Health and Sex
Belong Together

Whether it's a one-night thing, a new relationship, or getting close with someone familiar, you can still have healthier sex. Being Healthysexual is all about protecting your sexual health without stopping the fun.

Before you can protect yourself, you should know:

Healthcare providers also play an important role in protecting your sexual health. Talk to one about all the ways to stay healthy.

"Honestly, I never thought of HIV as an STI."

  • STI = sexually transmitted infection. Some people also use the term STD (sexually transmitted disease). And did you know even HIV is classified as an STI?
  • STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids, or both during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Even if you don't see any symptoms, there's still a chance you could have been exposed to an STI.
  • STIs that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact include syphilis, herpes, and HPV.
  • STIs that can be spread through body fluids (like pre-cum, cum, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk, and blood) include HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and Hepatitis A, B, and C.

Nope. Pulling out won't prevent STIs (including HIV) or pregnancy.

The CDC has found that there is a 22% chance of getting pregnant when using the pulling-out method—this is because pre-cum can contain sperm.

And since STIs can be spread through skin-to-skin contact or body fluids like pre-cum, pulling out isn't a reliable method for protection.

Wrap It Up

One of the best ways to help protect yourself against STIs is a classic: the condom. Consistently using latex condoms and lube every time you have sex goes a loooong way in defending your downstairs situation (no matter how STIs are passed). But you need to make sure you're using them the right way.

Check out these CDC pages to learn how to correctly use a male condom and a female condom.

But, condoms are just one part of an overall prevention package

Up your prevention game by adding:

  • Testing (and retesting!)
  • Honest conversations with your partner(s)
    • Ask your partner(s) about their HIV/STI status and when they were last tested
  • Partnering with a healthcare provider
    • If you're HIV-negative, you and a healthcare provider can decide if prevention medicines for PrEP may be an option for you
    • If you're HIV-positive, you and a healthcare provider can decide what HIV treatment options are right for you. Starting HIV treatment as soon as possible can help protect your health and help prevent passing HIV to others

Here Are the Dos and Don'ts of Doing It

Do

Use condoms

Don't

Have genital contact
before putting the
condom on

Do

Put one on before sex
and use one every time
from start to finish

Don't

Double up

Do

Check the
expiration date

Don't

Reuse them

Do

Check for tears
or defects

Don't

Store them in
your wallet

Do

Use water-based or
silicone-based lubes

Don't

Use oil-based lube

Do

Use latex or
polyurethane condoms

Don't

Use natural membrane
condoms (like lambskin)

Do

Hold the base of the condom
while pulling out after sex

Don't

Yank it off. Gently
pull the condom off

Condoms and lube are just some of the tools in your healthier sex kit. Depending on your situation, prevention medicines might also be a good option.

Correctly and consistently using latex or polyurethane male condoms + lube can lower your chances of getting certain STIs, including HIV.

When used correctly and consistently as a prevention method, condoms are highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV: about 91% for receptive anal sex and up to 80% for vaginal sex.

Only the Best

Know what works best when it comes to picking your condoms:

  • Latex provides the best protection when used correctly and consistently from start to finish for each act of anal or vaginal sex.
  • If you're allergic to latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene, when used correctly and consistently, is a good option.
  • Natural membrane (or lambskin) is a no go! The tiny pores in these condoms don't block STIs, including HIV.
WHATEVER
YOUR SIZE,
PICK WHAT FITS.

Lube It or Lose It

Lube helps reduce the friction that can cause condoms to break or tear. But not all lubes are created equal.

  • ALWAYS use water-based or silicone-based lubes.
  • NEVER use oil-based lubes. And AVOID petroleum jelly, mineral oil, massage oil, and body lotions. These can weaken condoms and cause them to break.
  • Make sure you put the condom on first and the lube on second. Putting lube on before the condom can cause it to slip off. And keep using lube as you need it. A dry condom can break more easily than a lubricated one.
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