Any harmful microorganisms. In a sexual health context, the word “pathogens” can refer to viruses, fungi, or bacteria.

Some microorganisms are primarily beneficial, but may still be referred to as pathogens for their undesirable properties. For instance, Escherichia coli (commonly known as E. coli) can cause harmful symptoms when it contaminates food, but it provides an important regulatory function for the gastrointestinal system.

In order to avoid harmful pathogens, you should always use condoms when having intercourse and take care when using, cleaning, and storing sex products.