You can reduce your risk of becoming infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) or another sexually transmitted infection (STI). You also can reduce the risk of spreading HPV to your sex partner(s).
Practice safer sex
Preventing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is easier than treating an infection after it occurs.
- Talk with your partner about STIs before beginning a sexual relationship. Find out whether he or she is at risk for an STI. Remember that it is possible to be infected with an STI without knowing it. Some STIs, such as HIV infection, may be in your blood for 3 to 6 months before they can be detected.
- Be responsible.
- Avoid sexual contact if you have symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an STI.
- Avoid sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of an STI or who may have been exposed to an STI.
- Having several sex partners increases your risk of getting an STI.
Male condom use
Condom use can reduce the risk of becoming infected with HPV. You can reduce the risk of infection if you use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms must be put on before beginning any sexual contact.
Female condom use
Even if you are using another birth control method, you may wish to use condoms to reduce your risk of getting an STI. Female condoms may lower the risk of HPV infection of the cervix, but they do not cover all of the vulva. These condoms are more effective at lowering the risk for other STIs.
If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot. HPV vaccines can protect against genital warts. Cervarix(What is a PDF document?), Gardasil(What is a PDF document?), and Gardasil 9(What is a PDF document?) are the three types of HPV vaccines. Three shots are given over 6 months. It is recommended for children age 11 or 12, but can be given as early as age 9. For girls who have not already gotten the vaccine, it is recommended up to age 26. For boys who have not already gotten the shot, the vaccine is recommended up to age 21.