Sexual Health

STI 101

Sex is awesome. But there are things about sex that are less than awesome, things like sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some STIs can be cured; some cannot.

To keep sex awesome, it’s important to be aware of STIs. You are the boss of your body. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself and others from the spread of STIs. Find where you fit in the list below and get the information you need to stay healthy and fabulous.

You’re sexually active and want to prevent an STI

An STI is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. This includes passing infected fluids (blood, semen, pre-cum) or skin-to-skin contact. This means you can contract an STI without having necessarily having sex. Bummer.

Most of the time, STIs are spread by unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The best ways to prevent an STI, include:
  • Get vaccinated. There are vaccines to prevent HPV and hepatitis B.
  • Use condoms. Condoms are the best way to prevent STIs when you have sex. A condom acts as a barrier for skin-to-skin contact and prevents fluids from passing from one partner to another. Just be sure to put the condom on before the penis or toy (yes, toys can transfer fluids) touches the vagina, mouth, or anus. Note: other birth control methods prevent pregnancy but not STIs. Those dang condoms are just so effective. If you and your partner are not big fans of condoms, lube is a great option to add to condoms to stay safe and still have fun.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Maybe you’re exploring and having sex with multiple partners. Maybe you’re having sex with one partner. Maybe you’re not sexually active right now. Wherever you’re at in your sex life, you can still prevent an STI. There is a higher risk of getting an STI the more partners you have. If you choose to have multiple partners, just be sure to use protection and have open communication. Don’t be shy about asking sexual partners in they have STIs. Again, you are the boss of your body.

You think you might have an STI

You’re experiencing signs of an STI, like pain, itching, or sores during sex. It can be scary wondering if something’s going on. You might feel totally alone. You might scour the Internet and read horrible stories. These are all normal reactions. The best way to get answers is an STI screening, which is fast and effective.

Even if you feel totally healthy it’s still a good idea to get tested. Many STIs have only mild symptoms or no signs or symptoms at all. Some symptoms can be mistaken for something else that’s not an STI, like a urinary tract infection or yeast infection.

An STI screening tests for the most common STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, herpes, HPV, syphilis and trichomoniasis. Early detection is important. The faster an STI is treated, the better results.

You have been diagnosed with an STI

Getting an STI diagnosis can feel like a death sentence. The good news is that many STIs can be easily treated with medicine, and there are lots of treatments for the STIs that cannot be cured. Some treatment may involve taking medicine by mouth or getting a shot. No matter what your results, following your doctor’s instructions is important.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself tested!

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