The Good News: STDs ARE preventable. There are steps you can take to keep yourself and your partner(s) healthy. Here are a few you can take to avoid giving or getting an STD:
Using protection correctly every time you have sex can help you avoid STDs. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STDs. However, you can still get certain STDs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s skin even when using a condom.
- Step-by-step male condom instructions
- Step-by-step female condom instructions
- Step-by-step dental dam instructions
Condoms can be expected to provide different levels of protection for various STDs, depending on differences in how the diseases or infections are transmitted. Male condoms may not cover all infected areas or areas that could become infected. Thus, they are likely to provide greater protection against STDs that are transmitted only by genital fluids (STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and HIV infection) than against infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, which may or may not infect areas covered by a condom (STDs such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus [HPV] infection, syphilis, and chancroid).
Practice honesty and transparency with your sexual partner(s). If you are in a relationship, let your partner(s) know immediately if you have been exposed to an STI from another person. Keeping communication lines clear between you and your partner can prevent you and them from unknowingly spreading an STI in future sexual encounters.
Talk with your sex partner(s) about STDs and staying safe before having sex. It might be uncomfortable to start the conversation, but protecting your health is your responsibility.
Get Vaccinated. The most common STD can be prevented by a vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.
Who should get the HPV vaccine?
- Routine vaccination for boys & girls ages 11 to 12
- Catch-up vaccination for:
- Young women ages 13 to 26 and young men ages 13 to 21
- Gay, Bisexual, & other Men who have sex with Men up to age 26
- Men with compromised immune systems up to age 26
If You Test Positive…
Getting an STD is not the end! Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. If either you or your partner is infected with an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected.
For more information about sexual health, resources and treatment visit our Sexual Health page!