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Sexual Conditions Health Center

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Your Guide to Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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How Can I Protect Myself From STDs?

Here are some basic steps that you can take to protect yourself from STDs:

  • Consider that not having sex or sexual relations (abstinence) is the only sure way to prevent STDs.
  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex. (If you use a lubricant, make sure it is water-based.)
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to catch an STD.
  • Practice monogamy. This means having sex with only one person. That person must also have sex with only you to reduce your risk.
  • Choose your sex partners with care. Don't have sex with someone whom you suspect may have an STD. And keep in mind that you can't always tell by looking if your partner has an STD.
  • Get checked for STDs. Don't risk giving the infection to someone else.
  • Don't use alcohol or drugs before you have sex. You may be less likely to use a condom if you are drunk or high.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. Look for them in yourself and your sex partners.
  • Learn about STDs. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself.

How Can I Avoid Spreading an STD?

  • If you have an STD, stop having sex until you see a doctor and are treated.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for treatment.
  • Use condoms whenever you have sex, especially with new partners.
  • Don't resume having sex unless your doctor says it's okay.
  • Return to your doctor to get rechecked.
  • Be sure your sex partner or partners also are treated.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on September 08, 2014
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