Can You Get an STD From Masturbating?

And Is It Safe to Masturbate While Being Treated for an STD?

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Masturbation and STDs are two topics that people are often reluctant to discuss. That's true individually, but it's even truer when you put the topics together. People are often concerned about whether or not it's safe to masturbate while undergoing STD treatment, and, more often, whether it is possible to get an STD from masturbation.

Understanding how STDs are spread can help people get a better idea of the risks from masturbation. However, there's one thing that everyone should be clear on: If you don't have an STD, you can't get one from masturbating. The only exception to that is if you're using an infected sex toy to masturbate with, but that is unlikely.

If you don't have an STD, you won't get one from masturbation unless it is transmitted by an infected object such as a sex toy. If you have an STD, the safety of masturbation depends on your diagnosis.

Masturbation and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Whether or not it's safe to masturbate when you have an STD depends on what STD you have.

Sexually-Associated Infections

It's reasonably safe to masturbate with sexually-associated infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. That's true even if you're using a local treatment, such as a cream or suppository. However, with these diseases, there are some precautions you should take. If you masturbate with sex toys or other objects you should be certain to cover them with condoms and/or disinfect them thoroughly between masturbation sessions. If you don't, those same toys could end up harboring germs, becoming a fomite (an object that carries an infectious organism). Then, playing with those toys could end up reinfecting you at a later date.

Skin-to-Skin Transmitted STD

If you are infected with a treatable STD that spreads by skin-to-skin contact, the answer is different. You will want to be cautious about masturbating. You can still masturbate, you should just be thoughtful about doing so when sores are present. It is possible to spread diseases such as molluscum or herpes around your body through a process known as autoinoculation. If you touch a sore, you can move infectious material to another part of your skin and start to get sores there. Therefore, you should try to avoid touching active sores or disease lesions during masturbation. It is also possible to end up with infectious material trapped under your nails. Therefore, masturbation or mutual masturbation with gloved hands can be a good option.

Important STI's That Are Spread Through Skin Contact

HIV and Hepatitis

Finally, masturbation is very safe sex for people with HIV or hepatitis. It is not possible to reinfect yourself with these viruses. However, you should be careful about masturbating in a shared environment. If you do that, be certain to clean up after a session to avoid the risk of exposing anyone you live/work/play with to potentially infectious biological fluids. Potentially infectious secretions include semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and breast milk.

Masturbation When Being Treated For STDs

It is generally safe to masturbate while you are being treated for bacterial STDs such as chlamydiagonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. These STDs are treated systemically with antibiotics. They also aren't spread by skin to skin contact. However, it's important to remember that when being treated for a bacterial STD, you should practice safe sex. That will help you to avoid infecting a partner until you (or both of you) are done with treatment. However, there's no reason not to masturbate as much as you want.

In general, you can think about it this way. If the STD treatment you're using is systemic, it's probably safe to masturbate. In other words, if you're taking a pill or being given medication through a shot, your whole body is being treated. You're therefore not at significant risk of reinfecting yourself.

However, if you're being treated with creams or other local treatments, be careful. Those treatments are usually used for infections of the skin that are easy to move from one place to another. Treating one area doesn't protect the other areas of your body from becoming infected.

Mutual Masturbation and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Mutual masturbation is when you and a partner sexually arouse each other using your hands. It can also involve you each masturbating, but near each other. In general, mutual masturbation is relatively safe sex. That's particularly true if no bodily fluids are transmitted.

There are, however, ways to make mutual masturbation even safer. If you are touching your genitals, you can wash your hands before touching your partner's genitals—or vice versa. You can also consider using gloved hands to touch your partner and bare hands to touch yourself. Either one of these things makes it less likely that you would spread an infection between you.

In general, STDs that spread through bodily fluids—such as HIV and chlamydia—are relatively unlikely to be spread through mutual masturbation. There's a bigger risk for STDs that spread from skin to skin, such as herpes and molluscum.

Making Masturbation Safer

People don't always know when they are infected with an STD. Therefore, here are some things that can make masturbation safer without making it less fun.

  1. Wash your hands before and after masturbation. This helps you avoid transferring bacteria or other pathogens to or from your genitals. You should also clean under your nails regularly and/or keep them short. 
  2. Avoid touching your eyes while you are masturbating. The eyes are mucosal surfaces, just like the genital region. This means they are susceptible to a number of STDs. Furthermore, ocular STD infections can be extremely nasty. If untreated, they can even lead to blindness.
  3. Always clean any sex toys you use thoroughly after use.
  4. Never share sex toys without covering them with condoms or disinfecting them thoroughly.
  5. If you find pimples, sores, or other strange bumps while masturbating, immediately go and wash your hands. Then try to avoid touching them. Although they may not be STD related, it's better to be careful. You do not want to end up moving bacteria around your genitals if you can avoid it. Furthermore, you may want to consider seeing your doctor or visiting an STD clinic for screening. That will allow you to make sure that you do not have an infection.
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