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There are many different sexually transmitted infections that can cause myriad health-related consequences. Whether you are single, in a dating relationship, or married, it’s crucial to keep yourself and your partner or partners safe. These are some of the best ways to protect yourself.
What Are Sexually Transmitted Infections?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases that are spread through different types of sexual contact; many can be passed from one person to their partner through bodily fluids via vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Certain STIs can even be spread through kissing or skin-to-skin contact. Many of these diseases can be treated and cured with antibiotics, but others have no cure. When you understand the risks of contracting STIs and how to prevent them, you can take measures to protect yourself and your sexual partners.
Although many STIs cause symptoms, others might not cause any at all. Symptoms sometimes also vary between males and females and can range from mild to severe. Regardless of whether the specific disease can be cured, seeking treatment as early as possible is the best course of action for avoiding long-term health issues.
How to Protect Yourself from STIs
Latex condoms are among the best options for keeping yourself safe from STIs. However, although it was once advised to use those that include nonoxynol-9, more recent research has determined that nonoxynol-9 can irritate the vagina and cervix and actually increase the risk of infection. When using condoms, it’s best to combine them with a water-based lubricant. When used correctly, condoms are effective at preventing both STIs and pregnancy.
Getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV) can prevent the spread of this particular STI. Although HPV can remain dormant and clear up on its own for many people, others may end up experiencing the effects, which include certain types of cancers. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B, which requires three shots in a single dose.
Limiting your number of sex partners might help reduce your risk of STIs. However, the more partners you have, the greater your risk. Knowing one another’s full sexual history can help.
Practice long-term monogamy with one partner. If you both remain faithful and only have sex with one another, it’s safer and there’s less likelihood of being infected with an STI. After you have both agreed to be monogamous, you can both get tested to ensure that you’re healthy and don’t have to worry about potential infection. However, keep in mind that if you don’t use any birth control or contraception, it opens the door to a potential pregnancy.
Be aware that certain sexual acts can increase your risk of contracting STIs. For example, anal sex is riskier because it can lead to the tearing of the skin. Contact with bodily fluids is also a riskier behavior.
What Else Can You Do?
Getting tested for STIs regularly can show your status and ensure that you stay healthy and safe. You can even get a same-day STI test in London or a clinic near you. If you do learn that you’ve tested positive for any STI, you should take immediate proactive measures. See your doctor for medical treatment, inform your partner or partners of your status and avoid spreading the infection to others. They can get tested and seek treatment if they test positive.
Follow your doctor’s orders and abstain from sexual activity until they tell you it’s safe. After you have been treated, see your doctor again for a follow-up.
You can also protect yourself by cleaning your genitals before and after intercourse. Women can also reduce their risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) by urinating before and after sex. They can also use probiotics for BV to save themselves from vaginal infections.
Individuals who struggle with substance use disorder are more likely to engage in riskier sexual practices such as unprotected sex. If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, getting help for your addiction is one of the best ways to protect your overall health.
Of course, abstinence is the most foolproof way to prevent getting an STI, but if you are sexually active, following these safety practices is best. Protecting yourself and others from getting infected is responsible and shows that you care.