Can You Get an STD from Having Sex with a Virgin?

There's a myth that just because someone is a virgin that sex with them is automatically safe. Even if it is a virgin's first time having what they define as sex, it doesn't mean that they have never been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) (or sexually transmitted infection, STI). There are several ways that virgins can become infected with STDs.

Types of STD Transmission

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Varying Definitions of Virginity

To many, virginity means never having had any sexual contact—but that is not everyone's definition.

Many consider themselves to be virgins if they have not had penetrative (penile-vaginal, penile-anal) sex, even if they've had oral sex or skin-to-skin genital contact. Furthermore, definitions of virginity based on heteronormative assumptions may not be valid in different social or cultural groups.

Sexual encounters can represent varying degrees of interaction and exposure, whether they involve the penis, vagina, mouth, anus, fingers, or sex toys, and whether they are female-male, male-male, or female-female. All of these encounters are risk factors for acquiring an STD.

Given the range of interpretations of the word "virgin," simply being told by a partner that they are one tells you nothing about their risk profile.

Virginity is a cultural definition—not a medical one. Even if a person has never had penetrative sex, it is possible that they may have been exposed to an STD. All sexual encounters warrant the use of safe sex practices—not a reliance on assumptions.

STD Transmission

Sexually transmitted diseases are passed from person to person in a variety of ways.

Congenital and Bloodborne Transmission

Some people are exposed to their mother's STDs during pregnancy or birth. It is also possible to become infected with diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), through nonsexual risk behaviors. For example, injection drug use is a risk factor for most bloodborne diseases.

Genital Skin-to-Skin Contact

Intimate activities that include genital skin-to-skin contact can transmit genital herpes, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV). These organisms can be present on the skin in sores, warts, or even in the secretions (vaginal or penile) of those who are not symptomatic.

Oral Transmission

Many individuals acquire oral herpes through casual contact with the saliva of their family members (such as by kissing on the mouth or sharing eating and drinking utensils). This can then be spread to the genitals through oral sex.

As a result, for example, a person who has not had vaginal sex may acquire genital herpes by receiving oral sex from a person who has oral herpes. A person who has not had anal sex may acquire it through oral-anal contact. Even if asymptomatic, they may then transmit herpes to a vaginal or anal sex partner.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can also be transmitted by oral or anal sex. These organisms may infect the mouth or throat during oral contact with an infected person's genitals or anus. Then these diseases can be passed to the genitals of a partner who receives oral sex from the person who has an oral infection.

Anal Transmission

STDs can be acquired through unprotected anal sex. Just as they may be transmitted through vaginal sex, STD-causing viruses, bacteria, and parasites can infect the anal and rectal tissues. As well, bloodborne STDs such as HIV and hepatitis are a risk with anal sex.

Shared-Object or Fingering Transmission

Hand-to-genital or hand-to-anal contact can spread HPV. A variety of STDs can be spread by sharing an inserted object without cleaning it well between persons. The STDs that can be transmitted this way include chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, trichomoniasis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Pregnancy Risk

Contrary to some popular myths, people can get pregnant the first time they have sex. In addition, sleeping with a virgin won't cure your HIV or other STDs.

When it comes to sex, it's better to be safe than sorry. Assuming you're at risk for STDs or pregnancy is safer than not taking those risks into account. That's true even when it's two virgins having sex.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I lower my risk of getting an STD from a virgin?

    You can take the same safer-sex measures you would use with anyone else, including:

    • Ask them to share their sexual history with you and share yours with them.
    • Use a male (or female) latex condom, or a polyurethane one if either of you is allergic to latex.
    • Use a dental dam for oral sex.
    • Don't have sex while drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs that might inhibit your judgment.
  • Are my partner and I at risk for an STD from having sex if it's the first time for both of us?

    You may be. If you're having penetrative sex of any kind, even if it's the first time, it's important to be aware that some STDs can occur through other types of contact, so one or both of you could be harboring an asymptomatic infection without knowing it. Use safer sex practices.

  • Which STDs should I be most concerned about when having sex with a virgin?

    If you're using the most common definition of "virgin"—that is, having never had vaginal-penile sexual intercourse—the sexually transmitted infections you're most at risk for are those your partner may have gotten through other types of sexual activity. For example, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B are all easily transmitted via oral sex.

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13 Sources
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