Aunt Vadge: can I get an STD from kissing?

Dear Aunt Vadge,

Is it possible to get an STD from kissing?


Age: 39
Country: USA

Dear Confused,

This is a bit of a tricky topic because microbes have many different routes into our bodies, with sexually transmitted infections having a specific criteria attached to classify them as an STI. Kissing passes on a plethora of germs, but only a couple can be then transferred to the genitals or infect the mouth or throat.

Generally, the answer is no, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Gonorrhoea can infect the throat, and herpes simplex 1 and 2 infect/affect both the mouth and genitals. Herpes of the mouth (HSV1) can be passed on by kissing, but it only occasionally appears on the genitals. If you put your mouth on someone’s mouth who has had an infected genital in their mouth very recently (including your own) you could spread the infection.

Kissing is a rare way to pass STIs to the point where we would not consider it a real risk or need to take preventative measures besides not kissing someone with any kind of mouth or throat infection.

So while it is possible, it is highly unlikely and you should take normal precautions with sex and oral sex, but feel confident that you can kiss your life away with wild abandon.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge


Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.