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Questions and Answers

Can I Get an STI Without Having Sex? Through Kissing?

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Some STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can be spread without having sex, but the risk is much lower. An STI can spread from one person to another in a few different ways. Some STIs are spread through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Others spread through skin-to-skin contact in activities like dry humping and kissing. It’s also important to know that one partner needs to have an STI for the other partner to get it. It can help to know your risks and how to lower them!

Can I get an STI with my clothes on?

Many STIs move through direct contact with someone’s genitals, blood, or sexual fluids. Some others also spread through skin-to-skin contact without sex. If you have clothes or underwear on, there’s very low risk of getting an STI by touching someone.

However, parasitic STIs  like crabs (pubic lice) and scabies can also spread through contact with the clothing, underwear, or towels of someone who has them. Common symptoms are itching and inflammation.

Both are easily curable, and you just need to ask a pharmacist for the right shampoo or cream.

Can I get an STI through kissing?

It’s possible to get a few STIs from kissing, but the risk is low. It’s possible to transmit herpes, especially if someone has an open sore on their mouth or they feel a tingling that means one is coming. There’s a small risk for STIs that can live in your throat, like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Overall, kissing is a safe act. However, it’s possible to get other infections from kissing, like the flu, a cold, mono, or strep throat. So when one partner isn’t feeling too great, it might be a good idea to wait until both of you feel better.

Can I get an STI through naked contact but no sex?

Since some STIs can spread through skin-to-skin contact, you can get STIs by touching someone without clothes on. Crabs, scabies, herpes, HPV, and syphilis can spread through touch.

This is especially true if your genitals touch or you have oral sex. But, there’s some risk from masturbating each other, especially if you have cuts or sores on your hands or you touch your vagina, penis, or anus right after. You can lower this risk by using disposable gloves and washing your hands right after.

What if we touch or rub our private parts together?

If you rub parts like vaginas, penises, or anuses together, there’s a risk for STIs that are spread through skin or fluids. This is because partners can swap things like pre-cum and vaginal fluid.

This is considered a moderate to high risk for STIs, and it’s higher if someone ejaculates or there’s more fluids. There’s also a risk for pregnancy if semen gets on the opening to a vagina. You can lower lower your risk for both by leaving underwear on or using condoms, even if there’s no penetration.

Also know that rubbing these parts together can easily heat up and turn into other kinds of sex. You can lower your risk and be prepared by using condoms and other tools from the start.

Can I get an STI from masturbating?

An STI needs to spread from one person to another. So if you’re masturbating and your only sex partner is yourself, there’s no way to get an STI. You can still get an STI from another person if you use a sex toy that they’ve used. To lower the risk for other kinds of infection, you can wash your hands and any toys you’re using before you get started!

It’s possible to spread a bacterial infection from one part of your body to another. If you already have an STI or other infection in one part of your body, you can also spread it to other parts when you masturbate.

There are tons of ways of lowering your risk, though! Putting a new condom, dental dam, or glove on your toys or hands when you move to a different body part helps a lot. You can also use these with shared toys, although it’s safest to have a toy nobody else has used for each body part. Washing hands and toys can also lower your risk!

If you’re worried about getting STIs, it helps to get tested regularly, at a clinic or CLSC.

For more information about STI transmission and symptoms, check out the following links:

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