Is Monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease?

February 26, 2023

Is monkeypox a venereal, or sexually transmitted, disease (STD)? This depends upon your definition of an STD. As far as we know at this time, the virus that causes monkeypox is not transferred in semen from men or vaginal fluid from women. This would not make it an STD in the strictest sense of the word. (Although further research could change what we know so far). 

On the other hand, we do know that monkeypox is transferred from face-to-face and skin-to-skin contact. This especially includes contact with the rash, both as pustules and crusted-over lesions. Touching another person, including sexual contact, and coming in contact with clothes and bed linens used by that person, could transfer the virus. For safety’s sake it is best to limit contact with an infected person until there are no more of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash consisting of red pustules or crusts

In summary, strictly speaking monkeypox is not an STD. However, it is commonly transmitted during sexual encounters—especially with frequently changing partners—due to close skin to skin contact.

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