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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Safer sex is a way to reduce your risk of getting an infection spread through sex. It can also help prevent pregnancy. Most infections that are spread through sex, also called sexually transmitted infections or STDs, can be cured. But some can decrease your chances of getting pregnant if they are not treated early. Others, such as herpes, have no cure. And some, such as HIV, can be deadly.

Several products can help you practice safer sex and reduce your chance of STDs. One of the best is a condom. There are condoms for men and for women. The female condom is a tube of soft plastic with a closed end that is placed deep into the vagina. You can use a special rubber sheet (dental dam) for protection during oral sex. Latex gloves can keep your hands from touching blood, semen, or other body fluids that can carry infections.

Remember that birth control methods such as diaphragms, IUDs, foams, and birth control pills do not stop you from getting STDs.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Think about getting shots to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These two diseases can be spread through sex. You also can get hepatitis A if you eat infected food. Use condoms or female condoms each time and every time you have sex.
  • Learn the right way to use a male condom: Condoms come in several sizes. Make sure you use the right size. A condom that is too small can break easily. A condom that is too big can slip off during sex. Use a new condom each time you have sex. Be careful not to poke a hole in the condom when you open the wrapper. Squeeze the tip of the condom to keep out air. Pull down the loose skin (foreskin) from the head of an uncircumcised penis. While squeezing the tip of the condom, unroll it all the way down to the base of the firm penis. Never use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), grease, hand lotion, baby oil, or anything with oil in it. These products can make holes in the condom. After sex, hold the condom on your penis as you remove your penis from your partner. This will keep semen from spilling out of the condom.
  • Learn to use a female condom:You can put in a female condom up to 8 hours before sex. Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end and insert it deep into the vagina. The larger ring at the open end should stay outside the vagina.
  • During sex, make sure the penis goes into the condom. After the penis is removed, close the open end of the condom by twisting it. Remove the condom.
  • Do not use a female condom and male condom at the same time.
  • Do not have sex with anyone who has symptoms of an STI (sexually transmitted infection), such as sores on the genitals or mouth. The herpes virus that causes cold sores can spread to and from the penis and vagina.
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol or use drugs before sex. This can cause you to let down your guard and not practice safer sex.
  • Having one sex partner (who does not have STDs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a sure way to avoid STDs.


Talk to your partner before you have sex. Find out if he or she has or is at risk for any STD. Keep in mind that a person may be able to spread an STD even if he or she does not have symptoms. You and your partner may want to get an HIV test. You should get tested again 6 months later.

If you are having symptoms of painful urination, burning, itching, abnormal discharge, lesions, a rash, odor, sores, spotting, etc you may need to see a healthcare provider to be properly diagnosed and treated. Our office is able to help with any of these issues in a discreet manner.


Care instructions adapted under license by Benchmark Urgent and Family Care. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information