Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 13, 2011

Is it possible to catch an STD from contact with clothing...like worn panties?

My friend of many years enjoys sucking on the crotch of my worn panties. Recently, I became aware that I am not the only dish on the table, which brings me to my question: if a woman has a STD, and my friend "dines" on her panties, is it possible for him to pass a disease to me through kissing or through oral sex?   

answered by
Linda Lesondak, PhD on September 13, 2011

Thank you for writing in. The conditions needed to spread a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can be confusing. Allow me to help you sort some of the information...but to  know for sure if you have an STD, I encourage you to get tested ⎼ it’s the only way to know for sure. 
 
Generally speaking, the viruses and bacterias that cause STDs don’t survive long on surfaces or clothing. So it’s unlikely that your friend could contract a disease from someone else’s panties, and then infect you. 
 
That said, it is possible to contract an STD from any other sexual activity...including oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex or naked dry humping. Unless you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship in which you and your partner have both tested negative for STDs (or been treated if you tested positive), using protection during all sexual activities is a good idea to help prevent STDs. Using a condom during vaginal or anal sex, and using a condom or dental dam during oral sex can greatly reduce your risk of contracting an STD. 
 
Keep in mind that most STDs don’t show any signs or symptoms or a long time...so you can’t tell if someone has an STD just by looking. Luckily, regular STD testing can confirm that you’re negative for common STDs, or prompt you to get treated if necessary. 
 
For more detailed information about STD risk factors, prevention and testing, you can browse our Expert Guide to STD Basics
 
Thanks again for writing. I wish you and your friend good health. 
 
Related info:

Linda Lesondak, PhD

Dr. Lesondak is a Community Psychologist with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Her areas of expertise include STDs, HIV, preventive care, public health and community planning, as well as human sexuality and women’s health. Dr. Lesondak was educated at Georgia University in Atlanta.

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