STD Prevention
Methods For Preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs

Couple using condom to prevent STD

STD Prevention

Contents

What Are The Best Methods For Preventing STDs?
Using Condoms
Get Tested Regularly
Ask Your Partner To Get Tested
Don't Mix Drink Or Drugs With Sex
Be Prepared



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STDS
What Are The Best Methods For Preventing STDs?

Unfortunately there is no magic pill or device that will protect you from sexually transmitted diseases if you have sexual intercourse with an infected partner. The only reliable way of protecting yourself from an STD is to:

Abstain from sexual intercourse (including oral, vaginal and anal sex) OR
Be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

If you don't fall into this category (and lets be honest, not many women under 25 do!), then the next best thing you can do is be consistent about using a barrier method of birth control - namely, a latex condom. While a condom will not protect you from all STDs, it will greatly reduce your risk.

Using Condoms

STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis are transmitted by genital secretions, such as urethral or vaginal secretions. If condoms are used consistently and correctly this reduces the risk significantly of catching these infections. Note the key words here are consistently and correctly. If you are having sex with a high-risk partner, you will need to use the condom every time, not 99 percent of the time. It only takes one act of unprotected sexual intercourse to become infected. Similarly the condom needs to be used correctly - that means, it needs to be put on before there is any physical contact between the vagina and penis.

The HIV virus (the virus that causes AIDs) is by far the deadliest STD. Scientific research (both real-life studies as well as laboratory studies) show that condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

Other STDs which are spread by skin-to-skin contact such as genital herpes, syphilis, chancroid, pubic lice and genital warts cannot always be prevented by condom use. These diseases are spread by contact with ulcers or sores or with infected skin which can look normal. HPV infections (a cause of cervical cancer) are also transmitted through contact with infected genital skin or secretions. If a condom covers the infected part of the skin then the disease is less likely to be transmitted (this is why female condoms, which cover a larger surface area are slightly more effective in preventing genital ulcer diseases than male condoms). If the infected skin is not covered or protected by a condom, the disease can easily pass from one person to another.

Get Tested Regularly

If you have more than one sexual partner, find out about regular STD testing, even if you show no symptoms. The CDC recommends an annual chlamydia screening test for women under 25 who are sexually active, for older women who change sexual partners and for all pregnant women. You should become familiar with the most common symptoms of STDs such as sores, rashes and unusual vaginal discharge. Most STDs are easily treated and the earlier treatment is sought the less damage it will do to your body. An early diagnosis also means you are less likely to infect other people. If you are diagnosed with an STD you will need to notify all your recent sexual partners (those that you had sex with in the previous 60 days) so they can contact a STD clinic for testing.

Ask Your Partner To Get Tested

If you are entering a new sexual relationship ask your partner to get tested for STDs first. Even though they may insist they 'feel fine' or that they don't have an STD - unless they have been tested recently, they cannot be sure. Many common STDs have no symptoms but can still be transmitted. If you or your partner needs treatment, wait until the treatment is finished before starting or resuming sexual activity or you risk passing the infection back and forth.

Don't Mix Drink Or Drugs With Sex

Drinking too much or being under the influence of drugs impairs all our ability to choose a suitable sexual partner. If you are going out for an evening and are likely to drink or take drugs, make up your mind beforehand (while sober) who you will sleep with (if you are going to - be honest with yourself). Tell your friends, put a note to yourself in your purse. Write an affirmation, I love myself too much to fall into bed with just any man. Whatever it takes to stick to your plan.

Be Prepared

Some women still feel embarrassed to admit that they carry condoms, even though the campaign 'smart women carry condoms' has been around for some time. They fear that the man will think they jump into bed with every random stranger if they come 'prepared'. Although it may not be logical, it is an emotional reaction and is understandable. If you like a guy, and are worried about what he thinks, then perhaps it is worth waiting a little longer and planning your first time together more appropriately. If nothing else, the buildup can add to the fun!

  Related Articles on STDs

For more health advice, see the following:

Recommended health screenings for women.

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
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