Whether it’s an ad for birth control pills or the latest in condoms or lubricants, most manufacturers don’t portray any message other than “buy my product.” But if you arm yourself with knowledge and your choice of contraceptive, you can avoid contracting — or spreading — a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If you and your partner are not using protection, you are engaging in risky sexual behavior by exposing yourself to STIs and the possibility of pregnancy.
Condoms/oral barriers are the only methods that provides protection against STIs.
Some precautions you can take to avoid infection:
- The only 100 percent effective way to prevent HIV, other STIs and pregnancy is abstinence from vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.
- If you are sexually active, the correct and consistent use of a latex condom/oral barrier can reduce the risk of STI transmission.
- Birth control is important, but remember: Pills, IUDs, and the like only protect against pregnancy, not STIs. Make sure you cover all your bases!
- If you do engage in unprotected sex, see a doctor and get tested regularly so you can treat any infections you may have, thus decreasing the potential to pass an STI on to others.
- Bedsider.org: Free daily, weekly or monthly text or email reminders for birth control and/or health center appointments. (Operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.)
- ItsYourSexLife.org: Learn how to best protect yourself, as well as talk to your partner and health care provider comfortably about how you feel about sex and protection. (Official website of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s It’s Your (Sex) Life public information campaign.)
- SexPositive App: It’s difficult to predict when you may need access to sexual health information. With SexPositive, judgement-free information about STIs, safety, communication tips and healthy advice are available on your smartphone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- SHCC.ufl.edu/sex: The “Sexual Health” area of the UF Student Health Care Center website provides information on STI prevention, testing and treatment options, as well as tips for a healthier you and related campus resources.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/sexualhealth.