[Question #594] Possibility of STI through used dildo

42 months ago
Hello. 
I have had two interactions that have been risky. Both of them involve the use of sex toys from a woman's box in her room. The dildos were dry, but I am unsure that they were clean. This woman is older and been married for a few decades. I have no suspicion that she would have an std. However, I do know that she does have HPV. I performed oral sex with the sex toy 2 years ago and got tested twice for the incident. Everything came up negative both times. I recently (4 weeks ago) made the mistake of touching the dildos out of curiosity. They were dry. I washed my hands after touching them, but masturbated afterwards. The dildos hadn't been used for at least 6-12 hours. 

Was I at risk for an STD or HIV? Or HPV? I have had the vaccine before this last interaction, but am unsure if I had it before the first interaction.

Should I be tested? Will the tests show dormant viruses? My anxiety might be getting the best of me.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
42 months ago
Welcome to our form. I will be happy to comment.   I think you may over estimate how easily STIs are transmitted.  The risk of the event you describe is virtually zero.  Most people do not have STIs and, even when they do, even most direct genital exposures to infected partners do not lead to infection.   In addition, even in the unlikely situation that there were pathogen's present parentheses see below) acquisition of infection but touching and infected surface is simply not something that happens.  Thus if all you did was touch the dill do, this was a no risk event.  This is the case even if you masturbated after touching the dildo.  

Few STI's are transmitted through the use of an animate objects. There are several reasons for this.  First, transfer of genital secretions on inanimate objects or for that matter on one person's hands from person to person rarely lead to infection.  This is because the organisms which cause STI's are quite fragile and die quickly on exposure to the environment.  In addition a dilutional effect occurs so that with each transfer fewer and fewer organisms are transferred.  In the instance you describe the fact that 4 to 5 hours had passed (at least) since the dildo was last used means that there would certainly be no living micro organisms present which could cause infection.  

There is no risk of acquiring any STI including HPV or HIV from the activity you describe. There is no reason for concern. There is no reason at all for testing. I would not worry further.  I hope this comment is helpful to you.  EWH
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42 months ago
This is wonderful news. Thank you for your response. 

In the first interaction (performing oral sex in the toy) would you give the same conclusion? It had been atleast 12 hours in the instance since it had last been used. Still no worries? I had been tested twice - it would seem logical to conclude I am okay, but I didn't not want to ask for your opinion.

I have also heard about the possibility of HPV staying on vibrators/dildos for up to 24 hours? Is that possible? 

Thank you again.
42 months ago
I have not received a response on my last question. 

To add: I have never shown symptoms that have been concerning except I did get tested for genital herpes for a lump, but it again came back negative.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
42 months ago

Sorry, I missed your follow-up questions.

When I said "There is no risk of acquiring any STI including HPV or HIV from the activity you describe.", this included if you had put the dildo in your mouth.  No Risk.

While there have been concerns about HPV persistence on sex toys there are few data on this topic, This is not a major concern with a dildo or sex toy that was not being used by someone else at the time of contact.  Further, concerns about HPV acquisition, particularly if you have been vaccinated.  I urge you not to worry further and move forward without concern.  EWH

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42 months ago
Im relieved about your response. Thank you so much. I'm grateful for your expertise.

You can close the discussion now.