Scientists don't have a detailed understanding of the sexual activities in which mono can be transmitted. But they do know that the virus which causes mono can be found in saliva and genital secretions. It's quite possible that infection could be passed on during oral sex.
Mono, known to doctors as infectious mononucleosis, is usually caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms of mono include fatigue, fever, sore throat, head and body aches, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, swollen liver or spleen, and rash.
Studies have shown that the Epstein-Barr virus is produced in the saliva of persistently infected individuals, and that transmission probably occurs orally, through close contact with saliva during kissing.
The virus may also be found in semen and vagina fluids. Research has shown that young people with more sexual experience are more likely to have the infection. But studies have not specifically examined whether transmission occurs during fellatio or cunnilingus.
During active infection, the virus can be spread by using objects, such as a toothbrush or drinking glass that an infected person recently used. The virus probably survives on an object at least as long as the object remains moist. People who have mono should practice good hygiene, be careful when coughing, avoid sharing utensils, etc.
A person who has Epstein-Barr virus may be contagious for a period of several weeks or months. After that, the virus maybe inactive and the person is no longer contagious.
More on mono at TheBody.com
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In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about infectious mononucleosis in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Is oral sex dangerous with mono?
I'm having oral sex semi-regularly with my girlfriend and she has mono. Are there any dangers associated with oral sex when one or both partners has mono? I have heard that it is a form of herpes.
- HIV or mono, oral sex
I had oral sex with a guy and about a month later I had extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and fevers. My doctor says I have mono, but could it be HIV?
- Can oral sex give me mono?
Can someone get mononucleosis from either giving or receiving oral sex to or from someone who has the virus?
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