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Can You Get an STD Without Having Sex?

Many people engage in foreplay and other sexual acts with the assumption that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can only be transmitted through penetration. If you’re not having vaginal or anal sex, you’re in the clear, right? Wrong.

Although sexual intercourse is a common way to contract or pass an STD, there are lots of other ways that STDs can spread – with no penetrative sex required. Even non-sexual contact can put you at risk.

We’re here to help you take care of your sexual health, and that includes knowing all the ways that STDs are contracted and spread – especially when traditional sex isn’t part of the picture.

STDs can spread through physical contact

Some STDs can spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. For instance, when your genitals or mouth touch their genitals, mouth, or anal area. Examples of skin-to-skin contact include:

  • Kissing
  • Fondling
  • Hand sex
  • Oral sex

Brief skin-to-skin contact sounds harmless enough, but one quick touch or kiss may be all it takes for certain viruses (such as herpes) to become your lifelong companion. Today’s bare-down-there grooming trends make transmission even more likely, since using a razor can easily break open skin, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter your body.

Hygiene also counts. If an infected person touches a sore or infected area and then touches your genitals, mouth, or eyes before washing their hands, you could get an STD.

STDs can also be transmitted or contracted through coming in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, such as:

  • Saliva
  • Menstrual blood
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Semen
  • Anal secretions

How does coming in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids happen without penetrative sex? Way easier than you think.

For example, many people don’t consider oral sex to be “real” sex, since there’s no penetration involved. But during oral sex, your lips, mouth, and throat come in contact with a number of bodily fluids. Participating in oral sex can easily transmit STDs if your partner’s penis, vagina, or anus are infected.

Which STDs can you get through physical contact?

STDs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact and/or the exchange of bodily fluids include:

  • Herpes
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis

STDs can spread through infected objects and surfaces

While most STD-causing viruses and bacteria don’t live outside the body for long, they can remain on certain objects and surfaces, such as:

  • Sex Toys: Avoid sharing sex toys unless they are properly cleaned. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’re less likely to get an STD if you thoroughly clean fluids off the sex toy between each use.
  • Needles: If you use needles to take medication (such as insulin for diabetes) or get a tattoo or piercing, make sure you always use a new sterilized needle. Never share needles with others, which can transmit blood-borne STDs like HIV and hepatitis.
  • Razors: Shaving often leaves small cuts or micro-tears on the skin, which are ideal places for viruses and bacteria to enter your body. If you share a razor with someone who has an STD, you could get infected through shaving cuts.
  • Toothbrushes: If you share a toothbrush with someone who has oral herpes, it’s possible to contract their herpes infection. You can also get a blood-borne STD if you both have cuts in your mouth or bleeding gums.
  • Contaminated fabrics: The parasite that causes one of the most common STDs, trichomoniasis, can live on damp fabric for up to an hour. Pubic lice (or “crabs”) can be spread through infested clothing, towels, and bedding – so share these items wisely.

Which STDs can you get from infected objects and surfaces?

STDs that are spread through infected objects and surfaces include:

  • Herpes
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis

How do I know if I have an STD?

Even if you’re vigilant about using condoms, you can still contract and spread STDs. Some STDs have no symptoms for months or years – making testing even more crucial. When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Abnormal or foul-smelling discharge
  • Genital itching or irritation
  • Sores, bumps, or warts in the genital area
  • Pain during sex or ejaculation
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain when urinating

STD testing near you

Whether you’re with a new partner or in a long-term relationship, it’s vitally important to know that you are safe. Untreated STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, organ damage, and other severe health concerns – and you can’t get treated if you don’t get tested.

vybe urgent care offers non-rapid STD testing at all locations. We also offer a rapid STD test at our Center City, PCOM, and University City locations (females only, $280 self-pay only). The rapid test checks for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis and provides results in just 30 minutes.

Visit vybe today

No sex? That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe from STDs.

All vybe centers have licensed medical professionals with a wide range of healthcare knowledge. Walk in or schedule an appointment at your local vybe urgent care today to get same-day STD testing and receive treatment if needed.