Considering the fact that STD means “sexually transmitted disease,” sex is obviously the first thing we think of when thinking about how people contract STDs (and STIs). It’s more than clear that unprotected sex is the easiest way to spread STDs, but are there non-sexy ways to contract these diseases that actually have nothing to do with sex? The scary answer is yes – meaning even virgins could get one.
The less scary part of that answer is that contracting an STD or STI from something other than unprotected intercourse is very rare, and not something you should spend all of your time thinking about. This post isn’t meant to freak anyone out or to be dramatic. But even though the chances are small and rare, I still think it’s important to know that STDs are transmitted in ways that have nothing to do with just p-in-v sexy times.
Knowing this also helps to break the stigma that surrounds STDs and STIs, which is mainly that if you have one, you’re dirty and slutty and you should be ashamed of yourself. And hey, it always helps to know what you’re up against so that you can at least protect yourself in some way. Here are 10 weird ways you never knew you could get an STD:
Handjobs or FingeringIf you thought that a little hand action below the belt would protect you from STDs, you would be wrong... kind of. There is actually a risk of getting HPV from doing this. As one report stated: "HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is most commonly passed between people during vaginal or anal intercourse. But it can also be transmitted through genital-to-genital, or hand-to-genital contact, which is how the participants in the study likely got the virus." Even though this doesn't happen all the time, it's still a possibility, and a reminder that you and your partner should be checked before doing any kind of sexual activity, not just having intercourse. Source: iStock
Dry HumpingEven dry humping isn't safe! Doctors warn that rubbing your body against someone who has herpes can spread said herpes even if there is no penetration or bodily fluids involved. But don't worry - herpes can't go through your clothes. This is only important to keep in mind if there is skin to skin contact, so if you guys are doing dry humping naked, or something like that. If the herpes virus is present in anyway, and you're dry humping by rubbing your skin against someone with it, you could get herpes.
Lip BalmIn case you couldn't tell, herpes is spread very easily - even through things that don't involve sex in the slightest bit. Although it isn't easy for STDs to live on inanimate objects, that doesn't mean they can't. If someone who has oral herpes uses lip balm near an infected area (even if it doesn't look infected), they can spread the virus through that lip balm. This isn't super common, so it shouldn't make you swear off lip balm forever. But if you know a friend or family member has herpes, don't share their lip balm or lipstick. And be a little cautious about sampling the items in makeup stores. They're supposed to clean and disinfect them, but you never know. Source: iStock
Tattoos or PiercingsIt shouldn't be surprising that there is a risk of contracting an STD when you get a tattoo or piercing. Needles used for these can easily carry something as serious as HIV or hepatitis if they aren't sterilized or disinfected properly. Most shops are invested in their customers and wouldn't put you in harm's way. But it's still important to take things into your own hands by researching how safe and clean they are. You can also ask shop owners for the details on how they clean their needles. Source: iStock
WaxingI remember when I first started doing Brazilian waxes - a friend said, "Oh my God, did you know you could get an STD from that?!" It did totally freak me out, but then I looked it up. The truth is, you CAN get infected with an STD when getting your bikini area waxed - if the waxers aren't being safe. If they double-dip into wax with the same stick, they could be spreading an STD. Say they're waxing someone with an STD. If they use a stick to spread the wax down there, then dip that stick back in the wax, then wax someone else using that wax that is now infected with the STD... it can happen. This is why you should always go to salons like European Wax Center, where they never double-dip and throw out the stick after each individual use. Source: iStock
When Wearing A CondomI hate to say it, but condoms are not invincible, guys. Even when you're wearing a condom, you still have a small risk of contracting genital herpes from someone who has it. Herpes can be spread when there is an infection, but in much scarier news, it can also be spread when it looks like nothing is there - the virus can still live on the skin. Since a condom only covers a small area down there, it doesn't get every part that could be infected. So, yeah, you can still contract genital herpes even when using a condom. Does this mean you shouldn't use them? Absolutely not. They protect against other, more harmful STDs, and they do cut your risk down for contracting genital herpes, so they're still worth it. Source: iStock
Toilet SeatsA few years ago, someone told me that you could get crabs from using a toilet seat that was just used by someone who had crabs. It totally freaked me out, and I now avoid public bathrooms as much as possible. Luckily, the risk of this happening is VERY, very small - but some doctors say it's still there, and so I feel obligated to tell you guys about it. Some STDs can live on toilet seats for a short period of time, but it's so rare - most of them can't survive on inanimate objects like that. Source: iStock
RazorsJust like with needles used for piercings and tattoos, razors can also bring about the risk of contracting an STD. Think about it: when you shave, you're opening up your skin and possibly creating tiny little cuts. It's basically like inviting STDs or infections in there. And if someone with an STD uses a razor and then you borrow it without sterilizing it, it could happen! It's just best not to share these things if you don't know what someone has. Source: iStock
Tanning BedsBesides the fact that they cause cancer, tanning beds are bad because they can also help spread HPV. Like we learned in the first slide, HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin contact. It also doesn't only live on genitals - it can live on fingers too. So, even if you lay down in a tanning bed with underwear on, you can still contract it. A lot of people go into tanning beds naked, and if they're infected with HPV, they could leave some behind. Source: iStock
Moist TowelsAn STD lives and thrives in a warm, moist environment - which is why they can be contracted through moist towels. One in particular, trichomoniasis, is known for this. Just be careful about using moist towels from public places, because the possibility is small, but still there! Source: iStock
Which of these did you never know about? What did we forget to include? Tell me in the comments.