How to prevent STDs
The only way to completely avoid getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is to abstain from all intimate contact. However, that is not practical for most people.
Fortunately, STDs are largely preventable by practicing safe sex both correctly and consistently.
Make these strategies for lowering your risk of getting an STD part of your overall commitment to your health.
Make all sex safer sex
Practicing safe sex is only effective if you do it every time you have an encounter. Use a condom, gloves, and/or other appropriate barriers whenever you engage in intimate contact.
Barriers are not 100% protective against all STDs, but they will greatly reduce your risk.
Seek STD testing
Whether or not you are at high risk for an STD, you and your partner should strongly consider being tested before entering a new sexual relationship. If one or both of you are at high risk of disease, you should be tested even more frequently.
Have sex only within a mutually monogamous relationship
One benefit of long-term monogamy is a reduction in the likelihood of bringing a new STD into the relationship.
This, of course, hinges on starting the relationship having tested negative and, importantly, ongoing trust and commitment to this shared promise.
Have an open conversation with your partner about your and their definition of monogamy and whether they have been tested recently for STDs and what tests were done.
Know your limit
It can be hard to think clearly and critically “in the moment.” That’s why it’s wise to think it through and be prepared before things heat up. Be clear with your own intentions and know how far you are willing to take things before you meet up.
Talk to your partner
Clear communication is important for preventing STDs. Talk openly about practicing safe sex, and STD testing. Open and honest communication is important in all aspects of a relationship, including this one.
Don’t drink or use drugs before sex
It is difficult to make responsible choices about your sex life and practicing safe sex if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol. When under the influence, a person is more likely to have sex with someone they may not pick if they were sober.
Be comfortable saying ‘no’
If you don’t want to have sex, say so. Sex is not something you owe someone because they bought you dinner or because you’ve been on a certain number of dates, for example.