No, some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also commonly referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are not transmitted consistently every time an infected person has sex with someone who is not infected.
Factors Impacting STI Transmission
Several factors impact the likelihood of contracting an STI, including:
- The type of infection
- How many STIs your partner has
- How much of the infection or virus is in your bodily secretions or blood
- How long you spend having sex
- Whether you have any broken skin or open sores
- Whether you use lubricants and what type you use
- Your gender and your partner’s gender
- Your overall health and immune system
- What type of sex you engage in (anal, oral, or vaginal)
- Whether or not you use a condom
Symptoms and Viral Load
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) aren’t transmitted during every sexual encounter you have, even if your partner is infected. For example, if your partner has HIV but is receiving treatment, the amount of the infection in their bodily fluids, called the viral load, could be extremely low. Therefore, the odds of them passing it to you are low. You could contract an STI from a sexual partner during your first time having sex with that person, or it may not be transmitted to you until the hundredth time.
Many people who have STIs do not show any symptoms. Therefore, your sexual partner may not know he or she has one. The only way to be sure is to get tested regularly. Your health care provider can perform STI testing to determine whether you have contracted any of the most common infections, which include chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, HPV, HIV, syphilis, and herpes. Companies like Nurx also offer convenient at-home STI testing for certain infections.
Safe sexual practices can reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Using condoms is smart, especially if you have multiple partners.