How can I prevent STIs

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Preventing STIs can protect you and your partner from serious illness and infertility:

Practice safer sex

Use condoms every time you have sex. Female and male condoms will:

  • protect you from STIs including HIV.
  • protect the health of your partner.
  • prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Use one of these condoms when you have sex — not both together.

If your partner will not use a condom, a diaphragm gives some protection against some STIs, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Wash the outside of your genitals after sex.

Pass urine after having sex.

Do not douche, or use herbs or powders to dry out the vagina. Douching (and washing out the vagina with soap) works against the natural wetness the vagina makes to stay healthy. When the vagina is dry, it can become irritated during sex, making it more likely to be infected with HIV and other STIs.

You and your partner can have oral sex or other sexual touch instead of intercourse.

Do not have sex when you or your partner has signs of an STI.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en010509