Can you get STDs from kissing? When, where, and how on STDs: protect yourself and others
When people think of sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs), they tend to assume certain things. The most common assumption is that the person who got one was promiscuous, didn’t use protection, and also may have been doing other things that put them at risk. It’s one of the most pervasive stigmas of the disease world.
It’s true that STDs generally are transmitted through vaginal and anal sex. However, they also have other potential routes of transmission depending on the disease. Oral sex tends to be a common route, but what about kissing? Can it spread STDs, too? The answer may surprise you.
Can you get an STD from kissing?
While kissing is far more low-risk than other sexual activities, you can still get an STD from kissing the wrong person. It’s important to realize that not all STIs are transmissible via a kiss. Currently, the only sexually transmitted diseases you can get from kissing are:
- HSV. Herpes simplex virus is the most commonly-spread STD from kissing.
- CMV. This is cytomegalovirus, and while it is not considered to be an official STD, it was listed on the Planned Parenthood website as an STD that can be transmitted through kissing. It also happens to be a very dangerous disease that can cause blindness.
- Syphilis. Syphilis is another disease that can be transmitted through kissing, primarily due to saliva contact.
- HPV. While HPV has not been completely ascertained to be transmitted through kissing, studies have shown that open-mouth kissing can increase the chances of getting this disease.
- Mononucleosis. This is not an STD, but it is known as “the kissing disease” because it can spread so easily through a kiss.
Note: If you have any reason to believe you have an STD, don’t rely on “chances” to make a decision on your health. Go to a doctor and get an STD panel. Not all STDs have symptoms that display openly-- Getting tested could save your life.
Can you get chlamydia through mouth-to-mouth kissing?
In many circles, there is a belief that you can get chlamydia from kissing the wrong person. This is not true. Chlamydia has not been shown to be transmissible through typical open-mouth kissing. The only time any kissing motion could lead to chlamydia is through oral sex.
Can you get an STD if neither partner has one?
In order for a disease to spread, you have to have one infected person come into contact with someone who is not infected.
Your partner had to have the STD in order for it to be transmitted to you. With that said, certain STDs like HIV can stay dormant for as long as six months. Either way, asking this question means that you may have to have a difficult talk with your partner and your doctor.
How risky is kissing?
In terms of sexual activity, kissing is a very low-risk activity. Most people will not catch an STD just because they kissed a bunch of people.
How to protect yourself from STDs while kissing
For the most part, kissing is one of the only activities where protection doesn’t involve a barrier method like a condom. Most people are not going to bother protecting themselves when they kiss someone—and honestly, it often isn’t necessary. With that said, safety is always smart. These steps can help prevent you from being infected:
Ask people about their STD status and the most recent times they were screened. Most people should get an STD panel at least once every three months, or once every year if they are in a monogamous relationship.
Do not kiss people who have visible sores around their mouth. Cold sores and blisters are a sign of STD transmission. They are also more contagious when visible sores are present.
If you have a partner who has HSV or HPV, make sure they are on medication. Certain medicines can help reduce the spread of HSV and similar diseases. This can make kissing and sexual activity possible when it otherwise wouldn’t be safe to do so.
Keep kisses close-mouthed. It may not be the most passionate thing, but it works for multiple reasons. Open-mouthed kissing is riskier than the close-mouthed peck. To get even safer, stick to cheek kisses.
Safe sex doesn’t have to be boring sex.
Are you worried that an STD could cramp your sexual style? Don’t worry-- a little bit of caution can actually help you explore your fantasies safely and comfortably.
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