While people can’t get infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) out of the blue, it is technically possible to “give yourself” an STI.
How does this happen? To understand, we need to explain how STIs are transmitted and detail all the non-sexual ways you can get an STI, from using contaminated household items to transferring an infection to another part of your body.
Keep reading to find out more.
Most people get sexually transmitted infections through sexual contact.
“Sexual contact” is a fairly nebulous term, but can include forms of sexual intercourse, like oral, anal, or vaginal sex, as well as forms of genital to genital and skin to skin contact that don’t involve penetration.
Anytime bodily fluids like semen, blood, vaginal fluids, or pre-ejaculate come into contact with another person’s mucous membranes or broken skin, there is a risk of an infection being passed on.
However, you can get an STI without having sex or even coming into physical contact with another sexual partner (or sex partners).
Using contaminated sex toys is one way to potentially give yourself an STI.
For example, if you’re sharing a sex toy with another person, or if the toy has been used by someone who may have an infection, there is a risk of exposure and transmission.
Additionally, if the material of the toy isn’t properly cleaned between uses and it comes into contact with your mucous membranes, you could be infected.
Using contaminated needles is another way you can potentially give yourself an STI. Needles are commonly used for medical procedures, drug use, and tattoos. If they are not properly sterilised before use, there is a risk of exposure to blood-borne infections such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C.
If you come into contact with someone else’s infected blood by sharing a needle, then there is a chance that you may be infected. Therefore, it’s important to always practice safe injection practices when using needles and ensure that any equipment used has been properly sterilised beforehand to reduce exposure risk.
You can also contract STIs like Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by sharing toothbrushes, razors, and similar household items that may break the skin.
It is possible to transfer an STI from one part of your body to another, even if you don’t come into direct contact with someone else.
While some STIs are whole-body infections, others are more site-specific. A Herpes Simplex Virus infection is an example of a site-specific STI. An Oral Herpes or Genital Herpes infection tends to stay specific to one area of the body, usually the mouth or genitals. However, a person can transfer this infection to another part of their body.
If you have a Genital Herpes infection and you touch your genitals (especially during an outbreak) and then proceed to touch your eyes, the infection could enter the eye’s mucous membrane, causing a condition known as epithelial keratitis, which can cause redness in the eye, light sensitivity, tearing, and headaches.
This can also occur with other infections like Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. If, for example, you have a Gonorrhoea infection in your genitals, masturbate, and immediately touch your eye, you can transfer the infection from your genitals to your eye.
It is important to recognise the potential risks of STI transmission and take appropriate steps to protect yourself. By using safe injection practices, avoiding contact with infected body fluids, and properly cleaning any sex toys or equipment, you can significantly reduce your risk of self-infection.
If you are sexually active, it’s also a good idea to get tested regularly. Better2Know provides private testing services that allow you to quickly and discreetly find out if you have an infection.
Get tested with Better2Know today.