12 women two vibrators each and detected the virus immediately after use from all nine participants who tested positive for HPV.

Lead author Dr. Teresa Anderson, from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, said the small study is the first to examine whether vibrators could be transmitting the virus between sex partners. 'Sex toys used between partners within the same sexual encounter have the potential for transmitting HPV,' Anderson said.

'Cleaning the sex toy has the potential to decrease the amount of HPV DNA we can detect and so can potentially decrease the risk of transmission.' Genital HPV is the most common STD in the US and is often called common cold of the sexually active world.

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What is HPV?

HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus is an organism that causes sexually transmitted diseases. Known to cause genital warts, cervical and anal cancer, the virus can also lead to oral cancer. HPV is spread during unprotected sexual contact, mainly through the genitals. One of its most distinctive characteristics is that it has the potential to remain latent within a person's body for a number of years and the symptoms can manifest later.

Since HPV was found to cause cervical cancer in women, it has now become a common practice in a number of countries to get them vaccinated at a young age. Made of an attenuated (or weakened) strain of the virus, the HPV vaccine is recommended for all women over the age of 21 and under the age of 30. It helps to prevent infection, but cannot cure pre existing infections or cervical cancer. Doctors therefore recommend that the vaccine be administered before a girl is sexually active.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer has beaten breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in India; it kills around 33,000 women every year in India. Cervical cancer is known to occur because of a virus called theHuman Papilloma Virus (HPV) transmitted through sexual contact. Bad local hygiene, too many children, not enough spacing between children, low nutrition levels and early marriage all contribute to the risk factors. The high risk group includes girls who have had premature sex as teenagers, those who have had multiple pregnancies or multiple sex partners and don't use contraceptives. The disease remains asymptomatic for a long time till it starts invading neighbouring tissues.

Precancerous changes in the cervix may be treated with cryosurgery, laser surgery. Cryosurgery is a method in which a metal probe is cooled with liquid nitrogen and placed directly on the cervix. This freezes the abnormal cells and thus kills them. Laser surgery involved vapourising abnormal cells with a focused laser beam, directed through the vagina. This method is also used to remove a small piece of tissue for study.

The treatment options for women with cervical cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of two or more of these methods. The choice of treatment depends mainly on how big your lesion is, whether your cancer has spread and whether you would like to become pregnant someday. Radical trachelectomy is an option is for women with small tumors who plan a pregnancy later on. It allows them to be treated without losing their ability to have children. The surgeon removes the cervix, part of the vagina and the lymph nodes in the pelvis. Hysterectomy: In total hysterectomy the cervix and uterus are removed. In radical hysterectomy, the cervix, some tissue around the cervix, the uterus and part of the vagina are removed. Women no longer have menstrual periods after a hysterectomy and cannot become pregnant. Menopause occurs at once when the ovaries are removed.

After the treatment have regular check-ups after treatment for cervical cancer. Check-ups may include a physical exam, Pap tests and chest x-rays. Any changes in your health are noted during check-ups and treated if needed. It's important for you to eat well and stay as active as you can.

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