STDs Expert Forum
Please Help: Skin to Skin Contact--Confused
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Please Help: Skin to Skin Contact--Confused

Hi Doctor--for what it's worth, I should stress what many folks probably tell you all the time...your work is very much appreciated here and you are making a difference in the world..thanks for what you do here.  Well, here's my problem that has me freaked out:

I got myself in a situation which I know it may sound harmless compared to some stuff, but hear me out...I've been stressed...

Basically, I had an incident a week ago where a guy rubbed up against my backside with his penis for a few seconds.  I'm a guy, and don't usually have contact with other guys of this nature but this incident just happened (not worth going into more background).  To be specific--there was direct skin to skin contact with my buttocks for a couple of seconds with his penis, until I pulled away.  No anal or oral sex, just this couple of stupid seconds of skin to skin contact on my backside.  My problem is that since I don't have eyes in the back of my head, I can't know for certain how close this guy's penis came to the inside crack of my buttocks where (as my mind goes in analyzing every second) there could of been a brief exposure to mucus membrane tissue.  He was rubbing against me previously with my clothes on, but then pulled down my shorts for a second and this happened!!  So, there was rubbing, but it was brief..whether it was 2 seconds or 5 seconds I can't be sure...I called some hotlines and they were reassuring as to my risk, but the question of genital warts came up that has me freaked out.  

So, I have 4 questions:

1) My prior understanding was that genital warts (and HSV for that matter) were spread with direct contact with mucuos membrane tissue (usually through sex) or through skin contact where one would have a sore/cut/open wound of some sort.  Intact skin would protect you.  However, one hotline told me that contact just requires "like skin."  And, that the scenario I described above would put me at some risk for warts.  I'm confused here...can you clarify if contact like I described puts me at risk for any STD, including genital warts??  


2) I'm also confused about the entire concept of mucous membrane tissue.  I know it's the skin around the openings of your body (i.e. eyes, penis, rectum) but when it comes to the anus, how far does the mucuos membrane tissue expand where one is at risk by contact with skin or fluid?  Is it the immediate skin tissue around the anus or does it include the tissue that is in the crack of one's buttocks?  Is brief contact with this tissue enough to transmit viruses?

3) If this guy had pre-*** on his penis (this drives me insane going down this road of thinking), are my risks any different..I don't think this was the case, but again, I don't have eyes in the back of my head.  

4) Most importantly---am I overreacting and should I be freaked out...given I have never had an STD in my life, the issue scares me to death.  Do I need testing for anything?



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The brief reply is that the exposure you describe didn't put you at risk for anything.  Your own statement "may sound harmless compared to some stuff" is accurate.  Most important, the STDs transmitted by skin-skin (or mucous membrane to skin), such as HPV, HSV and syphilis, aren't passed by mere superficial contact; the infectious agent typically has to be "massaged" into the surface.  That's why warts and genital herpes lesions generally appear at areas of maximum friction during sex, and not on other areas (e.g., the scrotum, groin) that regularly come into contact with partners' genital fluids.

1) The brief, superficial contact you describe is zero risk or close to it.

2) By definition, mucous membranes contain mucus-secreting glands.  Most internal body cavities are lined by mucous membranes--mouth, nose, rectum, urethra, etc (although the vaginal lining is not technically a mucous membrane; and not the ear canals).  For most of those cavities, the mucous membrane typically begins somewhat inside the opening--an inch or so up the anus, the inside of the mouth but not the visible parts of the lips, and so on.  In other words, there is no way the event you described exposed the more susceptible mucous membranes of your rectum.

3) Infection risk even if there was pre-***?  No chance.

4) Overreacting?  Yes.  You don't need testing.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
5 Comments
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I think your only realistic risk for an std is hpv but I dont even know how likely that is.  That said I believe you are over reacting and you'll be fine.  Stay calm while you await for the doctor.  Then put the situation behind you.
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you're awesome Doc---thanks for the thoroughness of your reply and the service you and MedHelp provide...I can sleep (and go on with my life) much better now.  Much appreciated.
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A related discussion, genital herpes transmission was started.
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