What Sexual Activities Put You at Risk of STIs?

Photographer: Alex Louis Engival

Photographer: Alex Louis Engival

Most sex educators and medical professionals use the term “safer” instead of “safe” sex because certain risks do not completely go away when engaging in sexual activities. No matter our age, race, economic status, sexuality, gender, relationship type, married or single, all of us are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The most effective way to guarantee zero exposure of STIs to yourself and others is to never have sex with anyone! Now, if abstinence is not an ideal choice for you, other things to consider are the different intimate contacts that reduce the risks of exposure.

Here is a list, provided on Scarleteen, of sexual activities in which there are zero or very low risks.

  • Kissing or making out (does pose an oral herpes risk)
  • General body stroking (“feeling up”) or massage without genital contact
  • Dry sex (with both partners clothed)/clothed tribbing or frottage
  • Mutual masturbation or solo masturbation
  • Receptive anal intercourse where the insertive partner is using a sanitized sex toy/dildo, not a penis
  • Sex toy play where toys are not being shared and are cleaned properly before use
  • Phone sex or cybersex
  • Sharing fantasies and/or role playing (within the context of the activities above)

Safer sex practices, such as using protective barriers like condoms, dams and gloves, as well as being tested regularly, all reduce risks.

It’s important to know which sexual activities put you at risk of transmitting or contracting different infections. Here is a list provided by The STD Project of all the STIs you could be exposed to.

The highest risk activities are listed first; activities with the lowest risk are last.

Vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse or vaginal intercourse with a condom that has been used for anal sex:

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV/Vaginitis)
Chancroid
Chlamydia
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Gonorrhea (‘The Clap’)
Hepatitis (A, B & C)
Herpes Simplex
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Intestinal Parasites
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Mycoplasma Genitalium
Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
Pubic Lice
Scabies
Syphilis
Trichomoniasis

Oral sex (going down, eating out, blow job, giving head, rimming):

Chlamydia
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Gonorrhea
Hepatitis
Herpes Simplex
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Intestinal Parasites
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Mycoplasma Genitalium
Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
Pubic Lice
Syphilis

Manual sex (hand job, fingering):

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV/Vaginitis)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Herpes Simplex
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Pubic Lice
Scabies
Syphilis

Kissing- when no open cuts or sores outside/inside the mouth are present:

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Herpes Simplex
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)

The original list is published at The STD Project

1533882_446848112083407_2051712922_n THE STD PROJECT is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions. Find them on twitter @theSTDProject

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen