The only way to avoid getting an STD is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, or thinking of becoming sexually active, it is important that you Talk. Test. Treat. to protect your health. Understanding what you can do to lower your risk of getting infected is the first step. After all, STD prevention begins with you.
Talk openly and honestly to your partner(s) and your healthcare provider about sexual health and STDs.
Talk with your partner BEFORE having sex. Not sure how? We have tips to help you start the conversation. Make sure your discussion covers several important ways to make sex safer:
- Talk about when you were last tested and suggest getting tested together. If you have an STD (like herpes or HIV), tell your partner.
- Agree to only have sex with each other.
- Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Talk with your healthcare provider about your sex life, and ask what STD tests you should be getting and how often.
- Not all medical checkups include STD testing, so unless you discuss if you’re being tested, you shouldn’t assume that you have been.
- Vaccines for Hepatitis B and HPV vaccine are available. Ask your doctor whether these are right for you.
Get tested. It’s the only way to know for sure if you have an STD.
Many STDs don’t cause any symptoms. If you’re having sex, getting tested is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.
Find out which STD tests CDC recommends that you should get. And remember, pregnancy doesn’t protect against STDs. If you’re having sex, you’re still at risk.
If you’re not comfortable talking with your regular healthcare provider about STDs, find a clinic near you that provides confidential and free or low-cost testing.
If you test positive for an STD, work with your doctor to get the correct treatment.
Some STDs can be cured with the right medicine from your doctor. It’s important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes. To make sure your treatment works:
- Don’t share your medicine with anyone, and
- Avoid having sex again until you and your sex partner(s) have each completed treatment.
Other STDs aren’t curable, but they are treatable. Your doctor can talk with you about which medications are right for you.