Many people don’t realize that STDs can be passed through non-sexual contact. You can catch some STIs like herpes, genital herpes and chlamydia through contact with bodily fluids, which happens when you kiss or have oral sex.
You can prevent STIs by using latex condoms and taking medicine that kills sperm. But you can also get an STI without having sex, including through indirect contact and sharing items.
1. Skin-to-Skin Contact
While it’s common to associate STDs with sexual activity, the truth is that there are many ways you can get them. Some STDs can have uncomfortable or even no symptoms, and others can cause serious complications, like infertility, so it’s important to know all of the facts about STI transmission.
It’s possible to spread some STIs, like herpes and HIV, without any sexual contact at all. These viruses and bacteria can spread through skin-to-skin contact, like kissing or sharing a toothbrush or a sponge. Some STIs can also be spread through indirect contact, such as eating from an infected plate or drinking out of unwashed straws or cutlery.
Indirect contact is less common than direct contact, but it can still be a way to get an STD. Infections that are spread through indirect contact include herpes (both Type 1 and Type 2), chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, hepatitis A, hepatitis C, and HPV. Infections that are spread through indirect contacts are spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva or vaginal secretions.
Using a condom during oral, anal, and vaginal sex is the best way to prevent the spread of STIs. It is also a good idea to practice safe masturbation, use dental dams to reduce the amount of bodily fluids you come into contact with, and to clean your sex toys frequently. It is also recommended to only have sex with a partner that has been tested for all STIs, knows their results, and has agreed to be in a mutually monogamous relationship.
2. Indirect Contact
While sexual transmission is the most common way to get an STI, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Indirect contact can also spread STIs, including herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. These infections can cause a variety of symptoms, from uncomfortable and itchy sores to infertility.
If you’re worried about getting an STI, it’s important to visit a Rapid STD Testing clinic in your area. Our team can help you order tests and provide support throughout the process of screening and treatment. Many STIs require immediate treatment and should not be ignored.
It’s often a surprise for people to learn that it’s possible to contract an STD without having sex. Some people assume that sex is the only way to catch an STD, but this isn’t true. STIs can be transmitted through oral sex, kissing, sharing contaminated food and more.
Some STIs can be spread through blood transfusions, but this is only likely to occur if there are strict screening and testing requirements in place for people who donate blood. It’s also possible to get a herpes outbreak from sharing a toothbrush, razor or other personal item. And the bumpy genital infection molluscum contagiosum can spread through skin-to-skin contact and by sharing contaminated surfaces like tanning beds. For more information on the different ways to get an STI, visit our comprehensive guide.
3. Sharing Towels
It’s easy to assume that sexually transmitted diseases can only be spread through unprotected sex or skin-to-skin contact, but this is not always the case. Many STIs, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, and hepatitis B and C can also be spread through indirect contact with contaminated objects. This can include things like kissing, sharing food, using dirty towels, and even blood transfusions.
While it is a less common route of transmission, some STD pathogens (such as gonorrhea and chlamydia) can survive on contaminated surfaces for a brief period of time. Likewise, parasitic infections such as trichomoniasis can be spread by sharing towels that have been used by someone infected with the infection.
To prevent the transmission of STIs through towel sharing, it is recommended to wash and change towels frequently. Additionally, disposable towels are a convenient option in public restrooms or shared living spaces, as they can be easily disposed of and will reduce the risk of STD transmission. However, it’s important to note that the production and disposal of disposable towels can have negative environmental impacts. It’s also important to avoid touching the eyes or genital area with a contaminated towel. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including itching, burning, painful urination, and discharge. In addition, it’s best to use a clean towel after going to the bathroom to prevent transmission from body fluids.
4. Sharing Food
While sharing food might not be the most common way to pass on STIs, it is possible. Many infections that are technically STDs like herpes, HIV, and hepatitis B can spread through indirect contact with bodily fluids. STIs can also be transferred from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
Sharing towels and bedding with an infected person is another way that STIs can be transmitted without sexual contact. Viruses and bacteria that cause STIs, like herpes and hepatitis C, love damp fabrics and can hang out there for an hour or more, waiting to find their next host. They can also hitch a ride from one hand to the other or even onto genitals if a person uses a dirty sex toy.
It is very important to use condoms during sex, but many people believe that they can safely kiss without using a condom. However, it is possible to contract syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia through deep, wet kissing as well. The herpes simplex virus is often present in the mouth or throat of an infected individual, and syphilis can be transmitted to a partner by shaking their hands or drinking from contaminated water. It is also very important to prioritize monogamous relationships and get tested for STIs regularly, especially if you have any symptoms.