Practicing safer sex is an important part of your overall physical health, and can strengthen your relationships with your sexual partner(s).
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:
- HPV(human papilloma virus)
- 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.
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 Options for Sexual Health.
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 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:
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: For people with a cervix, regular Pap screening is recommended. But, this is not the same as STI testing. You can ask your health care provider about adding an STI test at the same time, or visit a sexual health clinic at any time.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.