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can you get an std if both partners are clean

By: Karen Terry

December 7, 2021

Can You Get an STD If Both You and Your Partner Are Clean?

The time has come to change the way we view people who have sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although the social stigma surrounding STDs and STIs continues to dog modern society, understanding and dealing with these conditions can go a long way towards protecting yourself and your loved ones. 

Many people often associate STDs and STIs with promiscuity and a lack of morals. However, many do not realize that people in all walks of life can spread STDs or STIs. 

So, can you get an STD if both partners are clean? At Rapid STD Testing, we have the answers. We hope they dispel the unhelpful sense of shame that surrounds discussions about STDs and STIs.

What Being “Clean” Means, and Why It’s Not Used

People often use the phrase “being clean” to connote their STI-negative status. However, this terminology also promotes the idea that people with STIs are “dirty.” We should all try to understand the STI stigma and what it means to live with an STD or STI. 

The STI stigma involves preconceptions about people with STI-positive statuses, both prior and current. Prejudice, however, is not the sole culprit behind the STI stigma. The language we use when talking about people with STIs also plays a role. People often talk about STIs as something related to a lack of personal hygiene. 

Many people with positive STI diagnoses refrain from talking about their status because of the stigma created by terms like “clean” and “dirty.” It may cause individuals with STIs to isolate themselves. 

The term “clean” implies that the opposite result is somehow “dirty.” This terminology undermines the notion that people should support each other while battling health issues. Avoiding these terms becomes imperative in promoting sex positivity and reducing the risks that untreated STIs pose.

Can Two “Clean” Partners Get an STI?

Yes, you can contract an STI from your partner even though you both received previous STI-negative diagnoses. However, transmission should only occur if you or your partner did not undergo thorough testing. 

STIs can spread if you did not receive tests for the right area of the body. For example, you may receive a negative result for genital gonorrhea but still test positive after an anal or oral swab. 

STI transmission can occur between partners during any sexual activity involving an exchange of body fluids or skin-to-skin contact. These activities include kissing, analingus, cunnilingus, oral sex, and nipple stimulation. 

Many STI-positive individuals remain asymptomatic. The absence or presence of symptoms marks the sole difference between STIs and STDs, respectively.

Factors to Consider Based on the Different Translations of Being “Clean”

What do people specifically mean by the term “clean,” and what do they imply? We need to understand the factors to consider when people use the word “clean,” and why it remains an impediment against efforts to reduce the STI stigma.

Based on the STI You Were Tested For

A common misconception exists that STIs can only spread through anal or genital sex. Many sexually active teenagers and young adults do not realize that STIs can spread via oral sex.  

Many doctors test only for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis despite requests to test for everything. Usually, they only conduct tests for genital gonorrhea and chlamydia, omitting tests for anal or oral occurrences of the diseases. 

We recommend disclosing your sexual history to your healthcare expert when you undergo any test to reduce the risk of you or your partner contracting an STI. Take advantage of Rapid STD Testing’s full 10-panel STD test, and check your status today!

Based on the STD’s Incubation Period

Some STIs and STDs remain latent in the human body and only manifest themselves after some time. The incubation period varies for each type of infection. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) reveals itself two to six months after infection, whereas chlamydia signals its presence in your system about two weeks after you indulge in sexual activities with someone infected.   

During long incubation periods, tests may return negative results. Testing after an STD completes its incubation period provides more accurate results.

Based on Whether You Have Had Sex Since the Last Testing

STI tests only detect STIs well past the latency period. The latency period represents the gap in time between when the person first contracted the infection and when the tests will identify it. STI tests fail to detect infections with an incomplete latency period. 

The lack of antibodies prior to the latency period’s completion can often result in STIs remaining undetected. You may not engage in any sexual activity for two or three months and still infect your partner when you finally do have sex. 

You can expose yourself to STIs during most forms of sexual activity. An understanding of how STIs spread can help reduce the risk. Rapid STD Testing recommends taking an STI test after having sex with a new partner or at least once every year.

Based on Your Definition of Having “Sex”

How do you define sex? Many people wrongly believe that STIs only spread through anal or vaginal sex and view oral sex as safer sex. However, you can contract STIs during any sexual activity involving skin-to-skin contact or the exchange of body fluids. 

Sexual activities like oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse can all transmit infections, including sexual play that involves the internal or external parts of the genitals, anus, and mouth. Bodily fluids, like saliva, vaginal lubrication, semen, pre-cum, breast milk, and anal secretions, all transmit various forms of STIs.

Based on the Safe Sex Practice You Used

Engaging in any form of sex raises the chances of STI transmission between partners. The potential risk of contracting STIs during sexual activities varies based on the implementation of safe sex practices. 

Sex gloves, finger cots, and condoms can reduce the chances of STI transmission. Consider using a dental dam during analingus or cunnilingus to lessen the risk. 

You can indulge in safer sex by:

  • Checking for expiration dates on barrier protection
  • Properly storing prophylactics
  • Correctly using the barrier
  • Using lubes
  • Disposing of used prophylactics

STDs You Can Get Despite the Fact that You and Your Partner Are Both “Clean”

Can you contract an STD without cheating on your partner? Contrary to popular belief, you can develop an infection even when both of you remain asymptomatic. It can sometimes result from a lack of STD tests or from taking the tests too early after a sexual act. 

Below, we discuss various STDs and how you and your partner may become infected by them, regardless of your “clean” status.

Hepatitis

You can test positive for both Hepatitis A and B despite both partners being “clean.” Hepatitis A spreads through contaminated liquid or food. Although contagious, Hepatitis A does not require treatment.

Hepatitis B, on the other hand, affects the liver and can become chronic. You can contract both Hepatitis A and B through vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can spread if an individual engages in sexual acts with an HIV-positive partner. An HIV infection develops about two to four weeks after contracting the virus. HIV destroys the immune cells in your body, rendering it incapable of fighting off other infections. 

You can develop an HIV infection due to contact with contaminated semen, blood, anal secretions, or vaginal fluids.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common bacterial STI. Individuals with chlamydia do not display symptoms in the early stages of the infection. About 70% of men and 90% of women with chlamydia remain asymptomatic. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues. 

Partners can also contract chlamydia without cheating when indulging in vaginal intercourse without a condom or through unprotected oral sex. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual chlamydia tests for women under 25 years.

Syphilis

Treponema pallidum, a type of bacteria, causes syphilis infections. Syphilis appears on sexual organs or inside the mouth and rectum. Detecting syphilis proves difficult because patients may remain asymptomatic for years. 

If left untreated, syphilis can cause damage to vital organs, like the brain or the heart. Rapid STD Testing recommends using condoms or dental dams during oral sex, avoiding shared sex toy usage, and taking regular tests for STIs. 

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by Trichomonas vaginalis. This single-celled protozoan lives in vaginal fluids or semen and spreads between partners during unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. 

Individuals with trichomoniasis develop infections in the vagina or urethra. This infection can spread because of multiple sex partners, previous trichomoniasis transmissions, and sexual acts conducted without condoms or other barrier methods. 

Untreated trichomoniasis infections can enable other STI infections, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis. It can also cause health complications, like infertility, chronic pelvic or abdominal pain, and scar tissue blockage of the fallopian tube. 

HPV

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI. It causes warts to appear in various areas of the human body. People with HPV often remain asymptomatic, and the symptoms may disappear within a year or two without any complications. 

Sometimes, HPV infections persist and cause severe health issues, including genital warts and warts in the throat. It can also result in cancer of the head, neck, genitals, and throat.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea affects warm, moist regions of the human body, such as the eyes, throat, anus, vagina, urethra, and female reproductive tract. 

You can contract gonorrhea during vaginal, oral, and anal sex if you do not use condoms or other barriers. Proper use of condoms and sexual abstinence offer the best protection against the transmission of gonorrhea. 

If left untreated, gonorrhea can result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID causes chronic pain and damages the reproductive organs. Women, due to having vaginas, stand a higher chance of contracting gonorrhea. 

Herpes

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes herpes in humans. Herpes is an STD that affects various body parts, most often the mouth or genitals. HSV comes in two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. 

HSV-1 infections usually result in oral herpes, causing blisters and cold sores to appear around the mouth and face. HSV-2 often causes genital herpes. You can develop an HSV-1 infection while engaging in oral sex. You can also contract HSV-2 by coming into contact with a viral material during oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse.

How to Prevent Contracting an STD Despite Testing Negative

Protect yourself and your loved ones from contracting STDs. Rapid STD Testing recommends following the guidelines we list below to prevent the spread of STDs.

Correct Barrier Method Usage

Using barriers correctly can go a long way toward protecting you and your partner. Ensure that you properly store your barriers. Try not to use them after their expiry dates. Use condoms the right way (following instructions) and dispose of them as soon as possible. 

You can combine barriers with lubrication. However, you should avoid oil-based lubricants if you use latex barriers.

Talk With Your Partner

Discuss your sexual history with your partner before you commit to intimacy. It remains crucial to talk because it allows you the opportunity to talk about STD tests. It also provides time to process information if one of you tests positive. 

Encourage sharing of information between partners. One-sided discussions may often end up looking accusatory. You can also ask your partners about their preferred brand of condoms or dental dams.

Undergo Regular STD Tests

How often do you need to get tested for STD? We suggest taking an STD test at least once a year or after changing sexual partners. Rapid STD Testing recommends undergoing site-specific STD tests before trying out sexual acts involving new parts of your body. 

For example, get an anal STD test if you and your partner want to try anal sex for the first time. Find an STD clinic where the doctors carry out thorough tests for every possible STD. 

Talk to your doctor about your sexual activities if you remain unsure about which tests to take. Some doctors only test for HIV, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Visit a clinic that advertises more than one or two STD tests, such as Rapid STD Testing.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Taking an STD test can help protect you and your loved ones from contracting an STI. Rapid STD Testing provides comprehensive, on-demand same-day STD tests.

Schedule an appointment for an STD test by calling us at Rapid STD Testing today at (866) 872-1888.

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By: Karen Terry
December 7, 2021

With a profound passion for making intricate medical information accessible to all, John possesses a unique ability to simplify complex concepts without sacrificing accuracy or depth. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of various healthcare fields, John is well-versed in the latest research and advancements. However, what truly sets him apart is his remarkable talent for distilling this wealth of knowledge into engaging, reader-friendly content.