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Vaginal to anal to vaginal again, is this dangerous?

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spike asks:

I'm a nearly 16 year old woman who needs help...A while ago and recently, my boyfriend fingered me vaginal to anal to vaginal, but not sex. I've recently read that you can get serious vaginal infections from passing bacteria from the anus to the vagina. Am I OK to leave it be because it wasn't sex, or should I still get it checked out, just to be on the safe side?

Sarah replies:

You know, as a culture we've somehow developed an awfully funny idea of what is "sex" and what isn't "sex" that seems pretty darn arbitrary. Think about it, manual sex, oral sex, anal sex...all those things have the word sex in them. So quite honestly, from a sexual health and public health standpoint, they are all just as much sex as is intercourse. Each activity can have STI and/or pregnancy risks. So it is unwise to think that just because something doesn't involve a penis in a vagina, it somehow isn't "real" sex.

Yes, it is absolutely possible to transmit bacteria from the anus to the vagina via manual sex (fingering), and those infections can be/become very dangerous. The best thing to do is prevent that sort of thing from happening, and luckily it's pretty darn easy to do. The easiest way to do this is by using gloves (or finger cots) and lube (which is a good idea for ANY anal activity anyway since the anus does not self-lubricate, thus artificial lube is crucial for preventing tearing and injury) and then changing the glove between anal and vaginal contact. If you are not going to use gloves, it's crucial to stop and wash your hands (or your partner's hands) before switching from one to the other. This means thorough washing, not just wiping off or a quick rinse. Bacteria can hide under the nails or on cuticles or calluses, so you want to get anything that comes into contact with the anus REALLY clean before putting it into contact with your vagina. It really takes very little bacteria to get an infection going. Heck, women can develop infections from wiping the wrong way (that's why you never want to wipe back-to-front). Even wearing thongs can transmit that bacteria around sometimes. So unprotected anal to vaginal sexual contact of any sort where you haven't changed gloves or washed hands can definitely lead to infection.

Since you are sexually active, it would be wise to start getting regular sexual health care and starting to take steps to protect yourself and your partner. Right now, it would be a good idea to call your health care provider or local clinic and get an appointment scheduled. That way you can go ahead and get your annual exam and STI screening done and you can make sure you haven't started up an infection from this contact. You should also keep an eye on your vaginal health to look for any weird symptoms that might indicate you have an infection brewing and thus need to be seen ASAP. If you notice any strange discharge (unusual colors, green, smelly, cottage cheese-like, etc.), then get yourself to the doctor right away.

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