How Can You Get a STD Without Having Sex?

Having sex is the most common way to get an STI or STD. It’s important to talk to a doctor or nurse about safe sex, and to ask about STI testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Did you know that some STDs can be spread through non-sexual contact? Things like kissing, oral sex, sharing towels and even sharing a drink can transmit diseases such as herpes and chlamydia.

1. Skin-to-Skin Contact

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause painful symptoms, infertility, and even cancer. They’re most commonly passed on through unprotected sex, but they can also spread through other means, including skin-to-skin contact, sharing towels, or eating contaminated food.

Many people assume that they can only get an STD through sex, but this isn’t true. Some STDs, like herpes and chlamydia, can be spread through casual kissing or oral sex. They can also be spread through contaminated blood, such as when someone shares razors or needles with an infected partner. They can even be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth or breastfeeding.

The good news is that you can protect yourself from getting and spreading an STI by practicing safe behaviors and using barrier devices during sex. You should also avoid skin-to-skin contact with any strangers, and you shouldn’t share personal items like towels, utensils, or sex toys. It’s also important to regularly wash your hands, especially after going to the bathroom or touching your genitals.

The most important thing is to get tested for an STD on a regular basis, regardless of whether or not you’re having sex. By doing so, you’ll be able to catch an infection early and take the necessary steps to treat it before it gets worse. You can get tested at home or at a professional STD testing center.

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2. Indirect Contact

STIs such as herpes and HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, even when there is no sex. This is particularly true for herpes, which can spread through casual kissing and can be transmitted to others even when the person doesn’t know they have herpes. The herpes virus can also be spread by sharing contaminated towels or by visiting an tattoo or piercing studio where equipment is not properly sterilized.

Similarly, infections like trichomoniasis can be spread through hand-to-genital contact or by touching an infected sex toy or pillow. The single-celled protozoan parasite that causes trichomoniasis loves damp fabrics and can live for up to an hour outside the body. These infections can also be spread through oral sex or by using an unwashed sex toy.

Other non-sexual ways to get STDs include getting infected with HIV or hepatitis through a contaminated blood transfusion or organ transplant, and passing on STIs to a baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Several infections, such as syphilis, can be spread through painless sores in the mouth or on the genitals and may remain dormant for years before causing symptoms.

You can also pick up an infection from an infected swimming pool, hot tub, or toilet seat, although this is not very common. The viruses and bacteria that cause STDs require specific conditions to thrive, and these are rarely found in non-sexual settings.

3. Sharing Towels

While STDs primarily spread through unprotected sex, there are other ways that bacteria, viruses, and parasites can get passed from one person to another. These include skin-to-skin contact, sharing sex toys, masturbation, and oral sex. In addition, some STIs can also be spread through the sharing of towels.

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While it is possible to catch an STD from a towel, this is extremely rare and only happens when an infected person’s open wound or body fluids come into direct contact with the towel. Additionally, most STDs cannot survive on a dry surface for very long, making it even less likely that they would be transmitted from a towel.

Having said that, it’s important to remember that it is always better to use your own personal towel rather than shared ones whenever possible. Using a single towel and washing it frequently can help to eliminate any potential pathogens that may be present.

Alternatively, disposable paper towels can be a great option for public restrooms and shared living spaces where people share towels often. This is a more hygienic and convenient alternative to cloth towels and can significantly reduce the risk of catching an STD from shared items. Also, by washing your towels regularly with hot water and detergent, you can greatly reduce the risk of contracting an STD. Moreover, by following good hygiene practices like using dental dams during oral sex and not kissing anyone who has an active outbreak of herpes or genital warts, you can further decrease your risk of acquiring an STD.

4. Eating Contaminated Foods

Although it’s more common to catch an STD through sexual activity, some infections spread without that. The herpes virus, for example, can be spread through oral sex and kissing. Other diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can spread by touching an STI-infected person’s hands or mouth. You can also get an STD by sharing a razor or other sharp object that cuts or pierces the skin, as well as through contaminated food and drink. Lastly, many blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C or B can be spread by sharing drug injection equipment or needles with an infected partner.

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Fortunately, you can lower your risk of getting an STI by always using protection during sex, practicing safe sex, and getting regular screening tests. You can also help prevent transmission by never sharing toothbrushes or other personal items and keeping your genital area clean. You should also use dental dams during masturbation and wash sex toys after each use.

Most STIs don’t cause symptoms in their early stages, which is why it’s important to get tested regularly. If you’re diagnosed with an STI, it’s important to start treatment right away to prevent the infection from spreading to your sex partners. Untreated STIs can lead to serious complications including infertility, organ damage, certain types of cancer, and even death. Practicing safe behaviors and staying informed about STDs can help you stay healthy.

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