Do you know you can still contract some of the STDs even without having sex? You do not really have to be sexually active to catch a sexually transmitted disease. Before you dive into the specifics of how it is even possible, it is important for you to first understand a few terminologies. When it comes to ‘sex’, it generally means oral sex, anal sex, and penis-in-vagina sex. Penis-in-vagina is considered the only viable form of sex. However, there are a large number of people out there who have a whole lot of different concept and do not have sex this way. What people generally forget is that both anal sex and oral sex have ‘sex’ at the end.
As you broaden up the definition of sex here, but within that broader aspect of ‘sex’, there are still ways that you can contract sexually transmitted diseases without even doing it. While vaginal, anal, and oral sex are rather obvious means of contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases, as they involve mucous membranes and fluids, not all of these STIs and STDs requires these elements to spread. Some of these infections may spread via skin-to-skin contact, whereas others may spread through blood.
Some people have different concepts that if you rub against someone in a sexual way or touch another person’s fluids, you are automatically going to catch an STD. Nevertheless, in reality, you can only get infected with a sexually transmitted disease if the person you have had sexual contact with is already infected with one although there is no assurance that you will definitely catch it. While it is best to be on the side of the caution and use precautionary measures such as using condoms to protect yourself and even your partner(s), it is also crucial to counter the common message that all types of sex can and does make an individual sick.
Finally, sometimes the stigma around STDs is a lot higher than the actual, lived reality of contracting one. It certainly is not fun to consult a doctor and take medication for something you had on your genitals. But it is also not fun to consult a doctor and get treatment for a dumb or cold infection from a cut you did not take care of on your hand or an abnormal growth you have on your toe. You would definitely feel terrible about yourself when you have to deal with such things!
So, it is imperative that you take some time out and think about why you would feel awful in case you have contracted an STD? Would you judge someone else who has caught one? If you take into account the consequences of several sexually transmitted diseases, you will perhaps realize that the stigma of contracting an STI has more to do with the sex-negative culture we have around than it does with the ailments themselves.
Sexually Transmitted Infections You May Catch Without Having Sex
Below are some of the sexually transmitted infections that an individual can catch without having sex.
Herpes is quite common nowadays! The CDC estimates that 15.7% of Americans between the age group of 14 and 49 carry the HSV-2 virus, which is one of the most common causes of genital herpes. The HSV-1 virus, on the other hand, can also cause genital herpes, though it is most commonly associated with ‘cold sores’ or oral herpes. An estimated 50 to 80 percent of American citizens are HSV-1 positive. The National Institutes of Health estimates that approx. 90 percent of the U.S. citizens have been exposed to the HSV-1 virus by the time they reach the age of 50.
To conclude, a lot of people have herpes! One of the reasons herpes is extremely common today is because it spreads via skin-to-skin contact. It may also spread if an individual has a visible outbreak, as the virus may ‘shed’ cells without causing sores. This is why it is recommended to make use of condoms, as it helps reduce of risk of herpes virus transmission. However, if the virus is present on any other body part, which the condom does not cover such as lips, cheeks, bikini line, thighs, etc., it may even spread with condom use.
Although the Chlamydia STD can be contracted by both men and women, it can notably cause serious, even permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. If untreated, it may become difficult or nearly impossible for a woman to conceive.
Chlamydia usually spreads through sexual contact, however; oral-genital contact makes an individual catch Chlamydia even without having sex. If you or your partner has been diagnosed with Chlamydia, do not panic! The condition can be easily treated with the help of antibiotics.
Syphilis spreads by coming in direct contact with a syphilis sore, which perhaps is anywhere around the anus, genitals, in the rectum, vaginal, in or around the mouth. You just cannot catch syphilis if an individual with the syphilis infection does not have a current sore, but because they can easily hide inside the body, you may not always know that your partner has syphilis or not.
If syphilis goes untreated, it can lead to multiple organ failure, including the eyes, brain, and worst-case, even death. Fortunately, the infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it is not something to be taken lightly.
- Pubic Lice
Pubic lice are also called as ‘crabs’. This is because it appears to be like tiny crabs if examined under a microscope. These are small bugs that are found in the pubic hair. The infection spreads by rubbing against someone who already has them. This is a form of sexually transmitted infections that an individual may contract from dry humping!
HPV refers to ‘human papillomavirus’. It is another form of STD that can spread with skin-to-skin contact. There are literally more than 100 different types of this virus, around 40 of these can affect the genitals and the area around them. The virus can also infect your throat and mouth. As it is with the herpes virus, HPV can be diagnosed in nearly every sexually active individual at some point in their life.
Many people catch HPV and do not show any symptoms at all. However, the two different types of HPV virus, the 6 and 11 generally cause genital warts. Some forms of HPV virus, about a dozen, can cause cancer too, but most are due to type 16 and 18. The most common type is cervical cancer which is generally associated with HPV, but it may also cause cancer in the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, throat, and mouth.
Although sex is the most common way to spread HIV, it may also spread through skin-to-skin contact with the infected blood or via breastfeeding if the mother already has HIV. It is imperative to learn that simply by touching the infected blood will not result in catching the infection. There should be some contact between the infected blood and another person’s blood, for instance, sharing of a needle for injected drugs with someone who already is HIV positive.
- Hepatitis A
There are three different types of Hepatitis. It includes A, B, and C. Hepatitis A spreads through oral contact with fecal matter. So, if your sexual activity involves anal sex, the individual you are playing with has it, and you contract the virus in your mouth, you may catch Hep A.
- Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum is a sexually transmitted infection that is still not very common. However, it can spread even without having sex. Molluscum contagiosum is more like a skin infection that shows little flesh-colored bumps on the affected area. The infection spreads from skin-to-skin contact, including the skin on the genitals. Nevertheless, it can also be transmitted from any other body part where it is present or from ‘fomites’ that carries the virus.
Unlike herpes, which may not show any symptoms for years at a time, the molluscum contagiosum virus only stays on the surface of the skin. So, as the bump goes away, you are not at the risk of spread it to anyone around anymore.
Trichomoniasis is perhaps one of the most commonly occurring STD that people have hardly heard of. It is caused by a parasite that loves hanging out in sexual fluids. It can be spread through sex but also by touching your partner’s genitals with infected fluids on your hands, sharing sex toys, or through vulva-to-vulva contact. Just like herpes and HPV, an individual may not show any signs of Trichomoniasis, even if they are infected. However, some of the most common symptoms may include irritation of the vulva or urethral or vaginal infection.
These are some of the most common STDs that can be transmitted without having sex. Although you may have greatly lowered the risk of catching some of these infections by using precautionary measures like using condoms or dental dams. There is no way you can protect yourself 100% from skin-to-skin contact if you are sexually active. But, there is no way you can protect yourself 100% from the common cold, either. It is all about perspective!