When it comes to having sex, there is always the risk of getting an STD. However, it's hard to protect yourself or make the right decisions if you don't know what that is.
This blog breaks down everything you need to know about what an STD is, how you can get one, and how to protect yourself against them.
What's an STD?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are commonly referred to as STDs. They are infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual activity. Safe sex helps protect you and your partner(s) from getting an STI.
How can you get an STD?
There are different kinds of STDs, and how they can spread isn't all the same. Usually, an STD can be passed through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Some STDs are carried through semen (cum), vaginal fluid, and blood. Using protection during sex will keep you out of contact with these fluids and some types of skin-to-skin contact.
All STDs can infect your genitals. Vaginal or anal sex without a condom has a high risk for passing the following STDs below. You can learn more about each STD by clicking on them below:
- HPV and genital warts
- hepatitis B
- pubic lice
Some STDs can also infect your lips, mouth, and throat. Oral sex without a condom or dam has a high risk for passing: herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, hepatitis B.
Some STDs can be passed even if there’s only some skin on skin action with no fluids passed. Genital skin-to-skin contact can spread: herpes, HPV, pubic lice, and scabies.
How do I know if I have an STD?
You should know that not all STDs will give you symptoms. This means, you could have an STD and not know. This is why it is incredibly important to get tested if you are sexually active. Different STDs have different symptoms, and if you think you have an STD, reach out to your medical provider as soon as possible.
Are STDs treatable?
Most STDs can be treated with medicine, and some can be cured entirely. But not all of them are curable.
How can I protect myself from STDs?
1. Use protection.
Having a barrier between you and another person will protect both of you from STDs. This means condoms and dental dams during oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
2. Ask about STDs. Before you start having sex with someone, you both should discuss whether or not either of you have (or have had) any STDs. You should always use protection, but knowing your partner’s history is a component of practicing safe sex and being aware. You can learn about how to tell your partner you have an STD here.
3. Get tested. If you had unprotected sex, you should get tested immediately. Even if your partner said they do not have any STDs, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A lot of the time, people who have an STD don't have symptoms or know they're infected. If you are a male who has sex with other males, you should also get tested for HIV, and consider getting on PrEP/PEP.
Information for this blog was derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.