If you’re going to have sex, there really is only one way to protect yourself from contracting an STI, and that’s by practicing safe sex. And it can’t just be safe sex some of the time, or even most of the time. It really has to be every time.
The best and easiest way to protect yourself from STIs is to use either a male condom or a female condom.
You can also use condoms for protection during oral sex. This is especially important if you are unaware of your partner’s health status or if you are in a non-monogamous relationship.
It’s your responsibility to protect yourself. But here are a few pointers to help you stay protected:
• Correctly and consistently use a condom if having vaginal and/or anal intercourse. Latex condoms are the best defense against STIs. Using a little bit of water-based lubricant with condoms will make sex even safer and feel better!
• Have regular check-ups to screen for STIs, especially if you are with a new partner or have had multiple partners.
• Make sure you know the common symptoms of STIs. Read about different STIs here. Inform your doctor immediately if you notice any signs. Remember though, many STIs will not have symptoms so testing is still important.
• Avoid douching (washing out the inside of the vagina) because it removes some of the normal protective bacteria in the vagina and increases the risk of getting some STIs.
• Don’t have sex with someone who does not want to use protection, or someone who’s health status you are unaware of.
• Avoid having sex when you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When your heads not right, it’s easy to make decisions you’ll regret.