How do I prevent STDs?
STD (sexually transmitted diseases) actually aren’t that hard to prevent, check out these risk reduction methods below that keep you healthy and help you start the conversation about sexual health.
The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. But it is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention.
Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.
Reduce Number of Sex Partners
Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.
Low Risk Sexual Activity
Masturbating with your partner can reduce the chances of infection.
Avoiding penetration and body fluids can significantly decrease your risk factor for contracting an STD/STI.
Kissing with your partner is an option to achieve intimacy while reducing the chances of acquiring an infection.
For those at very high risk for HIV, PrEP can significantly reduce your risk of HIV infection if taken daily. Daily PrEP use can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. You can combine additional strategies with PrEP to reduce your risk even further.
Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
Talking about your sexual health with intimate partners, and health care providers can reduce your chances of being infected. Not all check-ups check for all STDs. Talk with your partner about when you were last tested and if you have any STDs (including HIV). For tips on how to start this conversation click here.
Getting tested regularly can reduce you chances of co-infection (being infected with more than one STD). It’s recommended to get tested every three to six months.