All STIs and STDs are passed sexually, right? Wrong. In addition to transmission through sexual intercourse, there are other ways in which infections can be passed which you should be aware of. Whether an STI is passed sexually or non-sexually, it will have the same consequences if left untreated.

Maybe you’re aware that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed in varying ways, or maybe this is new to you. Either way, it’s worth reading up on other ways in which STIs can be transmitted. The more clued up you are about how infections can be contracted, the easier it is to know how to take care of your sexual health and keep yourself safe.


If you have a cold sore around your mouth, there’s one thing you should avoid at all costs. Kissing. Oral Herpes, also known as the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1), can be spread by contact with an active sore. Oral sex should also be avoided when a cold sore is present, in order to prevent contracting HSV-1 in the genital area. That brings us onto our next point…

Oral sex

Of course, this is a form of sex and therefore still poses a high risk of catching an infection. Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are amongst the STIs most commonly passed through oral sex to the throat. Syphilis and Genital Herpes can also be passed through contact with a blister or sore in the genital area. Using a condom during oral sex can help to prevent catching STIs but will never provide complete protection.

Sharing toothbrushes, razors or needles

Bloodborne infections can be spread by sharing objects which can cut the skin with someone who is infected. This includes HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. To minimise the risk, you should always avoid using another person’s toothbrush or razor and never share needles.

Blood transfusion

In the UK, blood utilised in transfusions is screened beforehand. However, if you had a blood transfusion before 1991 in the UK or at any time outside the UK, you may be at risk of bloodborne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.

Contaminated food

Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water and then passed to others through anal sex (contact with infected faeces). This is more common in developing countries with poor sanitation.

Skin-on-skin contact

HPV, which can cause Genital Warts, can be transmitted through physical contact with a wart. Syphilis is usually passed through direct contact with a Chancre or sore (the first stage of infection) so you should avoid touching or rubbing against anyone with a suspected sore.

Sharing sex toys

Unwashed sex toys can pass STIs between two or more people. This includes Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Trichomonas, Herpes, HPV amongst others. It is important to clean your sex toys between use to prevent the spread of infection. You can read more about how to do so here.

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