Can You Get an STI From Having Sex With a Virgin?

There's a short answer to question about whether sexual contact with a virgin is always "safe": It's not.

The longer answers explain revolves around how the definition of "virgin" may mean many things to different people. These answers also make clear that sexual activity is expressed in many ways too. That's why you may still run the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI).

This article provides detail on how STIs might happen, even if you and/or a partner feel that virginity protects you. It will help you to limit your risk with information you can trust.

Types of STD Transmission

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Varying Definitions of Virginity

Often, the term "virgin" describes anyone who has not had sexual intercourse. People feel they are a virgin if their sexual activity does not involve what's called penetration.

This definition considers only sex with the penis placed in the vagina or anus. Yet oral sex, or skin-to-skin genital contact, may already be a part of their sexual experience.

Other people may think that virginity means never having had any sexual contact. This may even be true of you, but that is not at all what everyone's idea of virginity means.

The definition of a virgin may change based on the social or cultural group. This is especially true if the assumptions are heteronormative, which views heterosexuality as normal and fails to consider same-sex or other encounters in the full range of experiences.

In reality, sexual activity varies in terms of interaction and possible STI exposure. Body parts and objects during any sexual encounter may include:

  • Penis
  • Vagina
  • Mouth
  • Anus
  • Fingers
  • Sex toys

Sexual activity also may be different based on whether it is female-male, male-male, or female-female. Any and all of these encounters involve risk factors that may lead to an STI.

What all of this means is that there are many variables that affect how people classify what it means to be a virgin. Simply being told by a partner that they are one tells you little about their real risk profile.


Virginity is not a medical definition. It can change depending on social or cultural norms—and often, even within them. It is possible to be exposed to an STI even with a person who has never had penetrative sex. All sexual encounters warrant the use of safer sex practices.

STI Transmission

Sexually transmitted infections are passed from person to person in a variety of ways. Many are quite common.

Transmission Through Blood or Birth

Some people are exposed to their mother's STIs 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 often include genital skin-to-skin contact. This contact can transmit genital herpes, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV). The organisms that cause these infections can be present in sores or warts on the skin, even if a person has no symptoms. They also may be found in fluids that come from the penis or vagina.

Oral Transmission

Oral herpes infects many people through casual contact. It may be in the saliva in your mouth after you kiss a family member or share eating and drinking utensils. This infection can then be spread to the genitals through oral sex.

If a person who has oral herpes gives you oral sex, they can transmit it even though they have no symptoms. That's how you might have a genital herpes infection even though you have never had penetrative sex and, by that standard, remain a virgin.

Other STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex when you're not using a condom include:

The route of transmission works both ways. Someone with an infected anus or genitals can spread the infection to a partner's mouth or throat during oral sex. Left untreated, the same infection can then be passed on again, or even passed back to the same person's genitals.

Anal Transmission

STIs can be spread through sex without condom use. The viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause STIs can infect the anal and rectal tissues, just as they do through vaginal sex.

STIs that are spread through the blood, such as HIV and hepatitis, also are a risk when sex is without physical protection.

Shared-Object or Fingering Transmission

Fingering, or contact between the hand and the anus or genitals, can spread HPV. In fact, a number of STIs also can be spread by sharing an inserted sex toy or object without cleaning it well between uses and partners.

The STIs that can be transmitted this way include:


Many types of STI can be spread through other sexual practices that don't involve penetration of the penis and the anus or vagina. They include genital herpes and HPV, as well as HIV and hepatitis. Be sure to practice safer sex, no matter what type of sexual encounter.

Pregnancy Risk

Contrary to popular myth, people can get pregnant the first time they engage in sexual activity. Having penile-vaginal sex without the use of contraception, even once, can result in pregnancy.


Sexual activity isn't limited to penetrative sex and virginity is defined in different ways. There are many possible sexual encounters that raise the risk of exposure to an STI.

One of the most common ways for an STI to spread is through oral sex. But anal sex, the use of sex toys, or even simple skin-to-skin contact may lead to an STI if the partners don't use protection.

Keep in mind that pregnancy is possible too, even when partners are virgins and having penetrative sex for the very first time.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

    • Ask them to share their sexual history with you and share yours with them.
    • Use an external (or internal) 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 STI 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. Be aware that some STIs can occur through other types of contact. One or both of you could have an asymptomatic infection without knowing it. Use safer sex practices.

  • Which STIs 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—you're most at risk from STIs through other types of sexual activity. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B are all easily transmitted via oral sex.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STD risk and oral sex - CDC fact sheet.

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  4. Degenhardt L, Charlson F, Stanaway J, et al. Estimating the burden of disease attributable to injecting drug use as a risk factor for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2016;16(12):1385-1398. doi:10.1016/s1473-3099(16)30325-5.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes—CDC fact sheet.

  7. Planned Parenthood. Can I get any sort of diseases from my boyfriend fingering me?

  8. National Health Service. Are sex toys safe?

  9. Planned Parenthood. Can you get pregnant the first time you have sex?

  10. Johns Hopkins Health. Safer Sex Guidelines.

  11. Center for Young Women's Health. I really want to have sex with my partner. It's both of our first times. Pregnancy aside, do we need to protect form STDs if we are both virgins? Could we get an STD from each other if neither of us have ever had the chance to get them?

  12. Planned Parenthood. Can you get STDs even if you're a virgin?

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.