The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  • Email Email
  • Comments Comments
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary


Does Washing Up After Sex Prevent STDs?

August 16, 2016

No, washing yourself after sex doesn't lower the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. The time to protect yourself is while you are having sex, for example by using a condom.

In fact there is some evidence that washing after sex can actually increase the risk of acquiring HIV. Several studies have found that heterosexual men and women who report regularly washing after sex are more likely to acquire HIV than individuals who do not.

Scientists are not sure why this is, but it could be that washing removes enzymes in vaginal secretions that help neutralise HIV, that it causes abrasions or that soap is an irritant.


Similarly, washing the vagina or rectum before sex, especially if soap or anything other than plain water is used, is thought to increase vulnerability to infection.

More on Safer Sex at

To find out more about safer sex, we recommend the following articles:

In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about washing after sex in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:

  • Email Email
  • Comments Comments
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
Ten Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Is HIV the Only Incurable Sexually Transmitted Disease?
The HIV-STD Connection
More on Sexually Transmitted Diseases

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining: