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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. If you don’t get the right treatment then an STI could even lead to serious complications such as fertility problems. Although most STIs can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics, it is always better to avoid falling ill in the first place. What can you do to protect yourself and your partner against STIs?
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of STIs is to use condoms. Both male and female condoms can prevent the spread of many STIs including:
However, it is important to be aware of the limitations of condoms. Male condoms are 98% effective when used correctly while female condoms are 95% effective. However, if you use them incorrectly or there is a problem such as a tear they won’t be as effective.
It is also impossible for condoms to provide complete protection against STIs. Many sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes and syphilis can affect areas of skin that aren’t covered by the condoms. The infection can then be transferred between partners despite the condom.
Condoms can provide effective protection against many STIs but they don’t work perfectly. If you or your partner have symptoms that you suspect could be caused by an STI then it is best to avoid sex until you get treated. Even with a condom, there is still a risk that the infection could be passed on. It is especially important to be aware of sores or growths that won’t be covered by the condom as you won’t have any protection against these.
If you are diagnosed with an STI then you should wait until the treatment is complete before having sex again. It is vital to take all of the medication that your doctor has prescribed and to avoid sex until you are no longer contagious. Even if you start to feel better, you could still pass on the infection or fail to eliminate it completely if you don’t complete the whole treatment.
We usually focus on vaginal intercourse when we think about protecting ourselves against STIs. However, it is possible for the viruses and bacteria that cause these infections to be transmitted along other routes. STIs can be passed on during oral and anal sex. It is also possible for STIs to be transmitted on hands, sex toys or anything else that has been in recent contact with another person’s bodily fluids. Usually this will only happen during sexual activity as the germs won’t live long outside the body.
Using condoms and dental dams can help to prevent STIs from spreading during these kinds of sexual activities. It is also important to wash hands and sex toys carefully to avoid spreading STIs and other kinds of infections that could cause problems.
Taking the right precautions can reduce the risks of catching an STI but it isn’t always possible to prevent them completely. Condoms aren’t 100% effective and many STIs can be transmitted even when they aren’t causing any noticeable symptoms.
If you have been sexually active then it is a good idea to get tested for STIs. STI testing is a simple process that usually only requires a urine sample. Swabs may also need to be taken if you have any sores or discharge. A cheek swab or a small blood sample may be used to check for HIV.
In order to ensure that you and your partner are protected as much as possible, it is best for you both to get tested. As a general rule, anyone who is sexually active should be checked about as often as they switch partners. This can prevent STIs from spreading any further before they are detected.
The results of the test can tell you whether you’re carrying any infections that could be transmitted to your partner. If you do have an STI then it will usually be possible to eliminate it with a course of antibiotics. You will then be able to enjoy time with your partner safe in the knowledge that you are not putting them at risk.