Dear Em & Lo, Can I Get Trichomoniasis From Masturbation?

Dear Em & Lo, If I masturbate 3 times a day 7 days a week and haven’t had a real sex partner in over a year, can I get trichomoniasis? — Red Handed

Dear RH,

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, most commonly passed from genitals to genitals. It doesn’t normally infect the hands. So it’s not like you could have picked it up from a handrail and then passed it onto your genitals during masturbation. Nor does it usually infect the mouth. So it’s not like you could have picked it up by kissing an infected person, then later licking your hand, and passing it onto your genitals during masturbation. The majority of those infected don’t show symptoms; with those who do, symptoms usually develop within 5 to 28 days after infection. BUT for some people, it can take much longer for symptoms to appear. And if left untreated, trichomoniasis can stick around for years. 

So, if you’ve been tested and diagnosed by a doctor, then you likely got the infection last year from a sexual partner, and it’s just taken awhile for the symptoms to show up.

You cannot get a sexually transmitted infection from masturbation, unless you’re sharing sex toys with an infected partner. You might get a little sore or irritated from the following:

  • not giving your genitals enough downtown between sessions
  • being too rough with yourself
  • not using lube (can you say “rug burn”?)
  • using lube you’re allergic to
  • not cleaning your hands and toys properly beforehand
  • using novelty toys made with suspect materials or rough seams

But none of these practices will give you an STD.

If, on the other hand, you’re self-diagnosing — i.e. your own symptoms seem to match up with a Web MD search of trichomoniasis — then the first thing you should do is go see a gynecologist/urologist/doctor to be examined and tested for STIs and other genital infection (e.g. a yeast infection).

If it turns out you’re infection-free, then it’s probably time to give your genitals a little more tender loving care during your self-loving sessions. Quantity shouldn’t matter too much if you’re good about quality. Use an organic lube, play with only high-quality sex toys made with food-grade materials, clean them and your hands properly before and after, and try not to rough-up your naughty bits, even if that’s how they really like it.

With tender love,

Em & Lo

When it comes to STD transmission…
How Risky Is Oral Sex?



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