Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
You can take measures to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can also reduce the risk of transmitting an STI to your sex partner.
Delay sexual activity until you are prepared both physically and emotionally to have sex. Nearly two-thirds of all STIs occur in people younger than 25 years old. Sexually active teenagers are at high risk for STIs because they frequently have unprotected sex and have multiple partners. Biological changes during the teen years also may increase their risk for getting an STI.
If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot. The vaccines Cervarix(What is a PDF document?) and Gardasil(What is a PDF document?) protect against two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types of HPV that cause genital warts. Three shots are given over 6 months. The series of shots is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 or 12. And catch-up immunization is recommended for certain males and females who haven't yet had the series of shots. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.
It is especially important that pregnant women who are at risk for STIs practice safe sex because an STI can affect their baby (fetus). An STI may threaten the life of your baby or cause serious long-term problems or disabilities for your baby.
Practice safe sex
Preventing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is easier than treating an infection after it occurs.
Male condom use
Using condoms reduces the risk of becoming infected with most STIs, especially if the condoms are used correctly and consistently. Condoms must be put on before beginning any sexual contact or activity. Use condoms with a new partner until you are certain he or she does not have an STI. See male condom use.
Female condom use
Even if you are using another birth control method to prevent pregnancy, you may wish to use condoms to reduce your risk of getting an STI. Female condoms are available for women whose partners do not have or will not use a male condom. See female condom use.
Condoms do not prevent skin-to-sore contact in the genital area, so it is possible to spread an STI with genital contact. It is important to have any symptoms in the genital area evaluated
Mouth barriers, such as a dental dam, can be used to reduce the spread of infection through oral sexual activity. You can discuss this with your dentist or health professional.
Avoid douching if you are a woman, because it can change the normal balance of organisms in the vagina and increases the risk of getting an STI.
Most spermicides contain a chemical called nonoxynol-9 (N9). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that N9 in vaginal contraceptives and spermicides may irritate the lining of the vagina or rectum. This may increase the risk of getting HIV from an infected partner.
So although using a spermicide with a condom is more effective for birth control, using a spermicide may increase your risk for getting HIV.
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