The best way to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease is not to have sex. However, that isn't a choice that most people are always willing to make. Once you have chosen to have sex
, there are ways to reduce the risk of contracting an STD. How? Well first, you need to know yourself. Second, you need to know your partner. And third? You need to know about condoms and safer sex.
Safer sex, with a condom, female condom, gloves, and/or other appropriate barriers
, only works if you are consistent about it. Make up your mind to have safer sex every time you have sex. If your sex life involves intercourse, anal or vaginal, determine that you'll never have sex without a condom. If you or your partner is at high risk of STDs, be consistent about barrier use (dental dam
) during oral sex as well. Barriers are not 100% protective against all STDs, but they will greatly reduce your risk.
Want to avoid getting an STD, and spreading STDs to your partner? Be consistent about getting tested and treated. Whether or not you are at high risk for an STD, you and your partner should strongly consider being tested before entering a new sexual relationship. If one or both of you is at high risk of disease
, you should be tested even more frequently. And, if you're being treated for an STD, wait until you're done with treatment before resuming sexual activity. Otherwise you and your partner could end up just passing it back and forth.
3. Have Sex Only Within A Mutually Monogamous RelationshipTwo people who have sex only with one another don’t have any opportunity to bring a new STD into the relationship. If you and your partner have been tested and are healthy, remaining faithful to each other is a very good way to reduce your chances of contracting an STD. However, it is important to be honest with yourself about whether you and your partner are both truly faithful. If you are always consistent about practicing safer sex, even with a long-term partner, you will feel more secure, and it can also take the “trust” issue out of the equation.
4. Know Your LimitsWhen in the throes of passion it can be very difficult to use your brain. Once your clothes have started to come off is, therefore, not the time to start thinking about how far you want to go with your partner that evening. Before you head out on a date, think about your plans for the night. If the opportunity arises, do you want to have sex? Are you comfortable with fooling around a little, but not with oral sex or intercourse? If you make a rational decision before you leave your apartment, you’ll not only be prepared to safely act on it, but you’re far less likely to end the evening doing something you’ll regret.
If you can't talk to your partner about sex, you can't talk to them about safer sex. Clear, open, and honest communication is important in all aspects of a relationship, including the sexual. It is important to be able to talk comfortably with your partner not only about safer sex and STD testing
, but about monogamy
and whether your relationship is or isn't exclusive. In all cases, try your best to focus on the truth as opposed to what you think your partner wants to hear. Improving your communication skills will not only make your sex life safer, it will make it more fulfilling.
6. Don't Drink Or Use Drugs Before Having SexIt's difficult to make responsible choices about your sex life if you're starting out impaired by drugs or alcohol. When you are under the influence, you are more likely to choose to have sex with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have picked as a partner, and less likely to be able to successfully negotiate safer sex. If you do plan to go out drinking, or use other substances, make up your mind beforehand what, and who, you really want to do. Then tell your friends, or write it on your hand, so that you stick with your plan. Also, if you’re on birth control and you vomit, your pills could lose some effectiveness.
7. Be Comfortable Saying NoYou never have to have sex. If you don’t want to have sex at all, or just not right then, that’s ok. Sex is not something you owe someone because they bought you dinner, and anyone who is going to break up with you because you won’t sleep with them isn’t someone you should be dating in the first place. It's your choice to say yes to sex, and it's also your choice to say no. But, when you do say no, mean it. Don't feign no and hope your partner will try to change your mind. Similarly, if your partner tells you no, listen. They'll know you respect their decisions, and, when they say yes, you can believe that too.
Part of making responsible sexual choices is being prepared to enact them. It doesn’t matter if you're male or female. If you’re going to have sex with someone you should be prepared. This is not only a matter of emotional preparation, but practicality. Bring your own safer sex supplies. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have extras. That’s much better than the alternatives. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as being ready to go and having to drop everything to find a store that’s still open and selling condoms. The other alternative, going ahead without them, shouldn't even be an option.
9. Know How To Please Yourself
Sometimes it’s impossible to get sex off your mind. You think about it constantly; you fantasize about it; you simply want it. This can make it tempting to jump into bed with someone just to have sex, not because you like them, or even because you particularly want to have sex with them. Unfortunately, this is a good way to end up with regrets. One way to avoid this, or to avoid making a bad decision if you end up in a situation where you want to have safer sex, but there are no supplies around, is to know how to please yourself. There’s nothing wrong with masturbation
, and no sexual partner is safer than yourself
10. Remember That Your Brain Is Your Most Important Sex OrganLots of people talk about the brain as the most important sex organ, because it is where the vast majority of arousal happens. The brain, however, is also your most important safer sex organ. You can use it to inform yourself, and to be aware of risk factors, transmission methods, symptoms, and methods of prevention. You can use it to help you pick your partners sensibly, and decide what you do and don’t feel comfortable doing with them. The decision to make your sex life safer is the first and most important step in reducing your risk of STDs.