STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are spread by sexual contact and can affect anyone. The truth of the matter is that if you’re sexually active, you can get an STI – which is why it’s so important to know how to protect yourself. Read and share the tips below – and if you’re sexually active, put them into practice to make sex safer. Safer is always better.
Many people get STIs. In the U.S., there are about 20 million new cases each year.
1. Get vaccinated.
Two common STIs can be prevented by vaccination: human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.
2. Have fewer sex partners.
When you have fewer sex partners, you are less likely to be exposed to STIs; it doesn’t have to mean you have less sex.
3. Talk about it.
Talking can make sex better, and it’s a great way to be sure your partner wants to have sex (consents). While you’re at it, talk about your sexual histories, STIs and protection.
4. Get tested.
People who have an STI often don’t know it. Both you and your partner should get tested and share the results with each other.
Many STIs cause no obvious symptoms, which is why getting tested is so important.
5. Be responsible toward your sexual partner.
If you have symptoms of an STI, do not risk giving it to your partner. Get tested and treated, and don’t have any sexual contact until the STI is gone. If you find out that you have an STI, let your recent partners know so they can get tested too.
6. Don’t ignore the signs.
If your partner appears to have symptoms of an STI, don’t have sex. Why chance it? Wait until your partner has been tested and treated and is infection-free.
7. Choose your own adventure.
Choose sexual activities that don’t involve exchanging bodily fluids. There are many low-risk ways to have sexy fun.
8. Use a barrier method.
Barriers (e.g., condoms and dental dams made of latex or polyurethane) reduce the risk of infection if they cover the exposed or infected area. They must be used correctly and consistently – but they are not a guarantee against STIs.
9. Keep your sex toys clean.
If you use sex toys, protect them with a condom or clean them well before and after each use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
10. Use lubricants or lubricated condoms.
But make sure the lube is water-based. Oil-based lube destroys latex, making condoms and dental dams ineffective.
For more information on the various health products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of health guides, including Sexually Transmitted Infections.