Safe Sex Practices To Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that can spread with sexual contact. Many people don’t realize that they can get STDs through several different types of sexual acts, including skin-to-skin contact. So it is important to know safe sex practices that can protect you and your partners from STDs. 

The following are some tips for preventing STDs by practicing safe sex.

Practice Abstinence

The only 100 percent effective way to avoid STDs is not having sex, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. If you decide to have sex, use the tips listed below to prevent STDs.

Use Condoms

Condoms are a straightforward and common way used to practice safe sex. While not 100 percent effective at preventing STDs, using a condom during sexual acts can reduce your chances of becoming infected with STDs. 

Here are the steps for proper condom usage:

  • Only use a condom you store correctly – Do not store condoms in places with hot temperatures, in a wallet. Also, do not use condoms that you accidentally go into the washing machine or are expired.
  • Carefully open the condom wrapper without ripping the condom.
  • Put the condom on the right side out – it should easily roll outwards as you put it on. If the penis is uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back before moving the condom on.
  • Place the top half-inch of the condom between your fingers as you roll the condom on. This keeps out air bubbles that could cause the condom to break during sex. It also allows room for the semen (sperm) to pool.
  • Roll the condom to the base of the penis.
  • Use lubricant freely, but only after the condom is on (not before). Dry condoms are more likely to break, so you may need to add lubricant. If you use a lubricant during sex, choose a water-based one, as oil-based lubricants may cause the condom to break.
  • Take the condom off only after you are entirely out of your partner. It’s a good idea to hold the condom at the base of the penis while pulling out.
  • 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 are the most effective at preventing STDs, so choose latex over lambskin condoms.

Use Other Forms Of Protection

You can 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. In addition to condoms, there are also dental dams that can help protect you from STDs when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. You can use latex gloves for sexual activity involving your fingers or hands. 

Don’t Douche

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

Reduce Alcohol And Drug Use Before Sex

In some cases, alcohol or drug use could cause you to make risky choices about sex. It only takes one time to forget to use a condom or have sex with a new person to get an STD.

Limit Your Number Of Sexual Partners

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

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Practice Monogamy

Having a monogamous sex partner can help protect you from infection. This means you and your partner are in a long-term faithful sexual relationship, and both of you have no STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

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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. Treatments are available to help relieve your symptoms while reducing your chances of spreading the disease to others.

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Be Honest

Before having sex with any new partner, inform them 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.

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Medical content reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD

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