Protecting yourself from getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is not hard but it does require you to take responsibility and practice healthy sexual behaviors and protection methods. People can increase their chance of contracting an STI by having multiple sexual partners, not practicing safer sex (with a condom or dental dam), and by not getting regularly tested. If you are experiencing symptoms, call your health care provider for advice. For information on how to stay healthy, read the 8 simple guidelines that will allow you to be safe and protected:
This is the only form of prevention that is 100% effective against pregnancy and STIs; it means no sexual contact of any kind.
- Always using a latex or polyurethane condom or barrier (dental dam) when having anal, vaginal and/or oral sex.
- Condoms made from “natural” materials may protect against pregnancy but NOT STIs.
LIMIT YOUR SEXUAL PARTNERS:
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.
KNOW YOUR STATUS:
If you’re having sex, go to a clinic for an STI checkup at least once a year – and sooner if you change partners, have more than one partner, or if you think your partner may be having sex with anyone else.
GET TREATED (YOU AND YOUR PARTNER):
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 be treated for an STI called Chlamydia without needing to see a medical provider. This is called Expedited Partner Therapy or EPT. For information about EPT click here.
TALK TO YOUR PARTNER:
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 and tell your partner to get tested if they are unsure about their status. For more information about starting the conversation, click here.
TALK TO YOUR PROVIDER:
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.
DON’T HAVE SEX UNDER THE INFLUENCE:
Understand that having sex while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can increase the likelihood of unprotected sex and increase your chance of getting an STI.
PREGNANCY AND STIs:
Many STIs can cause health problems for a fetus. If you are pregnant, see a doctor for a complete check up. This usually includes testing for STIs but ask your doctor 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.
It is important to know that 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.
For more information about staying healthy and protecting yourself against STIs visit the link below: