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Safe sex

Chlamydia - safe sex; STD - safe sex; STI - safe sex; Sexually transmitted - safe sex; GC - safe sex; Gonorrhea - safe sex; Herpes - safe sex; HIV - safe sex; Condoms - safe sex

Safe sex means taking steps before and during sex that can prevent you from getting an infection, or from giving an infection to your partner.

Myths and Facts of STIs

  • You can’t get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) the first time you have sex.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • You can’t get an STI from oral sex.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • A female condom isn’t as good as a male condom at protecting against HIV.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • Using a male condom and a female condom together gives you double protection.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • You can’t use condoms if you’re allergic to latex.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • The best place to carry condoms is in your wallet, so you’ll always have one.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • Using a lubricant with a condom makes it less likely to break.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • Which activity increases your risk for an STI?

     

    A. Anal sex

     

    B. Oral sex

     

    C. Having more than one sexual partner

     

    D. Using alcohol or drugs

     

    E. All of the above

    Correct Answer
  • The best condoms are those with nonoxynol-9.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer
  • Which is the surest way to avoid STIs:

     

    A. Abstinence

     

    B. Wearing a condom

     

    C. Delaying your first sexual experience

     

    D. Having a monogamous relationship

    Correct Answer
  • Douching can help protect you from HIV.

     

    A. Myth

     

    B. Fact

    Correct Answer

Information

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that can be spread to another person through sexual contact. STIs include:

STIs are also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

These infections are spread by direct contact with a sore on the genitals or mouth, body fluids, or sometimes the skin around the genital area.

Before having sex:

  • Get to know your partner and discuss your sexual histories.
  • Don't feel forced into having sex.
  • Don't have sexual contact with anyone but your partner.

Your sexual partner should be someone who you know does not have any STI. Before having sex with a new partner, each of you should get screened for STIs and share the test results with each other.

If you know you have an STI such as HIV or herpes, let any sexual partner know this before you have sex. Allow him or her to decide what to do. If you both agree to have sexual contact, use latex or polyurethane condoms.

Use condoms for all vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse.

  • The condom should be in place from the beginning to the end of the sexual activity. Use it every time you have sex.
  • Keep in mind that STIs can be spread by contact with skin areas around the genitals. A condom reduces but does not eliminate your risk of getting an STI.

Other tips include:

  • Use lubricants. They may help reduce the chance that a condom will break.
  • Use only water-based lubricants. Oil-based or petroleum-type lubricants can cause latex to weaken and tear.
  • Polyurethane condoms are less likely to break than latex condoms, but they cost more.
  • Using condoms with nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide) may increase the chance of HIV transmission.
  • Stay sober. Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment. When you are not sober, you might not choose your partner as carefully. You may also forget to use condoms, or use them incorrectly.

Get tested regularly for STIs if you have new sexual partners. Most STIs have no symptoms, so you need to be tested often if there is any chance you have been exposed. You will have the best outcome and will be less likely to spread the infection if you are diagnosed early.

Consider getting the HPV vaccine to keep from getting the human papillomavirus. This virus can put you at risk for genital warts and for cervical cancer in women.

References

Del Rio C, Cohen MS. Prevention of human immunodeficiency virus infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 387.

Gardella C, Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 23.

LeFevre ML; US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral counseling interventions to prevent sexually transmitted infections: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(12):894-901. PMID: 25244227 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25244227.

McKinzie J. Sexually transmitted diseases. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 88.

Workowski KA, Bolan GA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015;64(RR-03):1-137. PMID: 26042815. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26042815.

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    • The female condom

      The female condom

      illustration

    • The male condom

      The male condom

      illustration

    • STDs and ecological niches

      STDs and ecological niches

      illustration

    • Primary syphilis

      Primary syphilis

      illustration

      • The female condom

        The female condom

        illustration

      • The male condom

        The male condom

        illustration

      • STDs and ecological niches

        STDs and ecological niches

        illustration

      • Primary syphilis

        Primary syphilis

        illustration

       

      Review Date: 4/15/2018

      Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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