Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections/diseases that are spread through sexual intercourse, including skin-to-skin contact. According to the center for disease control and prevention, CDC, nearly 20 million new cases of STD/Is are diagnosed in the US alone every year.
Generally, these infections are preventable by being mindful of your sexual health and protection. While the most guaranteed way of preventing them is through abstinence from all types of sexual contact, it is not practical for most people.
Read through this article to find out other common sexual health practices you adopt to keep you safe from contracting STDs.
1. Ensure every sexual encounter is safe.
Applying safe sex is generally effective if you practice it every time you have a sexual encounter. Use condoms, both female and male, dental dams, or any other appropriate methods whenever you are getting intimate with your partner.
Take care of your personal sexual health and use every safe sex methods you feel comfortable with based on the type of sexual engagement you plan to have. For instance, if you plan to have intercourse, always remember to use a condom.
However, if you have a high risk of contracting STDs, use barriers such as condoms and dental dams consistently during oral sex too. Though barriers do not provide 100% protection against some sexually transmitted infections, they will significantly reduce your risks.
2. Practice intercourse within a mutually monogamous arrangement.
One significant advantage of staying in a long-term monogamous relationship is that there is a reduced risk of bringing a strain of STI into the relationship. To achieve this, you and your partner need to start the relationship with negative STD test results, and of course, consistent trust and commitment to your plans.
Engage in an open discussion with your partner about what they understand by being in a mutually monogamous relationship, if they have been tested before, and the types of tests performed.
Remember that not all STD testing is completely accurate; there will always be false negatives and false positives. For instance, herpes and chlamydia can stay dormant for years without detection before showing any symptoms.
And suppose you are tested positive for either of these despite committing to a long-term mutually monogamous relationship. In that case, this dormancy could be the reason.
3. Encourage and seek STD testing.
Regardless of whether you are at high risk or not, you should always strongly consider getting tested together with your partner before starting a new relationship. And if both or one of you are at high risk, then you need to consider testing more frequently.
You’ll have to go through professional counseling to prepare you and telling you important information before getting tested and how to handle the results in case it comes out positive.
Also, if you are undergoing STD treatments, take a break from any form of sexual activity until you complete the treatment plan. But if you don’t, you may end up getting back and forth infections.
4. Know and manage your limits.
Yes, it can be difficult to think critically or clearly when you are in the mood to engage in sex. This is why it is advisable to think first and prepare before your reach the moment. Have clear intentions and know your limits before you meet for the occasion.
While prior preparation can give good reasons to avoid the situation, it is important to be armed with any form of protection should things get out of hand or you change your mind to rise to the occasion.
5. Avoid taking alcohol or any drugs before sex.
Basically, it is impossible to make responsible and safe choices about your sex life if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, you are more likely to choose a person for sex whom you would not have picked when sober.
Additionally, when intoxicated, it is not easy to remember to practice safe and responsible sex. And this increases your chances of contracting STDs even more.
6. Talk to your partner clearly.
Clear and open communication is essential in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Have an open talk with your partner about safe sex, STD testing, and anything around sexuality. Furthermore, honest and open conversation is important in all areas of life, including sex life.
Also, feel comfortable talking to your partner about what kind of relationship you need, whether you are non-exclusive with proper protection steps or you prefer a mutual monogamous arrangement.
Boosting your communication skills will make your sex life more fulfilling, safer, and free from any doubt of infidelity.
Though STDs are common across the world, there are better ways to prevent their spread. The most common way of staying free from these infections is by abstaining. However, abstinence cannot be practical for everyone.
If you feel you are having difficulty abstaining, then you can follow the practices outlined in this article. Make sure every sexual encounter is safer, have open communication, know your limit, encourage and go for STD testing, and avoid alcohol or drug usage before sex.