Can you catch an STI without having sex?

Sexual Health Advice

There are a number of different ways for sexually transmitted infections (STI)s to spread, and shockingly, not all of them involve sex! The truth of the matter is that STIs can be spread through something as simple as sharing a towel with an infected person. In this blog post we detail some of the ways that these infections can spread, and how to do what you can in order to protect yourself and others from these diseases.

1. Touch

The majority of STIs are carried in the genital fluids of those infected. This can include vaginal fluid, anal fluid, and semen. This means that certain types of touch can spread an STI from an infected person to a non-infected person. This type of touch can include touching of genitals together (does not have to be penetrative sex), or moving infected fluid by hand to somewhere with a break in the skin (mouth, eyes, vagina, anus, or tip of the penis).

STIs cannot be transferred through healthy skin. Unless there are open sores present, you can safely shake hands with, hug, or kiss someone with an STI.

2. Pregnancy & Childbirth

Another non-sexual method of spreading an STI is from pregnant parent to baby. Certain STIs that are carried in the blood can spread to the unborn baby via the placenta. In other cases, the baby can catch the infection from the birthing parent when passing through the birth canal. Since babies don’t have a fully developed immune system, these types of infections can be a lot more serious and can even be life threatening. Some STIs can cause complications during pregnancy like miscarriage, premature labour, low birth weight, and still birth.

These are some of the reasons why prospective parents will take a sexual health test prior to the birth of or even before trying for a baby. This allows parents to take the necessary precautions whether that be curing the infection, managing the symptoms, or making some necessary changes to their birth plan in order to protect their baby.

3. Shared pools and baths

It is important to note that very few STIs are spread through pools and baths. However, there are some instances where this can happen like with a Trichomoniasis Vaginalis or “Trich” infection. This STI is caused by a parasite that lives in the lower genital tract. It can cause symptoms like pain when urinating, swelling of the genitals, itching, and abnormal discharge.

4. Clothing, Towels, and Bed Linen

Reports of STIs being spread through clothing, towels, and bed linen are much lower than those spread through sexual activity. That said, some STIs are able to live outside of the body for a period of time and can be spread in this manner. These STIs include Pubic Lice, Trichomoniasis, and Chancroid. Thankfully, these are all easily treatable, and if caught early, are unlikely to cause any lasting discomfort.

5. Kissing

Don’t panic! As stated before, STIs can’t be spread from healthy skin to healthy skin, and STIs cannot be spread by kissing in the high majority of cases. However, since some STIs like Herpes Simplex Virus I or HSV-1 can cause ulcers, blisters, or sores on the face, these can be a gateway through which infections are spread.

In fact, around 7 in 10 people in the UK are estimated to be infected with this virus, and the majority of us are believed to have caught it from our parent’s as children! Once infected with this virus, you will have it for life. Luckily, other than the appearance of a cold sore a few times each year, this virus won’t cause too many ill effects.

In conclusion, you don’t have to have to have sex to catch an STI. The only sure way of knowing your sexual health status is with a test. JACE testing is easy, fast, and discrete. The whole process, start to finish, can be completed from the comfort of your own home. For your peace of mind, why not order a test today?


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