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 how:

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

How STIs Are Spread

  • STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, body fluids, or both.
  • Oral, vaginal, and anal sex all count as skin-to-skin contact. Even if you don't see any symptoms, there's still a chance you could have been exposed to an STI like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or HPV.
  • HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis A, B, and C are passed through body fluids. Those body fluids include: pre-cum, cum, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk, and blood.

STI vs STD

What's the difference between a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Not too much, really. A disease usually has certain symptoms associated with it. But many people don’t have symptoms when they’re infected, so using the broader term "STI" is a bit more accurate.

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

Wrap It Up

One of the best ways to 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 this CDC page to see how to correctly use a condom.

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.

Consistently and correctly using latex or polyurethane male condoms + lube can lower your chances of getting HIV and certain other STIs—whether you're having anal or vaginal sex.

Latex or polyurethane condoms (when used consistently) are highly effective in preventing HIV: about 70% 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.
  • Polyurethane or polyisoprene, when used correctly and consistently, is a good option if you're allergic to latex.
  • Natural membrane (or lambskin) is a no go! The tiny pores in these condoms don't block STIs, including HIV.
Size matters when it comes
to condoms. Whatever
your size, pick one that 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 latex and cause it 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.

Sexual Networks

Sexual networks also play a big role in your sexual health. Why's that?

Well, that's because your sexual network is how you are connected to people sexually. This includes everyone you've had sex with plus all of their partners, and so on.

Why does that matter? More sexual partners and more unprotected sex—especially in areas where there is a higher concentration of certain STIs—can mean increasing the chances of encountering an STI, like HIV.

Your partners play a big role
In your sexual health.
Talk about how you can
both stay healthy.
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