Tribbing, scissoring or “smashing boxes” can potentially pass sexually transmitted infections like herpes, syphilis, pubic lice, and HPV. There may also be a low risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV, if there are vaginal fluids or blood involved.
Vagina is a commonly misunderstood word. The vagina is the inside canal that connects to the uterus. Vulva is the term for the external organs, which includes the labia majora and minora, the clitoris, the urethra opening (for peeing) and the vagina opening. So in this case we are talking about rubbing vulvas together without clothes.
We recommend all sexually active people build routine STI testing into their health appointments. During a testing appointment, a sexual health assessment is usually done. This is an opportunity to let the clinician know what kind(s) of sex you are having (rubbing vulvas, having oral, vaginal or anal sex, sharing sex toys, you name it…) so that they can help you decide which tests are best for you. Often STI testing involves blood work or a urine sample, but sometimes it may require a swab of the throat, vagina or rectum. Being open about your sexual activity can help the clinician get a better idea of what to test for.
People can test more frequently if they have unprotected sex with a new partner or multiple partners, use injection drugs, or are thinking of becoming pregnant.
Unfortunately, there are no safer sex tools like condoms for rubbing vulvas together. We just encourage you to continue to get STI testing and talk to your partner(s) about it too.