Health & Fitness

Can You Get An STD Without Having Sex? All You Need To Know!

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to be a serious problem challenging the healthcare sector and need to be tackled. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the ...

by Kendra Reed

Can You Get An STD Without Having Sex? All You Need To Know!

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to be a serious problem challenging the healthcare sector and need to be tackled. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the major causes of such diseases. All these diseases have a common aspect and are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites through sexual contact.  STIs transmit through individuals by blood, semen, vaginal, and other bodily fluids. Due to misinformation, many people seem to have a lot of misconceptions about STDs and STIs. 

It is important to have a better understanding of the ways through which an STD and a non-sexual transmission infection occur. We know that sharing needles and blood transfusion are the common routes that non-STIs get infected without sexual intercourse. Mostly, non-STDs/STIs are seen in the younger generation between the age group of 15-21. We will talk more about this in the upcoming sections. Keep on reading.

STDs and STIs: What’s The Difference?

As mentioned before, STDs are caused by viral and bacterial infections which are known by the name STIs. It can occur through infections from one individual to another during close sexual contact. The possibility of STIs increases when a person indulges in vaginal, oral, or any form of sex with multiple partners.

Sexually transmitted diseases

STDs on the other hand, are infections that have succeeded in causing diseases or a condition. There are eight major STIs and out of them, four are curable ones which include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. The rest are viral infections such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), Human immune virus (HIV), Human papillomavirus (HPV), and Hepatitis B. 

Common STDs/STIs And Their Primary Transmission Methods

The main causes of all STDs/STIs are vaginal, oral, and other modes of sexual intercourse. However, in some cases, they can be transmitted from mother to child and through blood transfusion. STIs can also occur by sharing infected needles, toothbrushes, and razors.

Given below is a list of the common STDs/STIs that can be found.

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Human immunodeficiency virus occurs through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles, mother-to-child at the time of pregnancy, etc. 

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

The Human Papillomavirus spreads through skin-to-skin sexual contact between individuals. This infection causes mucous membrane growths that can even lead to cancer. 

  • Genital Herpes

Genital herpes results from infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV), a sexually transmitted virus. Individuals become prone to this infection during sexual activities by touching each other. 

  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Chlamydia is a type of STI that is spread by certain bacteria, and viruses mainly through contact with genitals and other bodily fluids. Gonorrhea, on the other hand, is caused by bacteria due to unsafe sexual practices.

  • Syphilis

Syphilis, a disease caused by bacteria, makes its presence known as sores on the genitals, mouth, and other parts of the body. It also spreads from mother to child during pregnancy.

  • Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that acts differently in men and women. In women it becomes more painful and causes foul-smelling, and itching. In general, men who are infected with trichomoniasis do not have symptoms. 

Non-Sexual Transmission of STDs: Is It Possible?

It is important to understand the routes through which non-sexual transmission of STDs occurs. It can help one take the precaution and protect themselves from becoming vulnerable of the effects of STDs. See the list below.

➡️Bloodborne transmission

The most common STDs that can be possible through this route are HIV, hepatitis B and C. It can occur by sharing infected needles or contaminated blood transfusion. 

➡️Oral sex

Gonorrhea, herpes, and HPV can be easily spread through oral sex. Hence, it is required to take precautions to prevent transmission.

➡️Sharing personal materials

It is possible to become prone to STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis by mindless sharing of personal materials like razors, towels, and other materials.

➡️Skin-to-skin contact

Herpes and HPV are the two most common STDs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact without penetration. Viral particles can be transmitted via sores and lesions.

➡️Mother to child

STDs like HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis can be transmitted to the child during pregnancy, and childbirth. 

Blood-borne STDs And Non-Sexual Transmission

Many blood-borne STDs can be transmitted without sexual contact. See below for details.

  • HIV

HIV is commonly transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected partner. However, it can also occur through the sharing of needles and syringes that an infected person has used. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and causes AIDS.

  • Hepatitis B and C

The hepatitis B and C viruses cause this disease and are transmitted through infected blood. It can occur when sharing needles or other types of equipment to inject drugs. Hepatitis B and C can also spread from an infected mother to a baby. 

  • Syphilis

Syphilis, a bacterial infection, occurs through direct contact with a syphilis sore, and it is possible to spread from mother to baby.

Mother-to-child Transmission Of STDs

Mother-to-child transmission of STDs mostly happens during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The most common STDs that spread from mother to child include HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, etc. HIV transmission occurs during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding. Infection from mother to child can be prevented by taking HIV medication and keeping an undetectable viral load. Similarly, the child can be protected from hepatitis B by treating infected mothers and vaccinating infants.

Skin-to-Skin Contact And STD Transmission

Certain infections can spread through skin-to-skin contact without having sexual intercourse. Human papillomavirus, syphilis, and genital and oral herpes are some of them. The herpes simplex virus causes genital and oral herpes. Human papillomavirus causes genital warts and the virus particles get transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Syphilis bacteria spread through the exposure of the skin to the sores of an infected person.

Oral Transmission Of STDs Without Sexual Activity

STDs can indeed be transmitted without having penetrative sex. Some of them are herpes, syphilis, and HPV which spread merely on skin-to-skin contact. Other ways through which it transmits are by contact with the saliva of an infected person during kissing and oral sex.

Rare Cases Of STD Transmission

Some rare cases of STDs emerging currently have to be known. Although these are rare, it has caused concerns among healthcare professionals. Experts comment that these STDs have to be taken seriously. See below for details.

  • Neisseria meningitidis

Neisseria meningitidis, a disease transmitted through oral and genital contact, causes urogenital infections. Intimate acts of sex like deep kissing and oral sex are the major causes of this STD.  

  • Mycoplasma genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is an STD that is most reported among adolescents and young adults. It causes complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, stillbirth, and infertility. 

  • Shigella flexneri

Shigella flexneri, mostly transmitted through oral sex, causes shigellosis, an STD that is difficult to treat. It has been widespread among certain communities and attempts are made to curtail this infection.

  • Lymphogranuloma venereum

Lymphogranuloma venereum is an STD that displays severe symptoms and affects the lymphatic system. It can enhance the risk of HIV transmission and health authorities take it seriously.

Prevention Strategies For Non-Sexual STD Transmission

Certain steps can be taken to prevent non-sexual STD transmission. Avoid sharing personal items such as razors, towels, and underclothing to avoid contact with infected bodily fluids. Vaccinating against diseases, and getting immediate treatment helps to prevent STD transmission to a great extent. 

Summing Up

In this article, we have talked about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and learned the differences. We discussed the primary routes through which these diseases are spread. We also addressed the relevant question of whether STDs can be transmitted without sexual contact and focused on ways through which it is possible.


1. Can you get chlamydia without having sex?

Chlamydia can be transmitted through sharing infected sex toys and using contaminated cloth containing body fluids.

2. Can you get an STD if both partners are clean?

The chances of getting infected with STDs are less if both partners are clean.

3. What’s the easiest STD to catch?

Herpes, a disease spread by the Herpes simplex virus, is the easiest STD to catch.

4. What STDs are not curable?

The STDs that cannot be cured are HIV, hepatitis, genital herpes, human papillomavirus, and cytomegalovirus.

5. How long can you have an STD without knowing?

It varies depending on the type of STD that has been infected. For HIV, the incubation period can be a couple of weeks whereas for HPV it takes years.


  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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