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Quick GuideSexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, HIV
How Can I Protect Myself From STDs?
Here are some basic steps that you can take to protect yourself from contracting STDs:
- Consider that not having sex is the only sure way to prevent STDs.
- Use a latex condom every time you have sex, particularly if you have more than one sex partner. (If you use a lubricant, make sure it is water-based.)
- Limit your number of sexual partners. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to catch a STD.
- Practice monogamy. This means having sex with only one person. That person must also have sex with only you to reduce your risk.
- Choose your sex partners with care. Don't have sex with someone whom you suspect may have a STD or who has many sexual partners.
- Get checked for STDs. Don't risk giving the infection to someone else or your baby. Just because you've been screened for STDs early on in your pregnancy, does not mean that you can't contract one later during your pregnancy. If you engage in unprotected sex with more than one partner since your last STD screen, you need another set of screening tests. Also, you should be concerned if your partner may be having unprotected sex with other people.
- Don't use alcohol or drugs before you have sex. You may be less likely to practice safe sex if you are drunk or high. Plus, alcohol and drugs can harm your developing baby.
- Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. Look for them in yourself and your sex partners.
- Learn about STDs. The more you know about STDs, the better you can protect yourself.
How Can I Avoid Spreading a STD?
- Stop having sex until you see a health care provider and are treated.
- Follow your health care provider's instructions for treatment.
- Use condoms whenever you have sex, especially with new partners.
- Don't resume having sex unless your health care provider says it's OK.
- Return to your health care provider to get rechecked.
- Be sure your sex partner or partners are also treated.
WebMD Medical Reference
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The March of Dimes.
Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on December 20, 2009