Does Washing Up After Sex Prevent STDs?
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.
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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:
- Washing genital organs after unsafe sex
I had an unprotected sex with a lady a week ago. She has just tested positive to HIV test. I washed my penis with soap and water in about 5 minutes after sex.
- I am getting married soon and am afraid of getting HIV
We had protected sex throughout the whole process. After sex, I had a quick wash before going home to take a bath again to make sure I am clean.