Here’s How To Prevent STIs: Practices For Safer Sex
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection, which is an infection that is spread through sexual contact. STIs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, and they can affect both men and women.
Some common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS.
STIs are usually spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but they can also be spread through other forms of intimate contact, such as sharing needles or coming into contact with infected blood or bodily fluids.
Many STIs do not show any symptoms, which means that a person may have an infection without even realizing it.
However, even if there are no visible symptoms, an infected person can still spread the infection to others.
STIs are generally preventable, but around 20 million new cases are diagnosed in the US annually, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A study reported 3.4% of males and 5.2% of females adolescents experienced STI in Ghana.
Taking care of one’s sexual health and practicing safe sex can reduce the chances of contracting an infection.
Abstaining from all sexual contact is the only certain way to prevent STIs. However, when engaging in sexual activity, there are steps one can take to minimize the risk of STIs.
Protection before sex
Maintaining your sexual health is a top priority, and it starts well before any sexual activity. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of STIs:
- Have an honest conversation with your partner about your sexual history and ask about theirs.
- Prioritize getting tested, along with your partner, before engaging in sexual activity.
- Refrain from sexual contact when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Consider getting vaccinated for HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B to protect against common STIs.
- If you are HIV negative, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can reduce your risk of contracting HIV.
- Always use barrier methods when engaging in sexual activity.
Keep in mind that not everyone with an STI knows they have one, which is why getting tested is so crucial.
If you or your partner receives an STI diagnosis, it’s important to have an open conversation about it to make informed decisions together.
Sexual health practices
Reducing the risk of STI transmission is crucial for maintaining good sexual health. Here are some ways to protect yourself and your partner:
- Use external or internal condoms for penetrative intercourse, including when using sex toys.
- Consider using condoms or dental dams for oral sex to help prevent the spread of STIs.
- For manual stimulation or penetration, gloves can provide a protective barrier.
Practicing good hygiene before and after sexual contact can also help prevent STI transmission.
- Be sure to wash your hands before any sexual contact, and rinse off afterwards.
- Urinating after sex can help prevent UTIs.
Avoid sharing sex toys
Sharing sex toys can increase the risk of transmitting STIs, such as herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Even if you and your partner do not have any visible symptoms of an STI, you may still be infected and capable of passing it on to others.
Additionally, some STIs, such as HIV, can survive on surfaces outside the body for a short time and be transmitted via sex toys.
If you do choose to share sex toys, it is crucial to clean them thoroughly before and after each use.
Use warm water and soap to clean the toy, and consider using a toy cleaner or disinfectant. If the toy is made of a porous material, such as jelly or rubber, it may be more difficult to clean and sterilize, and therefore pose a higher risk for STI transmission.
In this case, it may be best to avoid sharing the toy altogether. Alternatively, you and your partner can use separate sex toys to reduce the risk of STI transmission.
It’s important to communicate with your partner about your preferences and boundaries when it comes to sharing sex toys.
Limit your number of sexual partners
Limiting your number of sexual partners is important to reduce the risk of contracting an STI, as each person you have sex with brings a unique set of risks and exposures.
Having fewer partners means you can have more control over your sexual health, as you can get to know your partner’s sexual history and monitor your own health more closely.
If you choose to have multiple partners, practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly are essential to prevent STI transmission and detect any infections early.
Using condoms correctly
Proper usage of barrier methods such as condoms is crucial for their effectiveness in preventing STIs and unintended pregnancy.
Following the instructions on the package and taking some precautions can ensure maximum protection. Here are some tips to follow when using internal and external condoms:
- Always check the expiration date and ensure the package has an air bubble, indicating it has not been punctured.
- Put on the condom correctly. For external condoms, ensure you leave enough room at the tip and unroll the condom onto the penis or sex toy during use, not before.
- Using lubricant is important, but be sure to choose condom-safe options and avoid oil-based lubricants with latex condoms.
- Hold onto the condom after sex, so it doesn’t slip off, and dispose of it properly.
- Never remove a condom and try to put it on again, and avoid reusing a condom.
By following these guidelines and using condoms correctly, you can significantly reduce your risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy
Potential risks of these preventive measures
Using protective barriers such as condoms is an effective method of preventing the exchange of bodily fluids containing STI-causing viruses or bacteria.
While they reduce the risk of skin-to-skin contact, they may not eliminate it entirely.
STIs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as syphilis, herpes, and HPV, can still be contracted even with the use of protective barriers.
For individuals with herpes, suppressive therapy can be helpful in preventing outbreaks and transmission, although it does not cure the infection.
It’s crucial to note that herpes can be transmitted even in the absence of an active outbreak, emphasizing the importance of ongoing prevention methods to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting STIs.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are widespread and can have serious health consequences.
However, the good news is that there are various ways to prevent them and reduce your risk of contracting them.
If you’re unsure which preventative measures are right for you, it’s essential to have open and honest communication with your partner or healthcare provider.
Talking about STIs and safe sex can help ensure that both you and your partner are on the same page and taking the necessary precautions to protect your sexual health.
Don’t be afraid to seek advice and guidance from a medical professional who can provide you with the information and support you need.
Name: Clement Akornor, BSc.
Website name: Health Tips Inc.
Website Url: ck-healthtips.com