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STDs Without Having Sex?

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STDs Without Having Sex?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be transmitted without sex, that is, without intercourse. Even grandma kissing you at Christmas might pass on cold sores (a herpes virus). Venereal diseases are often undiagnosed or hidden by symptoms that are common to other diseases. You can have an STD and never know it.

STDs are more common than you might think. It is largely the stigma and fear around these diseases that prevent their early detection and treatment. Testing usually consists of a simple blood or urine test. It is not complicated now to know what is going on in your body. But if you don’t get tested you are putting yourself and your loved one at risk. If STDs are caught in the early stages they are easier to treat. You want to take care of these infections before they begin to undermine your health.

I had a patient in his 50s who came to be seen for a recurring rash on his back. He had it for years and had never been told what it was. I knew in a second it was a herpes infection that had migrated from an earlier contact. Most likely it had been a genital contact with someone who didn’t even know they had herpes. He might have been spreading his infection also, not knowing he was doing so. We tested him and it came back positive. Some people don’t want to know they have “VD,” but he was glad because then he could be treated effectively rather than being treated for a rash and never getting better.

A landmark paper was published the Journal of the American Medical Association which showed for the first time the fact that patients with genital herpes “shed” virus from the genital tract, even when they don’t have any obvious symptoms. They found that if the cultures were done daily for 100 days in these women, every single patient demonstrated shedding of the virus at some time.

According to the ACOG [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] Committee on Adolescent Health Care and Committee on Gynecologic Practice, “Couples may engage in noncoital (that is, sex without intercourse) sexual activity instead of penile-vagina intercourse hoping to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. Although these behaviors carry little or no risk of pregnancy, women (and men) engaging in noncoital behaviors may be at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases.” These include mutual masturbation, oral sex and anal sex. The risk of passing on STDs is increased by the fact that the public is not familiar with many of the common symptoms of STDs or that they resemble other illnesses like the flu or more common skin eruptions.

Next: Signs and Symptoms of STDs

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Dr. Andrew Lange

Dr. Andrew Lange served as Chair of the Department of Homeopathic Medicine and Supervising Clinical Physician at Bastyr University in Seattle. He is the author of Getting to the Root: Treating the Deepest Source of Disease. He is the Medical Director at and practices in Boulder, Colorado. For more information go to


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2:34AM PDT on Mar 11, 2015

It is very informative

9:21PM PST on Feb 2, 2014

Watch the spammers on this one...

10:40PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

I just want everyone to know never to give up believing there is someone out there for you even though you have std! We are very happy with each other and that made it possible for us to find each other. Don't pass a good thing, you never know what it may evolve into

1:19PM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:49AM PST on Dec 15, 2011

Thank you

7:56PM PDT on May 24, 2011

Yes, It is largely the stigma and fear around these diseases that prevent their early detection and treatment.

As I know several of my friends met at the famous STD dating site are infected by the unknowingly positive partners. Their partners think they are negative since they never have obvious symptoms.

5:12PM PST on Feb 2, 2011


7:02PM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Good information

7:41PM PST on Jan 5, 2011

This is something to think about.

2:54PM PST on Jan 4, 2011

Talk to your kids about sex! And, if you're single and doing it, PROTECT YOURSELF always. Even if you have just started a serious relationship, both of you should be tested. Better to be safe than sorry...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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