Cigarette smoke is strongly linked to several cancers including gynecological.

Are you worried that sex with a smoker could raise your risk of a reproductive malignancy?

Smoking is a risk factor for the following cancers:

• Cervical
• Vaginal
• Vulvar
• Ovarian

A woman who knows that smoking heightens risk of cancer for these organs may logically start wondering if engaging in sex with a smoker can cause something of a “third-hand” smoke situation leading to a gynecological cancer.

After all, a smoker has chemicals from the cigarettes circulating in his body that can impact the integrity of his sperm.

Plus, there’s the exchange of bodily fluids and skin-to-skin contact that a woman may worry about, not to mention inhaling residual smoke as a woman’s nose gets close to his body.

Sex with a Smoker: a Cancer Risk?

“The short answer is no,” begins Dr. Kate Killoran, OBGYN and medical advisor at Your Doctors Online, an online doctor chat site.

But this short answer of “no” comes with an asterisk.

“Being exposed to the bodily fluids of a smoker will not directly increase your risk of reproductive organ cancer,” continues Dr. Killoran.

“The more nuanced answer is possibly.

“Being a smoker does increase your risk of harboring HPV.”

HPV = human papilloma virus, which is heavily implicated in cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva.

Normally, a healthy body’s immune system will get rid of an HP viral infection.

But a smoker’s body – even if he works out at a gym – is STILL a smoker’s body. Smoking certainly can’t have NO effect on his body.

Dr. Killoran explains, “Probably due to smoking’s effect on your immunity, smokers are less likely to clear an HPV infection — and thus making it more likely that they will pass HPV on to a partner (if you are not vaccinated).

“High-risk HPV strains 16 or 18 are virtually always necessary for the development of cervical cancer.”

Thus, having sex with a smoker can increase your risk of contracting HPV from that partner. You certainly do not want HPV in your system.

But the intercourse itself, and the “third-hand smoke,” do not directly lead to the mutation changes that progress to cancer of the reproductive organs.

Dr. Killoran has a private practice and is also a health coach at drkatemd.com. Your Doctors Online offers a free 7 day trial: Ask a doctor questions and get answers in minutes from anywhere 24/7. Learn more here.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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