10 Safe Sex Practices To Avoid STDs

By:    Published: April 1, 2013

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a potential threat to anyone engaging in sexual activity. Many people don’t realize how ubiquitous STDs are and how they can be transmitted through several different types of sexual acts. The following are some tips for avoiding STDs by practicing safe sex.

Use Condoms

This is a very simple and basic tool for practicing safe sex. While not 100% effective at preventing STDs, simply using a condom during sexual acts can greatly reduce your chances of becoming infected. Here are the steps for proper condom usage:

  1. Use a condom that has been stored properly – it shouldn’t have been exposed to hot temperatures, carried around in a wallet, washed in the washing machine or expired.
  2. Carefully tear the condom wrapper without ripping the condom.
  3. Put the condom on right side out – it should easily roll outwards as you put it on. If the penis is uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back before rolling the condom on.
  4. Place the top half-inch of the condom between your fingers as you roll the condom on. This keeps out air bubbles which could cause the condom to break during sex. It also allows room for the semen to pool.
  5. Make sure the condom is rolled down all the way to the base of the penis.
  6. Use lubricant freely, but only after the condom is on (not before). Dry condoms are more likely to break, so you may need to periodically add lube.
  7. Take the condom off only after you are completely out of your partner. It’s a good idea to hold the condom at the base of the penis while pulling out.
  8. Throw away a used condom immediately. Do not reuse a condom or use the same condom for both vaginal and anal sex.

It’s important to note that latex condoms have been found to be the most effective at blocking HIV and STDs, so choose this type of condom over lambskin condoms. If you use a lubricant during sex, choose a water-based one as oil-based lubricants may cause the condom to break.

Utilize Other Forms Of Protection

In addition to condoms, there are also dental dams which can help protect you from STDs when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. Latex gloves can be use for sexual activity involving your fingers or hands. Plastic wrap can even be placed over a woman’s genitals during oral sex.

Use Protection For All Kinds of Sexual Contact

Condoms aren’t just for vaginal and anal sex – you should also use one when performing oral sex on a man or when using a sex toy.

Don’t Douche

Women shouldn’t practice douching since it actually removes some of the natural bacteria in the vagina that helps to fight off infection. Getting rid of this bacteria could increase your risk of getting an STD.

Be Cautious About Alcohol And Drug Use

In some cases, the use of alcohol or drugs could cause you to make risky choices about sex. It only takes one time of forgetting to use a condom or having sex with a new person in order to get an STD. In addition, you may be more susceptible to sexual assault since your communication abilities may be compromised. When drinking or using drugs, stay with friends whom you trust and don’t overindulge.

Limit Your Number Of Sexual Partners

The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk of getting an STD. If you do have multiple sexual partners, always practice safe sex with them to reduce that risk.

Practice Monogamy

By having a monogamous sex partner, you can help protect yourself from infection. If you and your partner are in a long-term, faithful sexual relationship and both of you are free of STDs, you may not need a condom during sex (but you should use another form of birth control if you don’t wish to get pregnant).

Get Tested

Get tested for STDs regularly, and encourage your partner(s) to do the same. The symptoms of an STD may not show up for weeks or months after you are infected, so you may have an STD without even knowing it. There are treatments available to help relieve your symptoms while also reduce your chances of spreading the disease to others.

Be Honest

Before having sex with any new partner, inform him or her of your STD status and ask that they be honest with you in the same way. You should both be aware of the risks first, and if you mutually decide to engage in sexual contact be sure to use the proper protection.

Practice Abstinence

The only 100 percent effective way to avoid STDs is to abstain from vaginal, oral and anal sex. If you do decide to have sex, make sure to use the tips listed above.

Bottom Line

When you are diligent about practicing safe sex, your chances of getting an STD will be greatly reduced. In addition, you may even find that you enjoy sex more when you and your partner are both open and honest about your STD status and have a mutual agreement about being safe every time. If you have any concerns about STDs or how to prevent them, talk to your doctor or visit a local clinic for more information.

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