How do you get STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be transmitted in different ways. STIs can be transmitted during unprotected (without a dental dam or condom) sexual contact between two or more people. STIs can be transmitted through contact with skin, mucous membranes, pubic hair, vaginal fluid, pre-cum, semen and blood. This means that STIs are not always transmitted through penetration alone. Skin-to-skin contact, oral sex, and sexual activity using the hands can also transmit certain STIs. Knowing how STIs are transmitted can help you stay safe and aware of potential risks.

We will outline the different types of sexual contact and the transmission of STIs in this blog.

STI through oral Sex: oral-penile and oral-vaginal contact

It is possible to transmit STIs such as chlamydiagonorrhea, and syphilis during oral sex. These STIs will not cause symptoms or appear on an STI test immediately after exposure, which is why you have to take into account the different window periods per STI before performing a test. You can also contract genital herpes through oral sex if the partner giving oral sex has an oral herpes infection. You may only notice an infection if you begin to experience symptoms, such as bumps or painful blisters.

If body fluids (blood, breast milk, semen, pre-cum, rectal fluids, or vaginal fluids) have entered your mouth, there is a very small risk of contracting hepatitis B or HIV. While any contact between bodily fluids and mucous membranes or breaks in the skin (cuts or wounds) carries a risk of hepatitis B or HIV transmission, infections from oral sex are extremely rare.

STI through oral sex: oral-anal contact

Oral-anal contact (rimming) can transmit STIs and other bacterial infections, including hepatitis A, syphilis, and other intestinal pathogens. Other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can also be transmitted via this route.

Oral-anal contact (and any other oral sex) with a cold sore carries a high risk of herpes transmission and is therefore strongly discouraged. The chance of contracting HIV in this manner is very small, but it can occur through the exchange of body fluids through cracks and wounds in and around the mouth and anus.

STI through skin-to-skin contact

Some STIs can be transmitted by rubbing the penis against the vagina or anus without a condom, even if penetration does not occur. HIV can be transmitted when infected bodily fluids (blood, semen, pre-cum, or vaginal and rectal fluids) enter the bloodstream of someone without HIV.

STI through unprotected penetrative sex

If the penis enters the vagina or anus without a condom, there is a risk of STI transmission.

STI from sharing sex toys

Certain STIs such as chlamydia, syphilis, and herpes can be transmitted through sex toys if more than one person uses the toy without cleaning it in between. By cleaning the toy well in between uses or using it with separate condoms, you reduce the risk of transmitting STIs.

STI from fingering

Fingering usually does not carry a risk of spreading STIs. However there is a small risk of transmitting certain STIs if you have sores or cuts on your fingers when fingering someone. Furthermore, there is a small risk if pre-cum, semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from another person come in contact with your skin or mucous membranes during fingering. Washing your hands before and after sexual contact is a good way to prevent STI transmission between partners or transferring an existing infection to other parts of the body.

STI from needles and syringes

Some STIs are transmitted through blood, such as HIV and hepatitis B, and C.

This can happen when needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment are used more than once. STIs can also be transmitted through unsanitary needles for piercing, earrings, or tattoos. Using a new, clean needle every time is necessary to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

All HOMED-IQ content is reviewed by medical specialists