Whether you had an unexpected or unprotected sexual encounter, or been informed that a partner has been diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted infection or disease, STIs can provoke anxiety or concern.
- Get tested. There is no shame in getting tested for an STI. By knowing your STI status, you are protecting yourself and your partner(s). If you have an STI, there are treatments available. Bacterial infections, such as gonorrhea, can be cured with antibiotics. While not curable, viral infections such as herpes can be managed with medications.
- Use latex condoms every time you have sex. Use a water-based lubricant to ensure the condom doesn’t break, and use condoms for the entire sex act. STIs such as herpes, gonorrhea and HPV can infect other parts of your body, such as your mouth and throat.
- Most STIs are asymptomatic. This means that you could have an STI but not have any signs or symptoms. Even without symptoms, you can pass an infection to your partner. Annual STI screening is encouraged.
- Communicate before you have sexual contact. Inform your partners about your STI history as recommended by your health professional. Form an explicit agreement about what activities will and won't be okay.
- Abstinence is the only way you can be 100 percent sure that you are safe.