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STDs: Surprising Ways to Catch them without Sex
STDs: Surprising Ways to Catch them without Sex

STDs: Surprising Ways to Catch them without Sex

Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs can pass or spread during sexual activities such as anal, oral or vaginal sex. But some STDs may transmit with sharing towels or food. Certain blood borne infections like human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B may spread through non-sexual contact with infected bodily fluids like blood. In this blogpost, we will discover common ways how STDs can be caused, kinds of STD infection which can transmit through blood and skin-to-skin contact.

What you should know about STI testing

Performing STI testing is a good idea for anyone who has:

  • new sex partner
  • symptoms of STI
  • had sex with many partners

How STDs can be transmitted

The most common way to spread an STD is through anal, oral or vaginal sex. But different kinds of bodily fluids such as – blood, semen, saliva and vaginal secretions contain bacteria or viruses. There are cases when a person may contract an STI by getting in contact with a fluid that has virus or bacteria of an STD. The mothers may pass some STDs to their would-be-born babies during labour, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Signs of getting an STD

Some signs and symptoms of an STD may differ based on the disease you have. Many of them do not have any symptoms for months or years and STDs can go unnoticed till you or a partner receive a positive test result. Some signs include the following:

  • Penile discharge
  • Sore or swollen lymph nodes
  • Abnormal bleeding from vagina
  • Foul smell from vaginal discharge
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Genital itching or irritation
  • Sores in the genital, oral or rectal area
  • Warts or bumps in the rectal or genital area
  • Pain at the time of intercourse
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pelvic or lower abdomen pain

Different STDs commonly spread without sex

Different STDs can transmit through non-sexual contact:


Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 may transmit due to skin-to-skin contact. The possibility of getting this infection is the highest when you have sex or kiss someone who is having open sores. You may catch oral herpes by sharing unwashed cutlery, drinkware and straws.

Common symptoms of oral and genital herpes are:

  • Flu-like aches and symptoms
  • Fluid-filled sores and blisters
  • Abnormal tingling, burning sensations or itching

You need to test for HSV-1 and HSV-2 which can be done at home or at one of our clinics in the UK.


This kind of bacterial infection can spread through sexual contact with the infected individual. The disease may pass on through oral sex or sharing of sex toys. Sometimes, having oral sex with a partner can cause chlamydia in your throat.

If you are having chlamydia, then you might experience: 

  • Pain at the time of urinating

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge

  • Pain during intercourse


Also called trich, this type of STD is caused due to a parasite. The infection may spread through non-sexual contact, which includes – genital touching or damp towels.

You will have to find these symptoms:

  • Itching or soreness around your genitals

  • Unusual discharge that may be strange in colour

  • Increase in discharge with unusual smell in women


Everyone comes in contact with this HPV infection during their lifetime. HPV virus may transmit easily through skin-to-skin contact though can be protected against vaccines. HPV generally do not show any symptoms.

Sometimes, you might experience: 

  • Cervical cancer in rare cases

  • Skin warts which include genital warts


This is a kind of bacterial infection usually caught during sex or contact with someone who already has the infection. The condition presents sores on your mouth or genitals and will transmit through contact with these sores. Just touching syphilis sores may cause contracting the disease. If you sleep together naked with your partner, share sex toys or grind, then these can increase the risk of getting syphilis.

Early symptoms of syphilis are the following:

  • Flu-like symptoms and joint pain
  • Swollen glands in your armpits, neck or groin
  • Painless sores on your mouth or genitals

Hepatitis B & C

Both kinds of hepatitis can spread through contact with infected blood. This is possible when you share razors or needles with someone who already has the infection. Hepatitis B and C may be contracted with other bodily fluids, such as saliva or semen.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Yellowing of your skin
  • Fever with high temperature

How sexually transmitted diseases may transmit other than sex

You need not have intercourse with your partner for STDs to spread. The transmission might occur due to following activities:


Mononucleosis, a kind of herpes virus, is very contagious disease. It may spread during sexual contact and called “kissing disease” as it can be passed through kissing and saliva. You may get it by drinking, sharing utensils and other types of close contact. Though herpes simplex 1 or oral herpes is not an STD, you may spread it through kissing. It may transfer to genital areas through oral-genital contact. Herpes simplex 2 can transmit easily during sexual intimacy.

Oral sex

Your mouth, lips and throat can get into contact through bodily fluids and menstrual blood at the time of oral sex. There is little chance of getting blood borne STD like HIV or hepatitis B when you have oral sex with someone who menstruates. This is very true when there are cuts or open sores in the mouth. Human papillomavirus, chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, genital herpes and syphilis may spread through oral sex. But the transmission of genital herpes and syphilis is more likely when there are open sores in your genital area.

Skin to skin contact

Certain sexually transmitted diseases such as – HPV, herpes and syphilis may transmit through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has this infection. This may happen when your mouth or genitals touch their anal, mouth or genital area. It is possible to get an STD when you touch a sore and then touch eyes, genitals or mouth before washing hands. HPV which causes genital warts may transmit through genital-to-anal or genital-to-genital contact, even when there isn’t any contact with the wart.

Contaminated food

Hepatitis A (HAV) can transmit through oral-fecal route. For example, you may spread HAV when you do not wash hands before preparing food or drinks. You can get HAV when sharing food with someone, if the blood gets into a cut or sore in your mouth. The blood in mouth might come from bleeding or sore gums. Though it is rare to contract HAV this way, you should not share food with others.

Contaminated fabric

Trichomonas vaginalis is a kind of parasite which causes common STD called trichomoniasis. This parasite may stay on the damp fabrics for almost one hour. Crabs may spread through clothing, towels and infested bedding.

Contaminated surfaces

Some blood borne infections such as – hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV may spread by sharing syringes or needles. You can get it from contaminated toothbrush or razor when there is presence of blood.

Shared medical equipment

Most people believe syringe or needle sharing with illegal use of drugs. It may even occur through sharing contaminated blood sugar monitoring equipment or insulin syringes and needles. Though most STDs do not stay outside the body for a long time, some may remain on the surfaces like unwashed sex toys. STDs which transmit by sharing unwashed sex toys are the following:

  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea
  • trichomoniasis
  • herpes
  • HPV

Blood transfusion

STDs can occur through contaminated transfusion of blood and you can transmit blood borne STDs like hepatitis or HIV. Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and syphilis have all been transmitted by means of blood transfusion earlier. Most blood can be screened before transfusion, but when you have had a blood transfusion more than 30 years before, you can consider getting tested. This is somewhat unlikely with proper screening and testing requirements for blood as well as blood donors.

How you can prevent sexually transmitted diseases

The prevention of STD begins with screening, testing and vaccinations available. There are at-home STD tests to use but you should tell your healthcare provider when getting positive result. Here are some strategies for preventing STD.

  • Restrict the number of sex partners or abstain from doing sexual activity.
  • Limit sexual activity to monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. 
  • Use barrier devices like dental dams, condoms and finger cots
  • Do not share medical equipment or drug injection equipment such as – syringes, needles, glucose monitoring devices and razors
  • Clean sex toys after use.
  • Take vaccination for STD
  • Avoid sharing food, unwashed linens or utensils
  • Wash hands after any sexual intimacy
  • Take antiviral medication

Should you test for STDs even when you did not had sex?

Yes, you should conduct STD test even when you did not had sex with your partner. In order to be sure you are not a carrier of an STD, it is advisable that you get tested in every six months, particularly when you have had other types of sexual contact. There are some STDs which seem to be asymptomatic and so, you might not see visible signs. However you can still pass them on to your partner.

Yes, it is possible to spread or contract an STI without having penetrative sex. The best way you can protect yourself and your partner(s) is to know your present STI status. The effective treatment may treat or suppress the infection in many cases. You may contact us for full STD screening in London and know whether you have the infection.

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