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STIs can be non-genital as well and here’s how you can test them

Most people believe that STIs can happen only in genital areas, but that’s not the case at all. Non-genital STIs are quite common, and can show up in areas like mouth, eyes, thighs and more. Here’s all you need to know
non-genital STIs
Don’t delay getting tested for non-genital STIs. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Updated: 6 Nov 2023, 08:23 pm IST
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When we hear of sexually transmitted infections, the first thought that comes to mind is that they will affect genital areas. But, is it so? Well, let’s get all the facts straight. These infections can also occur in non-genital areas like the eyes, mouth or throat or even the skin. Yes ladies, they cannot be ruled out in any way, and which is why it is essential to get tested at the slightest suspicion. 

But before we get to that, it’s time to understand how these infections are transmitted. In case you are in contact with your partner’s infected genital, anal mucosa or semen/vaginal fluids, then there’s a high chance of you contracting the infection. It could be spread by a contaminated hand, finger or even through sex toys. 

Some of the most common non-genital STIs are herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV) and syphilis. Of course, in most cases, they appear on the genitals, but there’s no such rule. There are cases when herpes and HPV have happened on thighs, stomach, buttocks, or even the mouth or eyes. What’s more, syphilis can also appear on the face. Non-genital STIs can also happen in your mouth, in case you have performed oral sex on an infected person. It’s important to note that certain STIs like HIV, hepatitis or neurosyphilis don’t show any signs on your genitals.

Also read: These are the symptoms of the 6 most-common and painful STIs

Also, if you got tested for genital STIs doesn’t mean you can’t have non-genital STIs. 

non-genital STIs
STI testing is important even if you are sexually active or not. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Are there any specific symptoms?

As mentioned above, there might be no symptoms in case of certain non-genital STIs. For others, there are distinct signs. For instance, herpes shows up in the form of itchy and painful lesions that can appear in the mouth, face, eyes or hands. When it comes to syphilis, there’s a painless sore in the area through which the bacteria enters your body. It is most commonly seen on hands and the mouth. On the other hand, HPV causes brown-coloured cauliflower-shaped warts that appear on the face, mouth, hands, and other parts of your body. 

Also, read: Ladies, oral sex can give you STIs. Here 5 ways to stay protected

How do you get tested?

If you have a doubt, don’t wait. Get yourself tested without any delay. But is the test different from a regular STI test? In case of a non-genital STI, the process will follow taking a blood test, urine sample as well as a swab test. The swab is generally taken from the area where the infection has appeared. A mouth swab can also be taken. If you think there’s a high chance of you contracting a specific STI, make sure you let your doctor know about it. Also, remember symptoms take some time to appear. In certain cases, they can be seen within days, while others take 2-4 weeks; others take months. For instance, if you are sure you are exposed to an STI, just get tested; don’t even wait for the symptoms to show up. You could also get yourself annually tested. 

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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