Practice Safer Sex to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
It is easier to prevent a
sexually transmitted infection (STI) than to treat an
infection after it occurs. You can limit your exposure to STIs. Practice the
following prevention tactics:
Use a condom. It is the best way to protect yourself from
Delay sexual activity until you are prepared both physically
and emotionally to have sex.
Limit your sex partners. The safest sex is with
one partner who has sex only with you. Every time you add a new sex partner,
you are being exposed to all of the diseases that all of their partners may
Ask a potential sex partner about his or her sexual history.
You will want to know how many partners your new potential partner has had and
whether he or she has ever had an STI, including
hepatitis C, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. You will also want to know whether
that STI was treated and cured. If your new partner has an STI that is not
curable, you will want to know how best to protect yourself. You will also need
to decide whether you really want to have sex with this person, because there
is no perfect way to protect yourself.
Ask a potential sex partner
about high-risk behaviors that might increase his or her risk for a blood
disease (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV) that is transmitted by
sexual contact. High-risk behaviors include
intravenous (IV) drug use, anal sex, sex
with a prostitute, sex with a partner who has high-risk behaviors, or exchange
of sex for money or drugs.
Ask a potential sex partner to be tested
for HIV and other STIs. Use condoms for all sex until you and your partner have
not had sex with another person for a full 6 months. After 6 months, get tested
again before you decide to have sex without condoms.
male condom or female condom every time you have sex. Latex and
polyurethane condoms do not let the viruses that cause STIs pass through, so
they offer good protection from STIs. Animal skin (lamb skin) condoms do not
protect against viruses. Do not use them for protection against
A long-term relationship with the same partner (monogamy) may
eliminate the need for condoms. Remember, you can only be sure of your own
Use a water-based lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or
Astroglide to help prevent tearing of the skin if there is a lack of
lubrication during sexual intercourse. Small tears in the vagina during vaginal
sex or in the rectum during anal sex allow STIs to get into your
symptoms of STIs and do not have sex with anyone who
has these symptoms.
Remember that anyone can have an STI and not
have any symptoms.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.