Safer Sex

Practicing safer sex is an important part of your overall physical health, and can strengthen your relationships with your sexual partner(s).

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Sexually Transmitted Infections

If and when you decide to become sexually active, it’s important to be informed about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs are common. Many don’t cause any noticeable symptoms, so a person might not realize they have an STI.

Some common STIs to be aware of are:

  • chlamydia
  • herpes
  • gonorrhea
  • HPV(human papilloma virus)
  • syphilis
  • HIV
  • trichomoniasis
  • pubic lice

The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested. Most STIs are treatable, and it’s really important to start treatment as soon as possible. Some STIs (like herpes and HIV) cannot be cured, but there are ways to manage them with the help of a medical professional. For more information about STIs, visit Smart Sex Resource.

STI Testing

Think about getting tested if you have had any type of sex—don’t wait for symptoms, since people often don’t experience any symptoms at all. STI testing is fast, free and confidential. You won’t be asked for ID, and your parents won’t be contacted. To find a clinic near you, visit the SmartSex Resource Clinic Finder.

Many people don’t get symptoms, but some do. These can include itching, burning, rashes, pain or discharge. Be sure to get STI testing if you do have any of these symptoms.


There are many ways that you can protect yourself and your sexual partner(s) from STIs. One of the most important things you can do is learn to talk with your partner(s) about sexual health. These conversations may feel awkward at first, but they can often help to strengthen your trust and your relationship with your partner(s).

When having these conversations, it can be helpful to:

  • Have the conversation in private, but not during a time that you’re already being sexual.
  • Think of it as just talking about your health– it’s not an interrogation.
  • Avoid making judgments about your partner’s past
  • Let your partner know you respect their privacy, and you expect them to respect yours.

You can find out more about having conversations about sex with your partner here.

Another way to prevent STIs is to use barrier methods like condoms. While condoms don’t protect you from all STIs 100% of the time, they can be very effective when used correctly. Other methods of birth control like the pill don’t protect against STIs, so it’s important to use condoms even when pregnancy isn’t a risk.

It’s really important to use condoms every time and to use them correctly. This video explains how:

Other ways to help prevent STIs include vaccinations (like vaccines to prevent HPV). If you are worried about getting an STI, consider types of sex that have a lower risk of transmission. It’s important to know the risks connected to certain kinds of sexual activity. You can find out more here.

You can avoid or manage STIs with good communication, protection and regular testing.


Tip: Make sure you talk with any new partner about sexual health and STI testing. Suggest that you go get tested together. This shows that you are thinking about your own sexual health, and that it’s not a matter of not trusting them. Going with your partner can also make the experience less intimidating. You can find a sexual health clinic in your area here.



Tip: Call or email resources like SexSense if you have any questions about sexual health. 

Sex Sense is a free and confidential sexual health resource and referral service available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (PST) at 1-800-739-7367 (throughout BC) or 604-731-7803 (Lower Mainland). You can also submit your questions via email.
You can also locate a sexual health clinic here (Opt Clinic Finder) and here (Smart Sex Resource).
Please note that due to COVID-19, there are a few changes with our services. Please see this page for what Options BC is offering at this time.

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