Sex is definitely one of our favourite pastimes. That is, if one partner doesn’t um, ruin it by opening their mouth in the wrong way. Yep, when it comes to sex, our puckers play a starring role, whether we’re talking kissing, nibbling or getting busy a little further down. What we may not realize, though, is that our mouths also give us important clues about the status of our sexual health and satisfaction—if we’re listening.
Seeing signs that your sex life is taking a dive? Don’t want to pleasure yourself all the time? Here’s some news worth talking about: There are a few medical conditions that can kill the mood between the sheets. Any of these going on in your relationship? If so, you’ll want to know right now so you can do something to stop it.
6 WAYS YOUR ORAL HEALTH CAN RUIN YOUR SEX LIFE—and what to do about it
Snoring: The sexual buzzkill.
The number-one reason couples sleep apart is—you got it—snoring. And that’s a sex life downer because unlike other animals who are particular about where they sleep but not where they have sex, humans tend to do both in the bedroom. If your desire to stay in the same bed wins out, the resulting sleep deprivation that comes from sharing a bed with an obnoxious noise puts you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. One Mayo Clinic study found that secondhand snoring stirs sleep partners an average of 21 times an hour. That’s almost as often as the 27 times an hour a snorer with sleep apnea wakes up. Talk to your dentist and physician about ways to reduce snoring. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, but often it’s also a significant risk factor for the more serious condition of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Bad breath: Is it something I ate?
Nothing ruins a romantic moment faster than a slow lean-in for a kiss followed by a fast lean-out for a breath of fresh air. Short-term bad breath is usually caused by something you ate. But long-term bad breath means your oral or overall health is at risk. Sometimes bad breath is caused by an oral health problem, but others times, it could mean something more serious like yeast infections in the mouth, respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis, post-nasal drip, diabetes and gastrointestinal disturbances. If brushing, flossing and eliminating foods with strong odours doesn’t help, see your doctor.
Cold sores (aka Herpes): Yikes.
It’s an old joke but it’s not funny when it happens to you. What’s the difference between marriage and herpes? Herpes lasts forever. A cold sore is a blister that turns to a scab. It usually occurs on the lip or near where it is first contracted from another person, and is usually caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, which is highly contagious. If someone with a cold sore performs oral sex, this can spread HSV-1 to the genitals and cause herpes sores there. Unfortunately, there is no cure, only remedies for the relief of symptoms. The first episode is usually the worst. A “primary herpes onset” is often accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and/or fever. The itchy sensation means another blister is on its way and the whole process lasts about two weeks from start to finish.
Oral cancer and HPV: What to do.
It is estimated that by 2020, oral cancers from HPV will outnumber cervical cancers in the U.S. The risk of oral cancer does not increase simply from having sex but rather from transmission of certain high-risk types of HPV through intimate contact. Actor Michael Douglas is one such example, who said his cancer was caused by HPV, which can be contracted through oral sex. Smoking and drinking put you at an increased risk. Find out if you’re infected with HPV, get an oral cancer screening from your dentist, stop smoking/chewing, and drink in moderation. With oral cancer, if we find it early enough, the survival rate is approximately 83 per cent according to the American Cancer Society.
Erectile dysfunction: It’s a thing.
Did you know that Erectile Dysfunction is associated with gum disease? That doesn’t mean not flossing will make your man flaccid, but because there is a link, it’s one of the most convincing arguments for men to take good care of their teeth and gums. Erectile Dysfunction is a vascular issue. It’s all about blood flow to the penis. ED is affected by any medical condition that causes harm to the blood vessels, and gum disease or periodontitis, creates systemic inflammation, which sets fire to the lining of blood vessels. If you suffer with Erectile Dysfunction, see your dentist to evaluate you for gum disease.
Chapped lips: Not so sexy.
Puckering up is the universal sign for romance. But dry, sore, cracked lips do nothing for your love life—and they could mean more serious trouble from diabetes to autoimmune diseases. See your doctor or dentist if the problem persists for a few weeks and there is no obvious cause like cold weather, wind or sun. Remember, the best treatment is usually prevention. Maintain sun protection by repeatedly applying a lip balm with a minimum SPF of 15.
Tip: If sex isn’t what it used to be or if you are suffering with any of the signs and symptoms of these conditions, see your dentist or physician and get help. Some have a simple fix but others are much more serious. Regardless of the problem, it’s important to get treatment. You’ll be healthier and it might just put back the spice in your love life.
Dr. Susan Maples is one of the top eight innovators in U.S. dentistry and is author of Blabber Mouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You To Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life.