Staying Healthy and STI Free

How to Protect Yourself From Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):

Don't have sex. The only sure way to prevent getting an STI is to not have sex (abstinence). For more information about abstinence, visit Planned Parenthood's website.

Practice safer sex, use a condom. If you have sex, use a condom each time. It’s important to use condoms correctly and understand the different types of condoms available to you. Latex and non-latex condoms (like condoms made from polyurethane) protect against STIs, but lambskin condoms do not protect against STIs. Internal and external condoms are both effective in preventing STIs and if you’re having oral sex, dental dams are another effective barrier against STIs.

Birth control methods like an IUD, the pill, depo-provera, or diaphragms DO NOT protect against STIs. 

Communicate. Talk to your partner(s) about safer sex and protecting against STIs and HIV BEFORE you have sex. Click here for tips on having that conversation.

Limit your number of sex partners. The more people you have sex with, the greater your chance of getting an STI. A monogamous relationship — where you and your partner only have sex with each other AND you both have been tested— is safest.

Get tested. If you’re having sex, go to a clinic for an STI checkup at least once a year – and sooner if you change partners, have more than one partner, or if you think your partner may be having sex with anyone else.

Get treated. If you have an STI, make sure both you and your partner(s) get treated. Do not have sex again until both you and your partner(s) complete treatment (for chlamydia and gonorrhea, that is 7 days after you took the medicine).

Do not share needles. Make sure you use a clean, new needle for tattooing, body piercing, and injecting drugs/hormones.

Seek care. If you are pregnant, get prenatal care early. It is important to find and treat any STIs as soon as possible so that you don’t pass the infection on to your baby.

For more information on STIs, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.