Not Sexually Exclusive: STDs That Can Infect Other Parts of the Body

Don’t let the name fool you — sexually transmitted diseases aren’t strictly exclusive to sexual organs. STDs can affect parts of the body other than sexual organs and parts of the reproductive system. Some STDs exist in bodily fluids or on this skin’s surface and can affect the eyes, throat, mouth, and anus.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes can infect eye tissue if you have touched parts of the body that contain traces of these diseases, and then your eye.

Besides affecting the genitals, anus, and eyes, gonorrhea can also set up shop in the throat. These throat infections are transmitted via oral sex. Gonorrhea can be life-threatening if it spreads to the blood and joints of the body.

Aside from infecting the genitals, HPV (Human Papillomavirus) can infect the mouth and throat. Some strains of the virus can cause oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat, pharynx, tonsils, and/or tongue).

Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum, and causes sores or chancres to appear at the sight of infection. These sores can appear on the genitals, anus, in the rectum, on the lips, or in the mouth. This means that not only can sex or sexual acts lead to contracting syphilis, but also that prolonged kissing with someone who has a syphilis sore on their lips or in their mouth can lead to acquiring the infection. They can also appear on the fingers, breasts, and nipples, so there’s that…

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Speaking of kissing, oral herpes (HSV-1) can be transmitted by kissing and by skin-to-skin contract from the shedding of active viral cells.

Both Hepatitis B and C, and HIV can be transmitted through blood. Contracting these STDs can occur anywhere on the body if you have an open wound or cut. This is why it is important to never share needles (or do drugs in the first place!) and to be sure that if you are getting a tattoo, the equipment is properly sterilized first.

What have we learned? Practice safe sex, including safe oral sex. Don’t share needles. Don’t get tattooed from anyone sketchy, and learn your STD status!

Medically Reviewed by on December 4, 2023

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Author: Nick Corlis

Nick Corlis is a writer, marketer, and designer. He graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Digital Communications. Nick is proud to be able to help eliminate the stigma of STD testing through his writing and is always trying to advocate the importance of your sexual health. Before STDcheck, his favorite way to develop his writing skills was by accepting various writing jobs in college and maintaining multiple blogs. Nick wears many hats here at STDcheck, but specifically enjoys writing accurate, well-researched content that is not only informative and relatable but sometimes also contains memes. When not writing, Nick likes to race cars and go-karts, eat Japanese food, and play games on his computer.