Protecting yourself from getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is easy. However, it requires responsibly practicing healthy sexual behaviors and protection methods. People increase their chance of contracting an STI by having multiple sexual partners, not practicing safer sex, and not getting tested regularly. If you are experiencing symptoms, call your health care provider for advice.
This is the only form of prevention that is 100% effective against pregnancy and STIs. Abstinence means no sexual contact of any kind.
Always using a latex or polyurethane condom, or barrier (dental dam), when having anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Condoms made from “natural” materials may protect against pregnancy but not STIs.
The more sexual partners you have, the greater risk you have of getting an STI. Monogamous relationships – only you and one other individual – are the safest.
If you’re having sex, go to a clinic for an STI checkup at least once a year. Go sooner if you change partners, have more than one partner, or if you think your partner may be having sex with anyone else.
If you have an STI, make sure both you and your partner(s) get treated. Do not have sex again until both you and your partner(s) complete treatment. In Massachusetts, your partner can get treatment for the STI Chlamydia without seeing a medical provider. This practice is called Expedited Partner Therapy or EPT.
Talk to your partner(s) about safer sex and staying protected from STIs, including HIV, before you have sex. Talk about any STIs you or your partner might have. Tell your partner to get tested if they are unsure about their status. For more information about starting the conversation, click here.
Healthcare providers are there to answer your sexual health questions. Next time you talk to your healthcare provider, ask him or her about STIs and getting tested.
Having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can increase the likelihood of unprotected sex which increases your chance of getting an STI.
Many STIs can cause health problems for a fetus. If you are pregnant, see a health care provider for a complete check up. This usually includes testing for STIs but ask your health care provider to make sure. It is important to find and treat an STI as soon as possible so that you don’t pass the infection on to your baby.
Birth control methods such as birth control pills, rings and patches, cervical caps, diaphragms, and IUDs DO NOT protect you from getting an STI. These methods are only used to prevent pregnancy.