Kissing can be a beautiful and passionate way to connect with your partner, but it also comes with a few hidden risks. Like sex, kissing can cause the spread of certain viruses and bacteria, and that is why there are certain times you should avoid puckering up. Consider the following:
The risks of mononucleosis. Did you know that mono (short for mononucleosis) is caused by a virus that is related to the herpes virus? It is known as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and once contracted it can lead to “the kissing disease,” aka mono. Mono is a highly contagious infection that can be spread through avenues other than kissing as well: If you share straws, utensils, bedding, makeup, or other personal items with someone infected with mono, you could also become infected. And, people with mono often don’t realize right away that they have it. Symptoms of mono include: swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, and sore throat. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mono, it’s very important to make sure that you do everything you can to avoid spreading the virus. That includes avoiding kissing…and maybe even avoiding sex. A 2006 study from the University of Edinburgh found that the Epstein-Barr virus could be spread during sexual intercourse and, like other sexually transmitted diseases, the risks could be cut down through the use of condoms. However, as with other STDs, condoms cannot protect you 100 percent, so it is a good idea to ask your doctor first to get the go-ahead.
The spread of herpes. Herpes can be spread through oral contact, including kissing and oral sex. There are two types of herpes, HSV-1 (oral herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes). Oral herpes are more commonly known as cold sores (and around 70 percent of Americans have them), and although it is possible for HSV-1 to spread to the genitals through oral sex, it is more commonly HSV-2 that is spread during sexual contact. A hundred million Americans have oral herpes, and while the sores are uncomfortable and unpleasant, they are not life-threatening. You can avoid spreading HSV-1 to your partner by not kissing or performing oral sex while you have a cold sore; however, keep in mind, you can still spread both HSV-1 and HSV-2 to your partner even when you aren’t having an outbreak. Talk to your doctor about ways you can cut down on your risk and stay safe while enjoying kissing and other activities with your partner.
Strep, flu, and the common cold. Along with herpes and mono, kissing can also spread viruses like strep throat, the flu, or the common cold. You can decrease your risk by making sure that you don’t kiss your partner when you are feeling ill and out-of-sorts, and by seeing your doctor not only when you’re sick but for annual well visits too to ensure that you are both healthy. Ultimately, kissing does come with some small risk, but provided you take precautions, there is no reason you can’t smooch the night away!
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