Looking for convenient, discreet, at-home STI Testing? Take our simple quiz to find the right test for you. Anyone who’s sexually active has the risk of getting an STD/STI (sexually transmitted disease/infection). That said, there are certain factors that increase someone’s risk of getting an STI.

Participating in a specific behavior

Generally, STIs are transmitted through intimate contact. This includes behaviors such as kissing, touching, sharing sex toys, oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex. Body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and saliva can carry the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause STIs. So, if you participate in behavior that increases the likelihood of fluid contact you’re increasing your likelihood of infection. That being said, certain sexual acts such as receptive penetrative anal sex and vaginal sex are associated with higher rates of transmission than others.

Having unprotected sex

Not using a barrier such as a condom or oral dam allows for direct contact of body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen, vaginal fluids) with mucous membranes (i.e. the tissue that lines your mouth, nose, urethra, rectum, vagina). This allows for a point of entry for the virus or bacteria. Those that have unprotected anal sex are at an even higher risk for some infections, especially HIV.

Having multiple partners

Having multiple partners increases your exposure to potential STIs. This means you have more contact with more potential sources of STIs.

Using illicit drugs or alcohol

People make riskier choices with regards to sexual contact when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Injecting drugs also puts you at high risk for the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B through sharing needles. In addition, having a partner who uses injection drugs can put you at increased risk of these infections.

Not using lubricant

Not having enough lubrication while having sex can cause increased friction and break down in the skin. This creates a portal of entry for bacteria and viruses. If using a condom, lack of sufficient lubrication increases the risk of tearing the condom and subsequent STI exposure.

Having a previous STI

A previous infection can cause the skin to be more open through sores, irritation, or inflammation making it easier to contract a STI again.

Being young

Half of STIs occur in people aged 15-24, despite the fact that they are only 25% of the sexually active population. This increased risk is due to biological factors, insufficient education, and stigma surrounding discussing sexual health with medical providers at a younger age.

Having a vagina

People with vaginas and cervixes are more likely to get STIs. People with uteruses also experience more serious complications from STIs like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and infertility.

Just because you are more at risk of getting an STD, does not mean you will necessarily get one. Check out, “STIs: Here’s how to prevent, treat, and manage” for information on how to reduce your risk and stay healthy.