Sexually transmitted diseases are an unfortunate fact of life, and sadly, it is not a problem that is going away any time soon. It is estimated that 19 million new infections occur every year. Young people are at the most risk, and almost half of the new infections occur in individuals aged 15 to 24. Yet even older people can contract STDs. (In fact, there has been a recent upswing of STDs among seniors, likely because they were not of a generation accustomed to condom use).
Unfortunately, in this day and age, there is no generation that can neglect condoms and other modes of protection. Consider the following tips to ensure your sexual health:
Realize the risk. The truth is that there is not a 100% foolproof way to protect against STDs—except for abstinence. Of course, for most couples, going without sex isn’t a long-term option, yet all the same, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as safe sex. There is only safer sex, meaning that while condoms and dental dams can cut down on your risk, STDs such as HPV and herpes can still spread.
Limit your partners. Since there is no such thing as safe sex, one of the best ways to decrease your risk is to limit your number of partners. The more partners you have, the more you will expose yourself to potential new infections. You can still enjoy your sexuality and have fun, but remember to put your health first.
Get tested with your partner. It’s important to know your sexual health status and to monitor it throughout the years. Getting tested once is great, but it won’t protect you for years into the future. Get tested regularly and always inquire about your partner’s last test. You can visit www.SexualHealth.com and get tested together.
Wrap up for oral sex. Many couples tend to go without protection during oral sex, yet STDs can be spread during this activity. It is just as risky as unprotected intercourse, so always use condoms when performing oral sex on a male partner, or dental dams when performing oral sex on a female partner. Dental dams are thin sheets of rubber that can be placed over the vagina and/or anus during oral sex to help decrease the risk of STDs. They do not interfere with a woman’s pleasure and they can be easily found almost anywhere that condoms are sold. Some even come in delicious flavors!
No latex, no problem. If you have a latex allergy, there are a number of condom options available to you. Check out brands like Durex Avanti Bare Non-Latex Condoms or Lifestyles SKYN, Premium Non-Latex Condoms. However, take note, that lambskin (also known as sheepskin, or colloquially known as “skin”) condoms DO NOT prevent the transmission of STDs, but rather, are used by monogamous couples looking for pregnancy prevention. There are also non-latex dental dams available (if your drugstore doesn’t carry them, you can easily buy some online).
Remember, the best sex is safer sex!