If you’re a sexually active adult, you might consider yourself pretty familiar with the ins and outs of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); whether that be from your high school sex-ed teacher or an article from your favorite site. However, knowing what there is to know about STDs really is just the first box to tick when it comes to taking good care of your sexual health, next is taking the steps to prevent them.
Statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around one in every five people in the United States has an STD. What’s more, there were 26 million newly acquired STIs in 2018 alone . This, coupled with the fact that only around 8% of American adults are concerned about contracting an STD, indicates that while many adults might know a thing or two about sexually transmitted infections, the right precautions to prevent getting or spreading STDs aren’t always being taken .
The four ways to prevent contracting or spreading STDs include:
- Use condoms every time you have sex
- Get vaccinated for certain infections
- Have open conversations with your partner(s)
- Regularly get tested
What are the four ways to prevent the risk of contracting STDs?
It’s important to know that contracting an STD isn’t the end of the world! Treatment is available for every infection, and even if a cure isn’t available, treatment can help relieve any unfavorable symptoms you might experience. Still, as the old-age saying goes, prevention is better than cure, which is why it’s so important to take the right steps to ensure you’re practicing safe sex and your sexual health and wellbeing are a priority.
Use condoms every time you have sex
Using condoms every time you have sex is probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think of practicing safe sex. And while it might seem obvious, CDC notes that less than 25% of women and 34% of men report using a condom the last time they had sex .
Remember, when used correctly, condoms are one of the most reliable ways to protect yourself and your partner from STDs. As STDs can be transmitted through oral sex too, dental dams are available which work as a barrier between the mouth and the genitals to help prevent infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.
Get vaccinated for certain STDs
Another important step that can be taken to further protect yourself from STDs is getting vaccinated. Although there isn’t a vaccination available for every infection, there are vaccines that protect against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis A and B.
These vaccinations are usually given to you at a younger age however if you have not received one, make sure to check in with your doctor and see what the best options are for your circumstances.
Have open conversations with your partner(s)
Before you start a new sexual relationship with someone, put some time aside to have an open conversation about sexual health. Discussing your status and getting tested before you start something new is a good way to reduce both you and your partner’s risk of contracting an STD. If you have multiple partners, this step is particularly important.
Know that this conversation doesn’t have to be awkward, it’s just another step you can take to ensure you both remain happy and healthy.
Regularly get tested
Getting tested for STDs is one of the most crucial things you can do to protect and prevent STDs. It’s recommended to test at least once a year or to check in more frequently if you have multiple partners.
There are a number of common infections that are known to show little to no signs - most people who have chlamydia experience no symptoms . Regular testing gives you the chance to reduce your risk of STDs as well as detecting and treating any infections that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
If you would prefer to test from home, you can do so with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home sexual health tests.
One of the most reliable steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting or spreading STDs is through regular testing. This can be done with your doctor or from the comfort of your own home with LetsGetChecked’s at-home sexual health tests.
You should consider getting tested if:
- You’ve become sexually active
- You’ve had unprotected sex
- You’re experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
- You’re entering into a new sexual relationship
- You’ve received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 STD Surveillance Report. Online: Cdc.gov
- Kaiser Family Foundation. How Common STIs Are Among Adults and That Rates Are Rising. Online: KFF.org
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Condom Use During Sexual Intercourse Among Women and Men Aged 15–44 in the United States: 2011–2015 National Survey of Family Growth. Online: Cdc.gov
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia. Online: Cdc.gov