Today, we have a better understanding of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There is a tremendous amount of information on how to prevent the spread of STDs and yet, in 2010, there was a 5.4 percent increase in the number of people being diagnosed with Chlamydia alone and it is estimated that more than one half of all people will have an STD/ STI at some point in their life. While some of this can be attributed to more accessible and better screening and an advance in education about this disease, it is also troubling. With so much information available on lowering risks of contracting STDs/STIs, why are more and more people being diagnosed each year?
While abstinence is certainly the most effective way of preventing contracting an STD/ STI, most people choose to take the chance, opting for an active sex life. There are however, steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting an STD/STI:
1. Educate Yourself. Learn about risk factors, prevention, symptoms and treatment. The more you know, the more you can prevent developing an STD/STI.
2. Create an open, honest communication with your partner. It is hard, especially in the early stages of a relationship, to talk openly about sex, STDs/STIs, and safe sex. But communication is essential to a good, long-term relationship. Start early by finding out each other's viewpoints on monogamy, birth control, condoms and other sexual matters.
4. Practice safe sex, every time. Using barrier methods, such as condoms, female condoms or gloves, helps to reduce your chance of contracting an STD/STI but only if you practice safe sex every time you have sex. It only takes one time to contract a disease or infection. If you participate in oral sex, barrier methods should be used as well. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure you have safe sex. Don't rely on your partner, whether you are male or female, have "safe-sex supplies" with you instead of counting on your partner to have them.
5. Schedule regular STD/STI screenings. If you have an active sex life, you should be regularly tested (and treated if necessary) for STDs/STIs. Before entering a new sexual relationship, talk to your partner about being tested before having sex. If you or your partner are in high risk categories for STD/STI, you should have testing more frequently. If any screenings or testing is positive, follow up on all treatment and don't resume your sex life until you have finished the treatment.
6. Choose to have sex within monogamous relationships. Rather than using sex as part of the dating process, hold off on having sex until you both have committed to a monogamous relationship. If you both have been tested and are free of any STDs/STIs, then as long as you both remain faithful, you can safely have a sexual relationship without concern about new illnesses.