ACOG tells clinicians to address noncoital sex risks

October 1, 2008

Because noncoital sex, including mutual masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex can increase the high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, it is important that clinicians ask direct questions about their patients' noncoital sexual activity and provide risk reduction counseling, according to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Because noncoital sex, including mutual masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex can increase the high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, it is important that clinicians ask direct questions about their patients' noncoital sexual activity and provide risk reduction counseling, according to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The committee members reviewed recent research showing that up to 88% of women and 90% of men aged 25 to 44 have engaged in noncoital sex. They also presented evidence showing that noncoital sex can spread HIV, herpes simplex virus, HPV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, chancroid, shigellosis, salmonellosis, and other enteric infections.

The committee urged clinicians to ask their patients if they engage in noncoital sex, whether they have it with men, women, or both, or if they have multiple partners. They recommended counseling on correct and consistent condom use during anal and vaginal sex, and on risk-reduction strategies such as abstinence, mutual monogamy, limiting the number of partners, and STD testing before engaging in sex with a new partner.

“Great efforts are needed to educate health-care practitioners and the public regarding the potential health risks of noncoital sexual activities and the importance of risk reduction and barrier methods of protection,” the authors conclude. “Ultimately, additional research is needed to determine the full impact of noncoital sexual activity on the health of patients.”
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 417: addressing health risks of noncoital sexual activity. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:735-737.