STD - Prevention

Is this your symptom?

  • How to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Some Basics...

  • A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection that is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is also sometimes called a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Examples of STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, HIV, pubic lice, and trichomonas.
  • Some STDs can be cured with antibiotics (gonorrhea, chlamydia).
  • Some STDs cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be reduced (herpes, HIV) by taking medicines.
  • Condoms are the only way to keep from getting STDs during sex. Condoms can also be used during oral or anal sex to prevent STDs.

How Are STDs Spread?

  • Most STDs are spread by body fluids during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Semen, blood, and vaginal fluids can all spread STDs. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomonas are spread this way.
  • STDs can also be spread by touching sores during sex. Herpes is spread this way.

How Can a Person Avoid Getting an STD?

There are only two sure ways of not getting an STD:

  • Not having sex (abstinence)
  • Having one long-term sex partner who does not have any STDs

There are activities that do not spread STDs. These include holding hands, hugging, and touching. Kissing is usually safe. Make sure there are no sores on the lips or in the mouth. Touching semen during shared masturbation is usually safe.

What Things Don't Work to Prevent an STD?

  • Douching the vagina or taking a shower after sex does not prevent STDs.
  • Withdrawal is not a way to prevent STDs or pregnancy. This is when a man pulls his penis out before he ejaculates.
  • A person can get an STD more than once. Being treated for an STD will not keep someone from getting it again.
  • Using birth control pills, patches, or shots will not keep someone from getting an STD. A condom is still needed.

When to Call for STD - Prevention

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • You had sex in the past 72 hours with someone who has HIV

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think you need to be seen

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You are worried you might have an STD
  • You had sex with someone who has an STD
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • No symptoms
  • Questions about preventing STDs by using condoms

Care Advice

Condoms and STD Prevention

  1. What You Should Know:
    • A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection that is spread by having sex with someone who has it. This can be through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is also sometimes called a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
    • Condoms are the only way to keep from getting STDs during sex. You can also use condoms during oral and anal sex to prevent STDs.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Getting A Condom:
    • Buy latex rubber condoms. If you are allergic to latex, you can use a plastic condom. Never use condoms made from animal skins because they can leak.
    • You can get condoms at health clinics, drugstores, grocery stores, and online. You do not need a prescription.
  3. Storing Condoms:
    • Store condoms at room temperature. Do not keep them in very hot or cold places or in sunlight.
    • You might want to keep a condom in your wallet or purse. This way you will always have one with you.
  4. Putting On A Condom - Instructions:
    • Hold the condom at the tip to squeeze out the air.
    • Roll the condom all the way down the erect penis. Do not try to put a condom on a soft penis.
    • If you use a lubricant during sex, make sure it is water-based. You can use K-Y Liquid or Astroglide. Do not use petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, or baby oil. These can cause a condom to break.
  5. Taking Off a Condom - Instructions:
    • After sex, hold onto the condom while the penis is being pulled out. This will keep the condom from coming off before the penis is out.
    • The penis should be pulled out while still erect, so that sperm (semen) doesn't leak out of the condom.
  6. Female Condoms:
    • There are condoms for women (such as Reality) that you can buy without a prescription.
    • These condoms are a plastic sheath that is placed inside the vagina.
  7. Pregnancy Test, When in Doubt:
    • If there is a chance that you might be pregnant, use a urine pregnancy test.
    • You can buy a pregnancy test at the drugstore.
    • It works best first thing in the morning.
    • Follow all package instructions.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pregnancy test is positive or you have trouble with the at-home test
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Hotlines and Internet Resources

  1. United States - STD Hotline:
    • American Social Health Association STD Hotline provides information on STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. It can provide referrals to local clinics.
    • Toll-free number (English): (800) 227-8922
    • Toll-free number (Spanish): (800) 344-7432
    • Their website is at:
  2. Internet Resources:

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Last Reviewed: 3/20/2018 1:00:27 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:19 PM

Copyright 2000-2017 Health Navigator, Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Center