Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and is caused by viruses that can also be contracted when having sex. You can get vaccinated against the two most common types of hepatitis, hepatitis A and B.
The Hepatitis A virus is excreted via the gut and taken into the mouth, usually through contaminated water (including ice!) or contaminated and insufficiently heated food such as mussels or salad. But the virus is also quickly caught during sex, for example, through rimming or indirectly when fingers migrate to the mouth after contact with the hole, a used condom or dildo, or with a shared lubricant container.
The Hepatitis B virus is mainly found in the blood, but also in other body fluids. It is extremely infectious and can be transmitted very easily during sex, via a small bleed in the mouth and in case of a high viral load even through kissing. It can also be transmitted through drug use (for example, by sharing tubes for snorting), tattooing and piercing, and by sharing or mixing up toothbrushes, shaving equipment or the like.
How hepatitis A and B present themselves
Hepatitis often goes unnoticed or is not recognized immediately, because no symptoms occur or the symptoms are mild and can be confused with those of the flu: mild fever, loss of appetite, headache, and nausea. You commonly feel a reluctance to eat fatty foods or drink alcohol. Also typical are stomach and joint pains. In rare cases the skin and eyes turn yellow ("icterus"), the urine becomes dark and the stool light. Hepatitis A always heals, hepatitis B becomes chronic in about 5-10% of all cases, even more frequently in HIV-positive people. If a chronic hepatitis B is left untreated, it can lead to an aggressive course with decreasing liver function; eventually even a cirrhosis of the liver with permanent liver damage. Cirrhosis of the liver can develop into hepatocellular cancer.
There is no therapy against the hepatitis A virus itself. However, the symptoms can be treated. After two to six weeks of treatment the symptoms will subside and from now on you are immune to the disease. There is also no specific therapy for acute hepatitis B; it usually heals after some time by itself. If you have chronic hepatitis B, medication can be used to cure the disease or at least stop the virus from multiplying and the disease from progressing. The treatment can be lengthy and is usually associated with some side effects.
Protection through vaccination
Condoms only slightly reduce the risk of an infection. If you want to be on the safe side, you should get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. If you have already been through a hepatitis A or B infection, you are protected against a reinfection.
You can get vaccinated at your doctor‘s. And if you say that you have multiple sex partners, it's even free of charge. Usually, you will receive three injections within a six-month-period. Four weeks after the last vaccination, the success of the inoculation is checked through a blood sample. You cannot miss the check!
Sources of risk for hepatitis A:
- insufficiently washed fruit and vegetables
- contaminated drinking water
- raw or undercooked seafood
- contact with used condoms and dildos
- shared lubricant container
Sources of risk for hepatitis B:
- small bleed in the mouth
- at a high viral load also through kissing
- sharing tubes when snorting (drug use)
- tattooing and piercing
- sharing or confusing toothbrushes, shaving equipment or the like