Can You Get an STI From a Sex Toy?

It is possible to get an STI from a sex toy, but only if the sex toy was used by someone with an STI and wasn’t cleaned properly between uses. This is why practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly are important.

The pathogens that cause STIs have a limited time frame in which they stay on surfaces, and sex toys are no exception.

Non-specific urethritis

Non-specific urethritis is inflammation of the urethra (the tube that carries wee from the bladder to the outside world) caused by any infection other than gonorrhoea. It can be found in men and women. Symptoms of non-specific urethritis include a white sticky discharge from the penis or vulva, pain when you pee and a need to go to the toilet more often. Non-specific urethritis isn’t contagious but the infections that cause it are. It is possible to get the infections that cause non-specific urethritis from kissing, hugging, sharing baths or soaps, sharing toothbrushes and toilet seats. It is also possible to catch these infections from having sex but in men this is more rare.

In men, if a white discharge from the penis or an unusual discharge from the vulva is present and Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea have been ruled out then antibiotics for non-specific urethritis can be prescribed. The treatment for this infection is usually a course of tablets. It is important to complete the whole course of antibiotics because stopping before you have finished will mean that the bacteria may recur.

You can help prevent getting non-specific urethritis by using barriers like condoms or dental dams before and during sexual activity. It is also recommended that you get regular STI tests. This can help you detect an infection early and make it easier to treat.

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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by hepatitis A virus. It’s spread when you ingest food or water that has been contaminated with the stool (poop) of someone who has the disease. It can also be spread when a person who has the disease doesn’t wash their hands after using the toilet and touches other objects or food. Other risk factors include international travel, especially to Asia or South or Central America, sharing injected drugs, living in a home where an infected person lives, and oral-anal sex.

Symptoms of hepatitis A often appear two to six weeks after you’re infected. They may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dark-coloured stools and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Not everyone who is infected with hepatitis A will have symptoms.

Fortunately, there’s a vaccine for hepatitis A, so you can prevent the illness. You can also avoid getting it by practicing good hygiene while travelling, such as frequent hand washing and screening sex partners for STDs. Also, don’t share injected drugs or needles. Symptoms of hepatitis last less than two months, and most people make a full recovery without lasting liver damage. Symptoms may be severe in babies, the elderly and those with chronic liver disease. If you’re worried, see your GP or healthcare provider for further diagnosis and treatment.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus and spread through blood, saliva, vaginal fluids and semen. It can cause an acute (short-term) infection or a chronic (long term) infection and put people at risk of dying from cirrhosis or liver cancer. It can also be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth or through unprotected sex.

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The hepatitis B surface antigen test is the most common way of testing for hepatitis B. It can be used to see whether you have an active hepatitis B infection or not. A positive result means you are infected and can pass the virus to others. A negative result means you don’t have hepatitis B.

People can get hepatitis B by having unprotected sex, sharing needles for injection drug use, or getting a tattoo or piercing without sterilizing the equipment. It can also be transmitted through accidental contact with contaminated blood or body fluids, such as from a medical procedure in which an unsterilized needle was used. It is especially common in parts of the world where the hepatitis B vaccine is not widely available, such as China, India, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

About 9 out of 10 adults who get hepatitis B recover completely. However, some people develop a long-lasting infection and become “carriers,” meaning they can pass the virus on to other people for the rest of their lives. There are medications that can help treat hepatitis B. These include oral antiviral drugs, such as tenofovir disoproxil and tenofovir alafenamide.

Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum and can be cured with antibiotics, especially penicillin G benzathine (Bicillin L-A). The first stage of syphilis, called primary syphilis, starts two to 12 weeks after infection and looks like a smooth, hard sore or ulcer in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth. A person can pass the infection by having vaginal, anal or oral sex during this stage. The sores do not hurt, so they may go away on their own or be mistaken for other conditions. The bacteria can also be spread through casual contact with an infected person, such as touching a sore on the bottom of the penis or the foreskin of the penis, using a shared toothbrush or razor, or sharing utensils or food items.

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Treatment for syphilis includes medications given as injections or pills. Medications may cause flu-like symptoms, which usually dissipate within 24 hours. During treatment, avoid having sex until the sores have healed and your doctor tells you it is safe. Tell all your sex partners that you are infected with syphilis so they can get tested and treated if needed.

Syphilis is a very treatable and preventable STD, but it is important to remember that having syphilis once doesn’t protect you from getting it again or passing it on to someone else. The best way to protect yourself is to abstain from sex or be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who doesn’t have syphilis and use a condom during sex.

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