Last month, evidence emerged that one in four teenage girls has an STD. It also turns out that this is true for the population overall -- one in four Americans has an STD. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 19 million new STD cases each year, and almost half of them are among those aged 15-24! Also, more than half of us will contract an STD at some point in our lives.
How can you stay safer? Planned Parenthood Federation of America's website offers a lot of great tips that you should check out. Here are some of the basics:
- Get yourself tested. All STDs are treatable, and testing will help to prevent medical problems for you down the line. It will also help you prevent passing the infection to your sexual partner(s). Some STDs are passed through skin-to-skin contact, not body fluids, so even if you use a barrier method, it's a good idea to get checked out. You can also encourage your sexual partner(s) to do the same. PPRSR and other Planned Parenthood health centers offer STD testing.
- Be comfortable talking about safer sex with your sexual partner(s). If your partner does not want to have a discussion about condoms, sexual history and/or STDs, you may want to reconsider that sexual encounter. People who are comfortable with their sexuality are likelier to engage in safer sex, and to enjoy safer sex more. Make sure to have these conversations in advance, not the heat of the moment.
- If you are going to have vaginal, anal or oral sex, use a condom, female condom or dental dam. Though transmission of STDs like herpes and HPV is still possible, using a barrier method greatly reduces your risk.
- There are lots of ways to get sexual satisfaction without engaging in riskier activities. Check out the PPFA tips for more!
- Always be honest with your partner(s) and don't depend on anyone else to protect you from STDs -- protect yourself.
If you are a sexually active man or person who has sex with men, you should know how to put on a condom! Safer sex is the responsibility of both partners. If you don't know how to use a condom properly, or aren't sure, don't be embarrassed -- but do check out this instructional video.
Enjoy and stay safe!